The pass sailed right over his outstretched hand and landed in the basket of the wide receiver. From my seat across the field, I could not entirely make out what happened but you could see the small section of visiting East Carolina fans in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium celebrating so it couldn’t be good. Quincy Wilson had just been beat for a touchdown for the first time in a college football game in front of thousands.
What should have been disappointment for me was over run by curiosity. How would he react? I have seen many a DB at this early stage in their career either go completely in the tank or be rather average for the rest of the game after that. What occurred after that play was what I still call Quincy’s best game as a Gator. For the next three quarters it was an entire murk session. East Carolina WRs could not get off of the line of scrimmage, get down the field nor catch a quick screen without getting abused by #6. Where fear may have been the dominant feeling for many, competitive fire was being served in the most furious To-Go boxes. Where did this come from?
While I can say that he grew up in a competitive household and played multiple sports growing up, I can definitely track a good amount of that competitive spirit on the Saturday afternoon to competing in 7-on-7. Therein lies the major benefit in the new sport that has captured the months of January – June in high school football. The daily battle rages on Twitter between high school football coaches who hate 7-on-7 and 7-on-7 coaches who would swear by it.
While there is much to make you frown about the 7-on-7 culture like overzealous coaches, players being recruited to play at other high schools and some college football recruiting malfeasance, the competitive nature of 7-on-7 can take a player to a whole new level. High school football is filled with well put together, athletic youngsters who just don’t put it all together. Those who have played this game and been successful at it know that a majority of this game is mental. They also know that the truly elite are that because of their competitive nature. 7-on-7 is haven for competition.
Along with the team vs. team competition that gets extremely heated, there is the microscope placed on the 1-on-1 match-ups that occur within the game. Those match-ups are taking place while a jury of your peers stand feet away from them jeering at them before, during and after the play. That jury is the equivalent of a sold out stadium that seats 100,000. What does a teenager care about more than the opinion of another teenager? If you doubt that, ask your child to wear a pair of outdated Skeechers to school tomorrow morning. He’d read Hamlet and write a 5,000 word essay on it before he’d do that.
Playing in front of 80,000 people on a Saturday is a pressure cooker but it pales in comparison to lining up mono y mono vs. a highly recruited athlete from a rival team in a pool play game at a national 7-on-7 tournament. If you don’t believe me ask anyone who’s been through both. The pointing, jeering and antics that ensue after a player has been beaten on a play in 7-on-7 builds mental toughness and character. It’s the equivalent to walking 20 miles to and from school in the snow that the generation before us always talks about.
Last Saturday I watched a young DB get beat for a touchdown at a tournament in Ft. Lauderdale. The opposing team brought out a trash bag and tried to put him in it. The mother in you will feel sorry for the kid and want to give him a hug. The father in you sitting in a crowd of 80,000 people realizes that your son is prepared mentally for anything that is going to happen to him on that field.
7-on-7, like taxes, is here to stay. Also like taxes, it has it’s benefits though few wish to dwell on them. The smart ones amongst us use taxes to their benefit. I suggest to you that you do the same. The competitive nature and pressure of 7-on-7 is second to none.
Author: Chad Wilson
Chad Wilson is a college football recruiting expert and creator of the GridironStudsApp which allows high school football players to gain exposure to college football coaches and fans. Wilson is a former college football player for the University of Miami (92-94) and Long Beach St. (’90-’91) and played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks (’95). He is also a former youth and high school football coach for over 15 years. Wilson’s older son Quincy plays in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts and his younger son plays cornerback for the University of Florida. Email: email@example.com.