Mississippi Recruiting: How to handle the pressure

Mississippi Recruiting: How to handle the pressure

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Mississippi Recruiting: How to handle the pressure

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There are a lot of good things about being a highly regarded recruit.
There’s that moment when the coach you see on television each week is in your home trying to recruit you. Or when you make an official visit to a prospective school and that school rolls out the red carpet to convince you that you belong there.
There’s even the media coverage that comes with being a top player. With the rise of the recruiting information business over the last decade or so, there are now more players than ever getting interviewed about where they might go next.
But with all those benefits also comes a lot of pressure.
Pressure to choose the right school. Pressure to perform well at the next level. Pressure from fans of opposing schools that would like nothing more than for a top recruit to fall flat on his face in failure.
Each year it gets more difficult for players to manage all of the expectations, while trying to maintain their grades and strong play on the field.
Many players are doing a great job at this, but two stick out. Jackson Prep quarterback Ryan Buchanan and West Bolivar running back Kailo Moore seem to generate the most divisive opinions within the state, but yet keep doing what they need to do.
Buchanan, who has verbally committed to Ole Miss, is a 6-foot-4, four-star quarterback who has guided Prep to a 7-0 record heading into Friday’s showdown against 7-0 Jackson Academy. Despite finding a way to win each game, he seems to generate more criticism than any other player in Mississippi.
Buchanan overrated?
Simply mention Buchanan on Twitter and you’ll get a flood of responses from Mississippi State fans telling you he’s overrated and won’t amount to anything in the SEC. Some fans seem to even take joy when Buchanan struggles.
Yancy Porter, who covers the state of Mississippi for Scout.com, believes that stems from Buchanan’s private school background.
“Private school guys always have a stigma of playing against lesser competition,” he said. “His stats also aren’t glamorous because he plays in a run-oriented offense. But he’s got a big body, has incredible arm strength and thinks quickly in the pocket.”
The soft commitment
Moore generates criticism for different reasons. The talented running back committed to Ole Miss more than a year ago, then de-committed when coach Houston Nutt was fired. He is now verbally committed to Mississippi State, but he has visited a few other schools since committing to State, including Ole Miss. Moore has stated how committed he is to the Bulldogs and coach Dan Mullen, but every time he visits elsewhere it generates a wave of hate.
Moore has learned along the way and has become weary of speaking to media, according to Porter. But despite some additional weariness, those around him don’t think it has changed him much.
“He’s been handling it well,” said Henry Johnson, the coach at West Bolivar. “He’s always been mature about it. He’s been going through it his whole life, and I don’t think it’s affected him.”
But it won’t get any easier for Buchanan, Moore or any other top recruits, especially when both of the major in-state schools are recruiting them. With the way the recruiting world is going, it will only add more pressure to players.
“Recruiting has become such a huge business,” Porter said. “There are fans out there that’d rather win a big recruit than a big game.
“There are going to be fans that go crazy with every word these recruits say.”
It will only be tougher for top recruits in the coming years, but players would be wise to watch how Buchanan and Moore manage expectations and have successfully overcome the pressure.
Reach John Talty at (601) 961-7284 or jtalty@jackson.gannett.com.

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