Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) receiver Jeremy McNichols has always had major respect for Mike Tyson.
Not just the one-hitter quitters Tyson was infamous for either. McNichols was always fascinated with how Tyson was able to win fights without throwing one punch.
“The death stare,” said McNichols, a Utah commit. “He’d just intimidate people with it.”
It’s a practice that McNichols and countless other high school football players say they’ve adopted for the pregame coin toss.
“You want to look them in the eyes and look for that fear,” McNichols said. “You can kinda tell. It’s usually four of them and you go down and look at all four and look for that fear. I think about 70 percent of the time I see fear.”
That’s an absolute plus – especially if you buy in to the correlation between the intimidation factor and wins.
Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.) cornerback Jabrill Peppers certainly does – and for that reason he said he’s “definitely doing the death stare during the coin toss.”
“When I do that it just gives me an indication of what kind of player they are,” said Peppers, a Michigan commit who is ranked No. 2 in the Rivals100. “If they’re looking right back in my eyes I’m like ‘aight he ain’t no punk.’ I like that too because I love a challenge. But if he’s looking down or looking at his teammate talking then I know I’ve got him. I know he’s not ready.”
Still, c’mon, does “not ready” equate to an on-field edge over the course of 48 minutes?
St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) quarterback Josh Rosen wouldn’t go as far as saying that attaining the intimidation factor before kickoff is the nail in the coffin for the opposition but he was “absolutely” convinced that it gives you a distinct advantage initially.
“Football is the most psychological sport there is,” Rosen said. “Any advantage is big.”
Cypress Bay (Weston, Fla.) running back Dylan Rupert couldn’t agree more; his key to assuring a win in the pregame stare down? No smiling.
“You just can’t smile,” Rupert said. “That sends the wrong message. Then the guy may think he’s got the mental edge. You’ve gotta look right into their eyes with kind of a cold look. Just get into their head. If you do that you’ve already won.”
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