On the heels of two scholarship offers to highly regarded eighth grade prospects from top Division I programs, an SEC school blew them both out of the water by handing out a scholarship to a seventh grade defensive back.
This is not a headline from The Onion, it really happened. Seventh grade. 13. Class of 2018. College recruiting is now officially absurd.
The player in question is young (by definition) Jairus Brents, a hard working (for a middle schooler) defensive back and running back from Indiana, where he plays for New Albany (Ind.) Hazelwood Middle School. He will still be playing for Hazelwood Middle School in the 2013 season because he’s still in middle school.
Brents received his first scholarship offer on Thursday when the University of Kentucky extended the pre-teen a verbal offer for when he graduates some six years from now. The news of Brents’ commitment was first reported by ESPN.
The Indiana native isn’t the first seventh grader to receive a scholarship offer. That honor goes to David Sills, the Deleware-based longtime USC commitment who became an overnight sensation after he received and accepted a verbal offer from head coach Lane Kiffin. To this point, Sills has stayed true to his initial pledge to USC, and the Trojans still appear excited that the still-growing quarterback will be suiting up in the Coliseum come 2015.
That’s because even though Sills committed to the Trojans in 2008, he still has two more years to play in high school before he graduates and heads off to campus.
To his credit. Brents brushed off the scholarship offer when interviewed by ESPN as if this was just another day in the life of an average American middle schooler.
"It's not a big deal. It's just an offer," Brents said.
"It's a good accomplishment, but I'm focusing on being the best cornerback ever and working hard."
USC gambled on Sills because he was a quarterback -- a high need skill position which requires significant project -- and was recommended by luminary quarterbacks coach Steve Clarkson. Brents projects as a cornerback, a position that requires an absurd amount of speed and strength. Successful collegiate cornerbacks are freakish athletes, particularly in the SEC.
Apparently, Kentucky feels confident projecting that six years from now, Jairus Brents will be one of the best athletes in the country. They are doing so on the advice of Chris Vaughn, a former NFL player who now runs a training facility in Indiana. Vaughn also happens to be Brents’ godfather.
“[Brents] is a different breed of kid. He's super competitive," Vaughn told ESPN. "He expects to win every route. He's one of those kids who lights up the competition. Jairus is the best skill kid in the state right now."
Of course, Brents is also currently just 5-foot-8 and 152 pounds. He holds a 3.7 GPA, but he is taking seventh grade math courses. There is no trigonometry in seventh grade math. There may not even be any algebra.
It’s entirely possible that he will progress and grow into the player that Kentucky envisions he will become, but it is at least equally possible that he will devolve into just another teenage football player. After all, there are innumerable times to eat hot pockets and play X Box between now and May 2018.
At the same time, given where recruiting has been going this week in particular, Brents’ scholarship offer should hardly come as a surprise. USC and UCLA both offered scholarships to eighth graders in the span of 48 hours, and Brents’ scholarship offer means there are now four players who have yet to step foot on a high school campus who already hold scholarship offers to play Division I football for major programs.
Let’s just hope for the athletes’ sake they don’t all suffer serious injuries in the next six years. At least if they’re giving themselves plenty of time to get injured, they have even more time to recover.
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• UCLA now offering football scholarships to eighth graders
• U.S. U-16 basketball squad may be as dominant as Dream Team
• Mike Mussina returning to his alma mater as a coach
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