What should a football program really expect from a five-star football player? I was watching a video the other day and the person, who is a nice enough person, was talking about a five-star player… it occurred to me that they had no real idea what they were talking about.
Far too often the expectation of a five-star player is that they will come in and take over immediately. That the five-star player will have a great freshman season and be an All-American.
It doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t work like that at all.
First, if you are depending on any player - five star or not - to come in and “take over” right away you have a problem… a recruiting problem. No player should be able to come in from high school and be dominate on the college level - perhaps a player or two a season in a conference (Jadeveon Clowney comes to mind) can do that. But that’s it.
Then I hear the critics (and, look, I’m a critic - but I’m not a stupid critic who just talks to hear himself talk) talk about players like John Theus “not playing like a five-star player”.
John Theus and his old buddy Jordan Jenkins are outstanding examples of what a five-star player should be in college. In fact, they’ve both surpassed what many five-star players in the SEC have done.
Theus is going to be a four-year starter - a four-year starter - at Georgia. Quick - outside of Aaron Murray, who else has started four seasons at Georgia since Mark Richt has been there? David Greene? Who else? David Pollack? Those guys were pretty good players as I recall.
Being a four-year starter is not common. John Theus has done just that, and that alone is worthy of his five-star status coming out of high school.
I can’t speak to what every expectation of five-star players should be or is, but I’ve seen folks talk about Jacob Eason coming in and starting as a true freshman at quarterback. That’s not happening. The expectation of that happening needs to stop.
Please, stop it.
For the love of everything holy - stop.
We’ve seen what a five-star freshman quarterback start looks like at Georgia - it was not pretty. Matthew Stafford threw nearly twice the amount of interceptions as he did touchdowns while starting as a freshman in 2006. It got as bad as Georgia losing to Kentucky for the first time in a decade. It was horrible. It got better - thanks to unreal play by the defense - but Stafford would tell you himself that was a difficult time.
Jacob Eason, like many five-star players before him and many to follow, need to use their first season on campus as a time of learning - that's not to suggest that they won't play. But Eason will have a difficult enough time learning what throw and when to throw it the first nine months of his college life - couple that with trying to pass an entrenched starter (something Stafford never had to worry about) - in that time?
It isn’t going to happen - at least I very, very seriously doubt it. That's not to say that Jacob Eason won't be a star... but why must he be a star in 2016? Won't his star shine just as bright in 2017 or even 2020?
So why don't we scale back our expectation of what a five-star player should be. Every five-star player isn’t going have the success of Clowney just the same way every five-star player isn’t going to struggle the way Georgia defensive end Brandon Wood did.
The problem, frankly, is the echo chamber that is the Interned filled with people saying things they don’t have the first clue about. I know that's not at all unique to sports, but this is what I do, and it has gotten out of control.
How many people crowned John Theus before ripping him off of his throne?
Better question: How many of them actually saw Theus live in person before making either embellishment? I wonder, frankly, how many times anyone writing or talking about Jacob Eason has seen him in the flesh.
I’d say not many. And that’s the problem. We’ve got too many “experts” - and that’s a problem.