Looking Back: Michael Wright – Missed Opportunities

As a college freshman, Michael Wright made an immediate impact on the football team. He became a starter after only one game before getting hurt and missing most of the season. In his second year, he picked up right where he left off. Not only is he starting as a redshirt freshman, he’s far and away the team’s best receiver. No one else is even close.

Most would say this is great and that in deciding on his current university he made the right choice. After all, he’s having the kind of success that every athlete and parent hopes for, but few ever find. He’s a star who’s going to have a great career. Everyone’s happy and excited. On the surface, it’s hard to argue with that. Let’s take a closer look.

Despite seemingly obvious talent, Michael had few options coming out of HS. Playing in a small town with limited exposure and support, not many colleges showed interest. At that point, prep school was an option. In the spring of his senior year he finally received a partial offer from one of the lowest D1 FBS teams. Ready to take it, he then received a full offer from a decent FBS program. Once he got those offers, his interest in prep school ended. He took the second scholarship offer, saying it was a great opportunity. On the surface, it was hard to argue with that. This kid from a difficult background was going to play D1 ball while getting a free education. Isn’t that the goal?

Prep school would have been a dramatically better choice. Here’s why:

  1. Better Education   (This is supposed to be most important, right?)
    1. He would have gotten two much better, life changing educations
      1. Prep School
        1. He would have attended one of the top five academic prep school in the world
          1. He would have learned to be a better student
            1. He would have been better prepared to get higher grades in college.
      2. College
        1. The prep school education would have propelled him to a much better academic college
          1. He would be at an Ivy or Patriot League school, or a place like Rice, Boston College or similar
            1. The college he’s attending now provides an average education
  2. Incredible Connections
    1. Prep school and college
      1. He would have made incredible contacts that would last a lifetime
        1. His friends would have been the kids who will be running this country twenty years from now
          1. He’s not getting anything close to that at his college
  3. Higher level of college ball
    1. This was a given after a year of prep school
      1. His immediate success at his current school likely proves that he could play at a much higher level
        1. Instead of playing for a non-noteworthy school, he could be playing at a big time school like Vanderbilt, Boston College, Northwestern etc.
  4. Better life preparation and perspective
    1. The extra year of maturity is an invaluable one time opportunity

This is not second guessing. This has nothing to do with the success he’s found at college. These were the options, and this was all discussed, from the start. The success he’s had only reinforces the point.

Some families would have taken the prep school option. Why didn’t Michael’s? Perhaps they didn’t listen to the right people. Or maybe, contrary to what he said, he just didn’t believe in enough in himself and his talent.

It’s not that this was a bad decision, it’s that there was a much better one. He and his family could have had so much more. They had an asset, an investment, that they failed to get the most out of. All parents want their child to develop as fully as possible. The Wrights missed an opportunity to do this. They also missed out on tangible benefits. It’s pretty easy to make the case that Michael’s lifetime earnings will be dramatically lower than they would have been if he’d opted for prep school.

 

Share

PG Injury Concern

Many considering a PG year believe that the risk of significant injury is a major argument against a PG year. That’s understandable, especially for those who hold full scholarship offers. Injuries get everyone’s attention. They’re very visceral, and that makes them hard to ignore, but there are two reasons to do just that. Here’s why injury concern should not be a significant factor when deciding on a PG year.

 

1)  Injuries are not the problem they used to be.

  • Medical science has changed.  It’s not like it was when today’s parents were kids. The days of career ending injuries are mostly over. Even a blown-out knee is no longer career ending. Athletes have surgery and are back on the field sooner and sooner. Consequently, college coaches are not scared off by that type of thing like they might have been in the past.
  • Prep schools can overcome significant injuries. The right prep school has the clout and the right coach has the recruiting experience and connections to get scholarships for kids who miss all or most of an entire season.

Two years ago Andy had no offers out of high school. He went to a prep school with a very good program but missed the entire season due to injury. Nonetheless, he ended up receiving a full ride to a good D2 school that also offered a much better education than he would have otherwise received. While not his D1 dream, that’s still more than he had out of high school. Some years before Andy, Harry was in a similar situation. He, too, had no offers out of high school. He played the first two games of the year before stepping on someone’s foot and spending the next two months in a cast. He still had his choice of three mid-level D1 offers.

Part of the reason these players were able to overcome their injuries is that a PG year offers more than just another school season. It also offers another summer recruiting period. Like it or not, these days that’s just as important. By playing well in the summer before they ever got to school they helped insure they would get the offers they so badly wanted.

2)  There are other risks, with a much greater chance of happening, that need to be managed, but are being ignored. These are what should influence the thinking of families.

  • Transfers are a virtual epidemic these days. A shocking percentage of kids are not finishing at the school they started at. Despite the spin you hear on it, that’s not good. Nobody commits to a school with the expectation of transferring (except those hoping to transfer up. That’s a whole different mistake for another blog.). The right PG decision reduces this possibility.
  • Not getting playing time. This has always been part of the equation, and it always will be. A certain percentage of kids will always sit. It’s the nature of a competitive team. Some will never play. Some will play after a year or two. A PG year reduces the chance of both options significantly.
  • Some athletes will fail or struggle academically in school. People think this applies only to students who were weak students when they entered college, but it also happens to good students, especially those attending the elite educational universities. People don’t understand the time and commitment demands of scholarship level sports. Consequently they fail to anticipate the strain that puts on classwork. There is no such thing as too much preparation, even for the very best students. A PG year provides that preparation.

The concern of injury is a little like those who are afraid of flying. While the statistics say flying is much safer than other methods of travel, some people simply can’t get the fear of flying out of their minds. Fight the urge to let to let fear of injury make your decision about a PG year. It’s a bad thought process.

There are no guarantees in this world, although it’s human nature to want them. If you’re starting with the thought that any scenario, such as having an offer in hand, means you’ve got a guarantee, you’re starting from the wrong perspective. Families need to understand this and act accordingly.

It would be unfair to say there’s no injury risk in a PG year. There is, but it’s not the risk most think it is, the chances are too small to pay attention to, and there are other risks that you’re not addressing that should be of greater concern. These are what should dictate your decision.

 

 

Share