In this day and age, SEC football players have it made in the shade.
Life is gift-wrapped on a silver platter for them. They’re given a free ride to a notable university, and with college football’s popularity always on the incline, they get to showcase their talent on a grand stage.
Athletes who separate themselves from the rest of the pack are being prepped to make millions in the NFL, so with a future so bright, staying out of trouble shouldn’t be so hard, right? Wrong.
One minute an athlete is untouchable with the world at his fingertips. Everyone’s telling him how dynamic his skill set is and that he’s the next Jim Brown or the next Calvin Johnson.
As a result, college becomes a place where all of the hard work takes place in the weight room, film room and between the lines of a spray-painted practice field. Furthermore, college is a place where you are a king on campus, because not only do you win football games, but you also generate revenue with jersey sales.
As for the classroom, well, who needs grades when football’s offering you a life of a millionaire? All one must do is produce on the field and impress scouts, and your life is set. You might as well be immortal.
But after getting arrested for marijuana, burglary or some other felony, it can all vanish. Just ask Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell.
After facing three charges, with two of them being felonies, Crowell went from being in-and-out of head coach Mark Richt’s Dawg house to kicked off the team last week. Crowell was dismissed after he was charged with possession of a gun with an altered ID, carrying a weapon in a school zone and possession of a concealed weapon.
This happens to be the same guy fans watched run through and around defenders in the SEC as a freshman in 2011. You know, the same player that rushed for 850 yards and five touchdowns.
And worst of all, he’s the same player that could have been the next Herschel Walker. But after everything he’s done, such comparisons are unsupportable.
But Crowell is simply the latest casualty with off-the-field struggles. His teammate, Baccari Rambo, who is thought to be one of the best safeties in the nation, will miss four games next season after testing positive for marijuana.
And as good as Rambo is, he isn’t the biggest name to be suspended in 2012 for marijuana. Nope, that reward goes to Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, one of the most exciting players in the ACC and college football.
It’s unsure how many games Watkins will miss this season. So now, one of the nation’s top receivers will miss playing time, and he’s not only hurting his image, he’s hurting his teammates. Facing Auburn in the first game of the season is going to be rather difficult without Watkins split wide, don’t you think?
And these are just a few examples. Heck, Arkansas' Marquel Wade still isn't part of the program for allegedly burglarizing a student's room.
Come to figure out, felonies are just too tempting to pass up. But perhaps that’s just the way things are now. We all know college is a time to live it up among friends, but these athletes have to know that everything they do is under a microscope.
One slip-up and it's plastered around various media outlets, and the player's football career could be in jeopardy. Maybe coaches need to implement a strategy in their recruiting that somehow analyzes the character of a player to avoid such scenarios.
Obviously such notions are impractical, but it’s old getting high on players that are dismissed or suspended for getting high off of a plant.