In the span of one week, a traditional-yet-flashy college football power has extended scholarship offers to three different football players who have yet to set foot on a high school campus.
Welcome to the new normal, and thanks for bringing us there, University of Miami.
Surprised? Probably not. This has been coming in football for some time, and we’ve seen the middle school exception for multiple years, even if those were exceptions. Yet what the Hurricanes did opens up Pandora’s Box on middle school recruiting to a far greater degree. This isn’t one exceptional middle schooler per year. This is three middle school athletes in a single week.
ESPN’s Gerry Hamilton broke down the three very junior recipients of a Miami offer in the closing days of April:
— Kenny McIntosh, an athlete (did you really expect him to have a pinpointed position as a 14-year-old?) who stands 6-foot and 175 pounds.
— James Cook, the younger brother of Florida State running back Dalvin Cook who, like his brother, is headed to Miami Central. He’s currently just 5-foot-9.
— Linebacker Owen Pappoe, soon to be of Grayson High in Georgia. He’s already 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, and won’t turn 15 until the next football season.
If there was any doubt that Miami is playing the same game as everyone else, just with more glitz, consider the case of Pappoe. A Georgia middle schooler, Pappoe’s offer from Miami wasn’t even the first scholarship extended his way; he had previously received scholarship offers from Tennessee and Boston College. Pappoe also announced Thursday that he had received an offer from Auburn.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, South Carolina also recently made an offer to eighth-grader Dominick Blaylock, the son of former NBA star Mookie Blaylock. Dominick is 5-11 and 165 pounds and attended the Gamecocks’ Junior Day.
None of this is to say that extended scholarship offers to eighth graders is a good thing. The message is that this is happening, and if Miami’s big week is any indication, you can bet your bottom daughter there is going to be a lot more of it before it might be curtailed.