In the latest case of USC and UCLA engaging in a catty war of “anything you can do, I can do bigger,” the Bruins responded to word that USC handed a scholarship offer to eighth grade wide receiver by offering a scholarship to an eighth grade quarterback from another state.
As first reported by ESPN Los Angeles, UCLA became the first school to offer incoming high school freshman quarterback Lindell Stone. The future Southlake (Texas) Carroll High signal caller who recently graduated from the eighth grade at Southlake (Texas) Dawson Middle School was picked as a standout at a recent Elite 11 regional competition in San Francisco, at which he was cut from the national Elite 11 roster but earned plaudits from figures like former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer.
That was enough to convince UCLA to offer a scholarship to the proclaimed pocket passer who, of course, has yet to step foot on a high school campus, let alone throw a high school pass.
Stone becomes the third eighth grader to receive a scholarship offer, following in the footsteps of Louisiana running back Dylan Moses, who has offers from a handful of schools, and California receiver Nathan Tilford, who received an offer from USC less than 48 hours before UCLA made its move for Stone.
This is getting ridiculous. No one should be offering scholarships to 14-year-olds. The level of projection that has to go into offering a scholarship to an athlete who is more than four years away from graduation is astronomical. How does a school know that the athlete is going to continue refining his raw athleticism? How does a school know that the athlete will stay healthy? How does a school feel even reasonably confident that he’ll show the academic ability to be successful at their institution of higher learning?
Ok, maybe schools don’t even pretend to care about that last consideration anymore, but they should. And the students who are considering these scholarships should as well.
To his credit, Stone paid testament to that idea when discussing the scholarship he received from UCLA.
"It's a very academically prestigious school, which is what I'm looking for in a college," Stone told ESPN Los Angeles. "It's also got a great football program. To have one of my top schools offer me so early, it's an honor. It's great to see all my hard work paying off in them giving me an opportunity."
That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s also a bit surreal to hear a 14-year-old talk about all his hard work paying off. What hard work? He hasn’t played a snap yet!
Naturally, plenty could change by the time we reach Spring 2017 and the likes of Stone, Tilford and Moses sign on to their final college decisions. For now, we should all just hope that the scholarship offers of the past week don’t start a trend, either in the L.A. area or nationwide.