Kiyaunta Goodwin isn’t even in high school yet, but he’s 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 350 pounds. Schools are already drooling over him, and he was pictured this past weekend with Nick Saban. Goodwin later revealed Saban offered him a scholarship to play at the University of Alabama.
Saban isn’t the first. He’s been offered by LSU, Cincy, Kentucky, WKU, Wisconsin, Georgia and Syracuse. He has photos on social media from visits to Ohio State and Michigan, but it’s not confirmed if these schools have also offered him scholarships. According to Bleacher Report, Goodwin can leg press 1,000 pounds and bench press 315 pounds.
Lane Kiffin was the first one to tread these waters when he offered David Sills, a wide receiver who now plays for West Virginia. Sills was 13 at the time and committed to USC. He’s also offered Tee Martin’s son, Kaden Martin, a quarterback scholarship to Florida Atlantic. Kaden is five feet 11 inches tall and weighs 175 pounds. It’s crazy to even talk about that size for a middle school football player, but it’s reality.
So, how young is too young? I’m not asking for the purpose of evaluating talent. It’s up to the coaches to do that, and if they feel they can make that call when a kid is 13, then so be it. They can always pull the scholarship anyway and tell the player to look elsewhere, so it’s not a career-altering commitment. I’m asking for the purpose of the child and let me say it again, the child.
We sometimes forget those 17 or 18-year-olds are kids because of their build. Most of them are much larger than the average human, and most of them look older in the face. But, are we going to start treating 13-year-old’s like adults sooner rather than later? We’ve seen 17-year-olds attacked on twitter for their de-commitments to athletic programs.
The school exerts absolutely no pressure on them, but suddenly, a 13-year-old kid has enormous pressure on him. He has Nick Saban sitting in the stands at his games. I didn’t want to disappoint my mom when I was 13, so I couldn’t imagine Saban sitting at my games. For the kid’s sake, the NCAA needs to change the rules when it comes to recruiting.
A coach shouldn’t be able to recruit a middle school player. Let them enjoy being a teenager, it’s hard enough going through awkward adolescent years without additional pressure on them. If I had it my way, schools wouldn’t be able to recruit a high school freshman, either. The sophomore year should be the first one coaches and schools can make contact. Let the kids get a year of high school football under their belts.
So again, how young is too young?