Friday, January 25, 2013
What happened to the 16 football players who signed to attend college?
National signing day is a big deal for a high school athlete. The day has evolved over the years, with cameras to broadcast the selection of blue chip studs.
Athletics take precedent over academics. The ability to run, jump, shoot and pass overshadows the ability to excel in the classroom. Fans obsess over the incoming freshman class. Visions of championships linger as the announcement of approaches. The life of young athletes is minimized by the echoing cheers of those who place championships over degrees.
Lost in the shuffle for athletic supremacy are the myriad of men and women who feel through the cracks. The exhilaration overshadows the sad memory of those who could have made it, yet failed to fulfill the promise of the day they signed their name to attend college. Many athletes never make it past the first year. Far too many leave us wondering what could have been if they had passed the grade.
The signing of Tyrone Outlaw, Jr. to attend the University of North Carolina – Greensboro rekindles memories of the man he’s named after. Tyrone Outlaw, Sr. was arguably the most sought after basketball player in the history of the PAC 6 athletic conference. He shared player of the year honors with Courtney Alexander, a freak of an athlete at Jordan High School who signed to play at the University of Virginia before transferring to Fresno State to play for Jerry “The Shark” Tarkanian.
Alexander was the 13th player selected in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. He was named the Rookie of the Month in April that year after averaging 22.9 points per game, and was named to the NBA-Rookie Second Team. Outlaw, in the eyes of many, was better than Alexander. Outlaw Sr. out played Antawn Jamison in the East-West All-Star Game, and was set to play at North Carolina State University.
Outlaw, now 36, has a criminal record dating back to 1996, and is now facing federal drug charges.
It’s not what shows up on signing day, it’s what shows up in the classroom after names are signed. The cheers from people packed in bleachers on signing day are the barometer of success after seasons of more wins than losses. Students and parents at Durham Hillside held their heads in pride after 16 football players from the 2010 state championship team signed national letters of intent. It was viewed as evidence of both athletic and academic prominence. Those familiar with the travails of the school celebrated the good news of a long season of bad headlines.
It was proof of a new day. Signing day meant a new day. 16 players headed to college. 16 reminders of hope springing from a field of unrelenting failure. Poor academic performance. A high dropout rate. The presence of gangs and violence. Both students and parents craved more than the bad news connected with the school they were proud to call their own. The answer was football. 16 examples of good things coming from a school so many viewed as the least of these.
An undefeated season was followed by the state championship. The championship was followed by the signing of 16 football players to attend college. What happened to the 16?
Vad Lee, the quarterback, signed to attend Georgia Tech, and led the Yellow Jackets to a win over the University of North Carolina on November 10, 2012 at Keenan Stadium. Lee rushed for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, and passed for 169 yards and another touchdown.
Where are the other members of that championship team? Of the 16 players, only five were on the roster at the school they signed with this past football season. Treshawn Council, who originally signed with East Carolina University, played at Louisburg College, but has transferred to play at East Carolina University.
10 players from that team can’t be accounted for on the team roster of the school the signed to attend.. Myer Krah and Jamaal Williams remain on the roster at the Navy Academy. Derick Vereen is at Elon University and Zac Giles is on the roster at North Carolina Central University. What happened to the rest?
It’s critical that we refrain from making assumptions related to those who can’t be accounted for on the roster of the teams they signed to play for back in 2010. Some may have transferred. Others may have dropped from the roster for other reasons. It’s a mystery, yet one worthy of solving.
We cheered with them on signing day. Should we forget them after the promise of free educations is fulfilled, or should we question what happened to prevent them to make it to the end of the game?
The game doesn’t end on signing day. The clock stops when they walk across the stage with a college degree.