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Prep recruiting process not so dreamy thanks to so-called ‘fans’
Within the pages of this week’s Sylvania Telephone newspaper is a list of the newest recruits for Jeff Monken’s Georgia Southern Eagles, a squad that last season reached the semifinals of the Football Championship Subdivision in the first year of the Monken Era.
Writing this literary piece a day before the first prep standout officially signs on the dotted line Feb. 2, I cannot tell you all the names of the Class of 2011.
You will need to review the names in the sports section at your leisure.
With that typed, I am well assured GSU will have a collection of players labeled as “athletes.” Some of those players will become defensive backs. Some slotbacks. Some wide receivers. And some return specialists.
All will possess speed and a lot of it. That is called stockpiling when your Eagles are only losing two of their 22 starters from a year past.
For the prized recruits, the process of selecting just the right school to offensively push a pigskin across a goal line or defensively stop any of the opposition’s forward progression often is a pleasurable experience.
While seemingly everybody wants you, the process thanks to some so-called “fans” was not a delight for a five-star high school recruit this year from Mississippi. Five-star recruits are the elite of the elite – a, if there is such a thing, can’t-miss college stud and projected future first-round draft pick into the NFL. Easily stated: The best of the best.
C.J. Johnson of Philadelphia, Miss., is such a player.
Johnson like other blue chippers had numerous athletic scholarship opportunities on the table.
He announced last week he had picked Ole Miss and had quit Facebook at the same time following a recruiting experience he termed “a living nightmare.”
As a high school junior, Johnson originally had committed to Southeastern Conference rival Mississippi State, but then changed his mind when defensive coordinator Manny Diaz accepted the same role with the Texas Longhorns. The reversal by the state’s top prospect ignited a multitude of peeved messages.
The whole Facebook saga shocked Johnson’s mother Linda Johnson.
“People on Facebook trying to tell him this school is this and that school is that,” his mother, Linda Johnson, told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper. “Mississippi State fans posing as Ole Miss fans and Ole Miss fans posing as Mississippi State fans. It was just crazy. To me, that’s a little too far. I was just surprised at some of the things adults were saying.”
C.J. Johnson read the untruths in disbelief.
“I saw rumors on the Internet with people saying I decommitted from Mississippi State because my momma has been working for this Ole Miss guy and she cleaned his house up for a year and she made $100,000,” he told the newspaper. “If my momma made $100,000 a year, I wouldn’t be driving the truck that I’m driving. I would have had a vehicle a long time ago. It’s just the little stuff like that.
“I got a lot of trash talking by both schools on Facebook, but that didn’t have a lot to do with it. But when you start getting my mom involved and my family involved, that takes it to a whole another level.”
So on Jan. 25, C.J. Johnson waved goodbye to Facebook with this statement:
“This is my last Facebook post and I’m gonna leave facebook with this. Linda Johnson has never worked as a house worker making 100,000 dollars a year and I will not be a Mississippi state bulldog and I’m not considering Mississippi state anymore bc you have constantly comment on my page send me crazy inboxes and has made my recruiting experience a living nightmare. Goodbye facebook.”
I am not going to deem Facebook or any Internet avenue of communications as the spawn of Satan. It does provide a great deal of goodness.
However, with any good there must also be bad. The Internet does afford anyone with a keyboard, computer screen and access to the Web the capability of spewing forth anything they feel the hankering to type at that moment.
While self-ordained wordsmiths do hunt-and-peck items of the rational truth, many – too numerous to count – pontificate in talks they know less about than the theory of relativity.
“You can find anything on the Internet,” I and plenty others have said. However, whether any of what you do find is factual is another story.
Tenured adults are quick to jump with both feet onto adolescents evolving into adulthood when they overstep the bounds, but always remember they got the initial notion from somewhere else.
If the five-star rule of expectations goes to plan, Johnson will continue to make Mississippi State fans wish he instead donned the Bulldogs’ maroon and white colors and Ole Miss fans glad he is a Rebel.
As for Monken’s Eagles, he -- like a country of other coaches – will gladly accept a five-star athlete, and some “fours” for that matter, on National Signing Day.
Whether they have a Facebook account wouldn’t be a requirement.
Enoch Autry is the publisher-editor of the Sylvania Telephone.