On national signing day, a number of players make last minute decisions that affect the next three or four years of their life. That Deion Guice is in position to join the college football ranks among them at some point is a particularly miraculous feat considering the fact that he hasn't played a football game in more than a year, a decision that was entirely his choice.
As artfully reported by the Portland Oregonian, Guice's dominant junior season on the Portland (Ore.) Jefferson High defensive line had the prospect on the radar of a number of top programs, with the likes of Oregon, LSU and Nebraska asking about his availability. If nothing else, the strongside defensive end was seen as a shoo-in for a championship subdivision scholarship. Yet Guice's talent on the field was offset by his struggles in the classroom, a factor which fully set in when coaches at Portland State's junior day essentially told him he'd have no chance of qualifying for a college scholarship.
"I got that mindset like, 'OK, I'm a big-time football player now, so I don't really have to go to school,'" Guice told the Oregonian. "I can just show up and teachers will pass me. I'd have an F in a class and then a week before the quarter ended I'd ask the teacher, 'What can I turn in to bring my grade up?' And I'd do a couple of assignments and bring my grade up to a D or whatever I had to have to keep myself eligible to play ball.
"I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew I didn't want to be a fifth-year senior. Something had to change."
That moment inspired Guice to make an almost impossible decision: He gave up his senior year of football at Jefferson for a semester at the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program (OYCP), which the Oregonian describes as "a five-month, highly structured alternative education program designed to help those who are failing high school improve their academic standing."
In the months at the OYCP, Guice has done just that, earning 8.5 course credits in just five months, pulling down a 3.7 GPA in the process. As a result, there is renewed interest in a player who was being recruited by some of the nation's best programs, even if he may have to spend time at a junior college program before taking the next step.
"Deion still has some work to do, but ... whoever gets this kid is getting a football player," Jefferson football coach Anthony Stoudamire told the Oregonian. "And, right now, they're also getting a better person who has a better understanding of what it takes to succeed."