Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: For players not offered scholarships, playing in last football game is a tough pill to swallow
In 2004, Reginald Samples had to comfort his Lincoln team after it lost in overtime in a Class 4A state title game. Last year, the coach consoled his Skyline players after their loss to Southlake Carroll in the 5A semifinals.
Those were difficult moments, but not as tough as telling a player that he’s not going to play in college.
“That’s one of the biggest negatives of my job,” Samples said. “Especially when it’s a really good kid, a great character kid who’s been great for your program.”
This last week of the regular season will be the end of the line for a lot of good players. They’d love to keep playing, but college scholarships are scarce.
According to the National Federation of High School Associations, there were more than one million high school football players last season. During that same season, there were fewer than 20,000 football players on scholarship in Division I and Division II.
Crunch the numbers and you’ll find that fewer than one of every 50 high school football players is going to get a Division I or Division II scholarship. Every player and parent needs to know that.
Former Garland and Allen coach Joe Martin, who is now assistant executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association, remembers talking with parents about it.
“Sometimes it’s hard to convince them that Little Johnny is a great kid and a great high school football player, but that his career is going to end when our season does,” Martin said.
It can be difficult for parents to accept. Their perspective is biased, but they can also be misled by recruiting services that begin holding camps and showcases for kids before they’re even in high school.
The recruiting services claim they can give the players recruiting exposure, and in some cases, that’s true. But it’s also in the best interests of those recruiting services to tell parents what they want to hear: that their kids are going to be big-time prospects.
“It creates an unrealistic view,” said Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire, whose program produces some of the area’s top recruits each year. “It’s tough to get parents to understand. It puts a lot of pressure on us.”
When a player isn’t recruited by the big programs or isn’t offered a scholarship, the coach sometimes gets the blame. But now that video of players is so easy to access, high school coaches have a smaller role.
“I think a lot of parents think we have a lot more power in the process than we do,” said Samples, who had more than a dozen players get scholarships last season.
“It might’ve been that they used to take our word for it on a kid, but now they have access to our film and can watch all our games.”
Recruiters are going to be wrong sometimes, but in most cases, there’s nobody to blame when a player doesn’t get a college scholarship. It’s simply a numbers game that few can win. The available scholarships are buried in a heaping pile of high school athletes eager to keep playing.
That’s why, for many players, this week is it. One final chance to play the game they love.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon