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1/23/2013 2:22:06 PM -
Football can be sad.

Whether you’re a coach, an athlete, or even just a guy who played high school football once upon a time, do yourself a favor right now. Go to Google news and do a search for a guy named Jason Gwaltney. This story came to my attention this morning, and it’s something I think you all should look into.

I had the privilege of watching this young man play football, both in high school and in college when he played for the University of West Virginia. He was, quite honestly, the best high school running back I’ve ever seen. As I said to Jason Pegg today, the best way I can describe it is that the guy was a cross between Barry Sanders and Bo Jackson—a very big, fullback-sized back who had speed, could stop and cut on a dime, and run over anyone he needed to.

He was so good, in fact, that West Virginia offered a scholarship to his cousin—who, to my knowledge, had no other offers—just to get Gwaltney signed.

So what happened? Well, he got to West Virginia, and, the way I understand it, simply failed to do what he was supposed to do when he was supposed to do it. I think he lasted a year in Morgantown, and that was the end of it. I have a lot to say about the high school football culture in certain areas—where all that matters is that you’re a big fish in a tiny pond, as opposed to areas like New Jersey and southern California where it’s assumed that you’re working to play in college. Evidently, Gwaltney got caught up in that sort of shit—the idea that you’ve arrived because you’ve scored six touchdowns in a high school game, at 16 years old, against teams without a single future high school player.

He’s now been arrested for burglarizing a house—or possibly multiple houses. He’s already 25 years old, has no degree, isn’t playing in the NFL, never did jack shit in college, and likely hasn’t ever learned the skills necessary to hold down a job—so this is where it goes: breaking into houses to steal shit that other people have worked for.

If you’d seen this kid play in high school, you’d be amazed that anything like this is going on right now. If you know anything about the culture he came out of, however—the one where we kiss high school players’ asses and put their 7-on-7 tournaments on ESPN—you might not be so surprised. I’m definitely not. When a D-1 school gives a kid the sort of cachet that says, “Hey, we want you so badly that we’ll do ANYTHING to get you,” what’s he supposed to think when he gets there? Especially when he’s been leaning on his own natural ability to dominate shitty competition until then?

Is he going to think it’s necessary for him to get up at 5 AM to go to conditioning sessions in the middle of January? The way this kid was treated, probably not. You’ve taught him for his entire life that he doesn’t have to do shit like that, so he’s not going to embrace it.

As a result, this is what you get: A kid who should have been in the balloting for the Heisman trophy, should have been a first round draft pick, and, for my money, should have eventually been mentioned in the same breath as Adrian Peterson...spending the rest of his twenties in prison because everyone was too busy kissing his ass to teach him how to get up in the morning and go to work.

Damn shame,
Angry Coach

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