You walk down the halls of your middle school towering over the rest of your peers. The halls are too narrow for you. The ceiling too short.
Your voice is still embarrassingly cracking on occasion. You have various battles with acne. Your smile might be dominated by braces.
These boys — who are 13 or 14 years old going through puberty — are now being courted by Division I football programs.
We’ve gone too far! The line, which used to be junior year of high school, has slowly shifted. Younger and younger. The process has accelerated.
The University of Alabama offered a football scholarship to linebacker Jesus Machado on Monday, according to ESPN. Machado (6-foot, 195 pounds) is in eighth grade.
I remember middle school. You’re trying to find out where you fit in socially. You’re frustrated with the changes your body is going through. It’s an awkward time for boys and girls alike.
Now, on top of the issues we all have to go through — Well, I guess this is growing up — there is heightened pressure on kids who are barely teenagers. You are expected for the next four years and beyond to live up to your hype. If you don’t, you’ll just be another no-name bust. Everything you do will be scrutinized by the scouts and coaches keeping a vigilant eye on you. Oh yeah, the media will now be like bloodhounds sniffing out every little incident and storyline — positive or negative. Especially negative.
It’s too much for a middle schooler — someone who has to wait for mommy or daddy to pick them up from school — to handle.
I remember when I was attending the University of Delaware, there was hoopla surrounding a local fifth grader named David Sills. Sills, who was 5-foot-4, 100 pounds, was touted as the next quarterback prodigy.
That’s enormous pressure for an 11-year-old.
I wrote a story on him for the college newspaper, The Review.
Sills, from Bear, Del., was working with renowned quarterback coach Steve Clarkson, the “Quarterback Guru,” whose proteges include Ben Roethlisberger, Nick Foles, Tim Tebow and Teddy Bridgewater.
In seventh grade Sills verbally committed to the University of Southern California.
Sills, now 6-4, 204, played eight games as wide receiver for West Virginia University during his freshman season in 2015. He had seven catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns. He’s listed on the Mountaineers’ roster as a quarterback.
I’m not saying he won’t end up in the NFL or be the greatest quarterback of all time. Hey, anything is possible. (Leicester City did win the Premier League…)
What I am saying is to put so much pressure on a child who is barely a teenager is unfair. It’s unfair to him. It’s unfair to his family.
Let kids be kids.
Everyone is so quick to rush to be a grown up. When we get there, we long for nothing more than playing in a sandbox without a care in the world.