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All are to blame for National Signing Day no-shows

January 30, 2012
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor (mwellens@miningjournal.net) , The Mining Journal

On Wednesday, the Upper Peninsula's best high school football players will participate in National Signing Day, including a select few from Marquette County.

For many, the day is a dream come true as the U.P.'s best from the gridiron sign a National Letter of Intent to play for the college football team of their choosing.

Hopefully, Wednesday is not the last day we hear of those student-athletes.

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MATT WELLENS

In 2011, six football players from Marquette, Negaunee and Ishpeming signed with Bernie Anderson and the Northern Michigan Wildcats, as did two others from the Upper Peninsula.

Of those eight, only one player saw substantial time. Ishpeming High School's Wyatt Jurasin was active in all 11 games as a true freshman and inside linebacker, finishing with a forced fumble, pass blocked and 44 tackles, including 21 that were solo takedowns.

Two others from Marquette County - Negaunee defensive back Dan Bingel and Marquette offensive lineman Zak Green - redshirted their freshmen year and played on the scout team. The same was true for Sault Ste. Marie linebacker C.J. Weber and Kingsford offensive lineman Jim Joski.

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As for the other three recruits, they never became Wildcats. Two players were ineligible due to grades while another had conduct issues that kept him off the team.

It would be easy to place all the blame on those players - whose names I'm leaving out of this piece to save them the embarrassment - for squandering a golden opportunity and all three should be disappointed in themselves for not being able to follow through on their commitment.

However, there should be just as much blame placed on those around the student-athletes for not properly preparing them for the next level.

Starting at the local high schools, coaches, teachers and administrators need to make sure all student-athletes are living up to more than the athlete part of their title. If an athlete isn't eligible to play for the NCAA, then what makes them suitable to play high school athletics?

At the collegiate level, coaches and administrators who woo these perspective high school athletes need to do a better job of making sure recruits are ready for college on and off the field. In the rush to keep recruits from rivals, universities need to slow down and make sure players are fit to go to college.

The NLI board should also set higher standards for who can and cannot sign.

Once that letter is signed, all parties involved should be twice as active in making sure the student-athlete lives up to the hype and attention given on Wednesday - athletically and academically.

What good does all that hype and attention do the athlete, families and schools involved when the name touted is no longer heard from again?

It's a black eye for everyone that could easily be prevented.

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.

 
 

 

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