Through no fault of their own, certain recruits become legends, internet and otherwise, before they ever strap it up in college football. From Malcom Christie to Sean Ridley to Willie Guy and Blake Larsen, Iowa has its share of guys that failed to live up to the hype.
Each year, the focus on prep stars increases from the year past. Written reports and video reports shower the internet creating armchair experts from New York to California. Almost everyone forms an opinion of these athletes before they leave their hometowns for the big campus.
While the increased exposure benefits college programs in certain ways, it's also affected the mindset of some of these players. How can a young man avoid believing at least some of the press clippings lauding his talents being written by the hundreds?
"Recruiting is all about telling a guy we love you," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "But when they show up, it's, "We love you, but there's some work associated here. To win football games, you have to do this. To get a degree, you have to earn that." It's not about past accomplishments. It's about today and where you are headed."
The landscape is beginning to remind Ferentz of his days in the NFL, where players coming out of college received large monetary compensation before proving their ability to excel on the game's biggest stage.
"That's a challenge at that level, too, especially for young players that don't know what it takes to be a pro," Ferentz said. "They get handed a big contract and they've been rewarded on the front end. They really haven't done anything yet. As a coach, you're trying to explain "OK, this is what you have to do to earn that money.""
There really is no way to prepare these athletes for what the fishbowl will be like in college.
"There's public scrutiny because we expect our players to be above the rest of the student body," Ferentz said.
There might be 50 students that receive possession of alcohol under the legal age summons in a given weekend in Iowa City. Usually nobody thinks twice about them unless it's a football player, even a third-string right guard.
Ferentz believes some newcomers underestimate the commitment level needed to reach success academically and athletically in college.
"They have no way of knowing what it's going to be like, but if they think it's going to be easy, it's even a tougher battle for them," Ferentz said.