There are many opinions when it comes to youth football and how much attention is now given to top performers. The recent saturation of youth football camps and All American All Star games have contributed to a rapid growth of online media outlets and web sites that claim to be the number one youth ranking systems. Most of these sites are constantly under scrutiny because it seems that they cater to one region more than others or they fall to the fast money payout of larger camp providers that force them to only cover their kids.
When we look at High School Football and College recruiting I have to question how valid are youth rankings. We all have the story of the top youth football player in our City that never made it to College. There are so many factors that play a role in whether a kid will ever make it to the next level.
At the prep level players now have to overcome academic deficiencies as well as continue to train and work hard towards continuing development. There are also the nagging injuries that may appear from playing such a physical game. The kids that physically developed early or that were reclassified for maturity now have to compete with kids that have reached their growth spurts.
The three Central California football players pictured throughout this article were not well known as youth football players. They dominated their local leagues and played in smaller scale all star games that never brought the notoriety that the bigger city kids were given. I now look at Kevin Palma who is a starting LB at Stanford, Matt Smith who is a freshman RB at Air force, Romello Harris who averages 350 rushing yards a game and is sitting on more than 15 major College offers and ask myself, did their youth rankings hurt them.
Let this article be a reminder to us all that our kids are one play away from ever playing this game again. Cherish the moments they have and stay humble during the process. Manage your kids properly and focus on the important things such as academics, training, and supporting them through a good high school experience.