Sports

Not everyone will be lucky enough to get a scholarship

By Casey Olson, Sidelines

National Letter of Intent Day came and went on Wednesday.

Thousands of football players from across the nation signed their John Hancocks on the dotted line, including four Federal Way School District athletes.

But Kevin Hart’s signature wasn’t one of them.

Hart, who attends Fernley High School near Reno, Nev., made national news earlier this week when he supposedly accepted a full-ride to play offensive line at Cal-Berkley. The problem was, Hart committed without a scholarship offer and later admitted that he made up the entire thing.

In a one-paragraph statement issued by the Lyon County (Nev.) School District, he admitted the entire process was a fraud.

“I wanted to play D-I ball more than anything. When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I made up what I wanted to be reality,” he said. “I am sorry for disappointing and embarrassing my family, coaches, Fernley High School, the involved universities and reporters covering the story.”

In front of the entire student body, his football coach, his tearful dad and proud grandparents, the 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive guard “chose” Cal over Oregon.

“I had a really good recruiting experience,” he told reporters from the Reno Gazette Journal at the announcement ceremony. “I had coaches from everywhere. Oregon, Illinois, they’re all great coaches and I didn’t really have a bad recruiting experience. But like every other guy I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad I can go back to normal.”

Obviously, Hart is a pathological liar and just doesn’t get it. And instead of a football player, he might have a future in politics or authoring mystery novels.

But this unfortunate situation really brings to light the amount of pressure that “some” athletes, parents and coaches put on receiving a college scholarship.

Everybody who plays high school sports dreams of taking multiple recruiting visits before signing a national letter of intent in front of friends and family.

But that rarely happens. I mean very rarely, especially in football.

The Federal Way School District has been playing football for a long time and there have only been a handful of athletes to ink their names on a Division I full-ride. Guys like Lake Dawson (Notre Dame), Victor Rogers (Colorado) and Darin Harris (Washington) are a few of the “lucky” ones. Harris was the last Federal Way football player to do it back in 2004.

Here are some football numbers to consider: There are 117 Division I programs. They are allowed to carry 85 scholarship players. That’s a total of 9,945 Division I scholarships. Schools can give out a maximum of 24 per year, a total of 2,808 annually.

In short, everybody needs to be realistic about the recruiting process and not get carried away. The South Puget Sound League alone has 24 schools. Just imagine how many kids are playing sports across the nation.

And another thing: A newspaper has nothing to do with getting scholarships. It doesn’t matter how much “press” a student-athlete gets while playing high school sports. Recruiters could care less. I guarantee coaches aren’t combing through the sports section of local newspapers, counting the number of times a kid’s name is highlighted.

Just let the recruiting process happen naturally. If a student-athlete is going to get recruited, I guarantee it will happen. It’s all based on potential and on-field performance.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, a kid just isn’t good enough to play after high school. Just enjoy the high school experience. It doesn’t last long.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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