The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Not all stars burn brightly

Kevin+Sumlin+addressing+the+media+on+National+Signing+Day
Photo by By Lawrence Smelser
Kevin Sumlin addressing the media on National Signing Day

The vaunted and highly sought after five-star recruit. Typically a player who was the superstar on his high school squad and was recruited by many different schools. The recruit is only 17 or 18 years old and has already met with the smartest minds in college football who try to persuade him to be on their team. The recruit has been dubbed a five-star athlete, but remains only a high school teenager. The youngster still has yet to play ball against college athletes who have proven themselves on a college level.

The recruit then joins the team, and if they enroll early, they play spring football. If they go as scheduled, they start practicing in the summer or fall with the team. The player will join up with other fellow recruits and walk-ons. Some were two stars, some were four stars, one or two will be five stars, and there will be “no stars.” The stars given to the players are just a number. What isn’t attributed to the player are qualities of hard work, determination and a good attitude. 

One perfect example is J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time Pro Bowler. Watt nearly secured the MVP award but finished second behind Aaron Rodgers in 2014, which is a rarity for defensive players. Watt was a two-star athlete coming out of Pewaukee High School in Wisconsin and originally went to Central Michigan. Watt then transferred to Wisconsin and walked on to the football team. From then on, the 26-year-old gradually improved and is now a household name. 

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is another prime example of a player reaching great heights despite not being highly rated. Brown received zero stars by recruiting site Rivals.com, but flourished at Central Michigan and was drafted low, during the sixth round as the 195th overall pick. In the NFL, Brown has already cemented his name in the history books. He has made the Pro Bowl four out of his six years in the league, and was also the AFC Offensive Player of the Year in 2014. He leads the league in receptions the last two seasons and is arguably the best wide receiver currently in the NFL. The 5-foot-10 receiver worked hard and showed determination to make it to the top and succeed.

No matter how many games a player won in high school, or how “famous” they are due to their five-star rating, it’s what they do on the field that will determine their success at the next level. Five-star quarterback Mitch Mustain never found success in college. Mustain was named the High School Player of the Year by PARADE in 2006, 2005-2006 Gatorade National Player of the Year, and the 2005 USA Today National Player of the Year. 

Mustain played under current Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn in high school and was considered a prodigy. However, the young quarterback’s career never panned out after playing at Arkansas briefly and starting only eight games, he transferred to USC but sat behind Matt Barkley and Mark Sanchez for most of his career. Mustain never eclipsed 1,000 yards passing with either program and finished his college career with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. 

At Texas A&M, two five-star quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, came to A&M extremely decorated out of high school, but neither showcased a highly impressive body of work and both transferred during the 2015 season before the Music City Bowl. Allen performed better than Murray going 9-5 as a starter, but eventually found himself benched after poor performances against Alabama and Ole Miss.

Murray was ranked the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school and won the Gatorade Player of the Year award after leading Allen High School to a 42-0 record over three seasons and winning three state championships. 

What ensued for Murray at Texas A&M was a culmination of hype, a negative attitude, and constant competition for the quarterback position. The Allen native finished with a 2-1 record but was constantly surrounded by a number of issues. After Murray entered A&M’s game against Alabama, the freshman threw an interception and was taken out of the game. Murray “cussed” out offensive coordinator Jake Spavital on the sidelines after being withdrawn and eventually transferred to Oklahoma. 

Stars give a good indication of talent out of high school, but they don’t prove a player’s worth or success at the collegiate or professional level. Determination, hard work and attitude do. After all, seven of the last ten Heisman winners were not given five stars coming out of high school. Three winners were three-star recruits — Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel and Sam Bradford. 

 

Lawrence Smelser is a journalism junior and co-sports editor for The Battalion.

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