Stop me if you’ve heard me say this before, the world of college football recruiting is very competitive. Being on point in all aspects of your recruiting profile is in your best interest. Unfortunately, one of the aspects of the profile that gets overlooked the most is intelligence. This article is here to tell you that this is a mistake.
When it comes to the upper-echelon of college football recruiting meaning the Power 5 and Top 25 teams, thoughts on the academics tends to stray towards get a “good enough” GPA and get the score you need to pass the test (SAT, ACT). On the face of it, sure, you need the proper GPA and score to even be offered a scholarship. However, if that is the extent or prevailing opinion that you have regarding your academics, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
What many of us see on game day when we are watching games are amazing feats of athleticism. On display are guys running fast, looking strong and hitting hard. It is easy for us to come to the conclusion that the guys on the field are there solely because of their athletic prowess. What is not on display is the sidelines where there are quite a few tremendous athletes smelling of the cleanest soap because they can’t get on the field. I am here to tell you that a good portion of those talented athletes are there because learning is not “their thing”.
When you are in high school, not everyone on the team is making football a career. There are far more that are new to the game of football. The coaches, in a lot of cases, are also not that advanced in their understanding of the schemes of football. With that being the case, high school football schemes are less complicated and intricate than what is available at the college level. A high school coach will run what he needs to run to be successful and many times that is a watered down version of what you will see at the college football level. So while the formations and plays may look the same on TV as what you ran the night before on your high school football team, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.
Many a high school football stud has had their college football dreams buried by a playbook. When the offensive plays are no longer one word concepts with simple routes and the defensive calls aren’t all man to man, some athletes’ brain circuitry short wires. That attitude of just pass the class or just get the score comes back to bite them.
One of the major gripes students have about school is that they are learning about subjects they don’t care about or they think they’ll never need. However, the major purpose of your elementary – high school years of education is teaching you how to learn. Math, english, science, history all develop your brain’s ability to process information and recall it later. They develop your brain the same way squats develop your leg drive, power cleans develop your explosion and wind sprints develop your endurance. You develop those things so that when the time comes for you use them in a game, you have them available. The same is true for your brain and ability to learn.
When the tight end goes in motion and the defenses checks the stunts and coverages, guess what part of your body is now needed to respond? Is your brain developed? If it’s not, you can’t help your football team and your coach doesn’t want you out there. Your speed, strength and endurance is worthless if your brain doesn’t know what to tell your body to do.
Your early education teaches your brain how to process information like playbook terminology and apply it into action. It gives your brain the power to react quickly to what your opponent is doing and turn all your athletic training into a playmaking asset. Ignoring your education is similar to ignoring the weight room, doing drills and your conditioning.
Some of you may know guys who were terrible students who ended up being world class football players. Let me clue you in on a couple of things. Terrible student does not always mean a poor learner. Sometimes a guy is not awesome at school but he’ll read when no one is looking. Reading is fundamental and it’s the single best thing you can do to develop your brain. By reading, I don’t mean the 240 characters on Twitter. I mean consuming an entire book or reading informative articles. You may have also known a player who was dumber than a box of rocks who ended up being a good college football player. Chances are great that he was a superior athletic freak that coaches dumbed down the system for to allow his athletic superiority to be realized. Those type of athletes are few and far in between. Truth be told, a coach with an equal or better option will take it before he dumbs down his scheme, trust me!
Take your education seriously. Notice I did not say take your GPA and test score seriously. Exercise your brain by forcing yourself to acquire the information being given out in your classes. Practice recalling that information to answer questions correctly on tests. Strain to do this the way you strain to bench 315 lbs. The results of being successful in this could carry your football career to heights that may surprise you.
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 most recently for 5-A State of Florida Champs American Heritage. He runs All Eyes DB Camp a defensive back training company located in South Florida IG: @alleyesdbcamp. Wilson’s oldest son Quincy plays in the NFL for the New York Giants and his younger son plays cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals.