The 5 Star Handicap – Why Being Highly Rated Can Be A Curse

By: Chad Wilson – Editor Gridiron Studs Blog
Twitter: @GridironStuds

There’s the saying that you don’t know what you don’t know.  Nowhere is that more true than for the high school teenager.  Across the country and the globe, parents are going about the difficult task of trying to tell their teens what lies ahead of them in the real life descending upon them.  On the high school football gridiron,  football coaches are doing the same and for their top players,  the words of wisdom can fall on the deafest of ears.

Being a college football recruit can be a great experience.  Human beings always thirst for acceptance whether we want to admit it or not.  What says acceptance more than newspaper articles, magazine write ups, radio interviews and television appearances.  Such is the life of a top recruit in the 21st Century.  The more publicity,  the further out of touch with reality the recruit becomes.  Some recruits have a solid support system that can do a “decent” job of keeping the teen grounded but many other recruits do not.

High school football features athletes at various stages of physical and mental development.  Often times, there are players who have achieved the physical development a lot sooner than those that are around them.  In the game of football, that gives that individual a tremendous advantage.  For some top recruits it’s easy to go out and play when you are physically better than your opposition in 90 if not 100% of your games.  The games become easy,  the practices become boring and the bad habits settle in.  It becomes difficult to listen to those telling the recruit to work hard, keep grinding, challenge yourself when what the recruit is doing is leading to dominant performances week in and week out.  No matter how much or how hard you try to tell them that it won’t be this way in college,  they just can’t picture themselves not dominating at the next level.

The situation I described is a set up for failure for a lot of some of the top recruits in the country.  A small portion do continue to get by because they are just that much of a physical force.  All top recruits think they are that type of physical force.  Reality awaits them.  Other recruits are pushed through at their colleges because those programs are hell bent on making that 5 star recruit a success.  Reality awaits this player at some point.  Along the way,  the top recruit is not picking up the tools that equal long, consistent and steady success in the game of football.   When they land on campus that freshman season,  they are pounded in the face with reality.  Their lack of a work ethic,  intolerance for film study and distaste for conditioning makes them a 3rd team participant.  This leads to anger, despair and talk of wanting to transfer. Eventually it could lead to giving up on football altogether. The tough news is that your 1 star work ethic is not welcomed at any campus.  It may be tolerated elsewhere like a lower profile school but it will have it’s consequences.

As the media spotlight on high school football players continues to grow like wildfire,  the epidemic I have described in this article continues to spread like the plague.  We are reaching the point now where by the time they have reached their senior year,  these athletes have been getting some 7-8 years of media attention for their play on the gridiron.  The job of keeping a young athlete humble and hard working is getting tougher and tougher these days.

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:

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