Monday, a bit of what most folks call "interesting news" came across the AP wire. As posted at Yahoo! the son of singer John Mellencamp, Hud Mellencamp, was on the roster as a walk-on football player at Duke University.
When the story originally popped in June, it was largely less than big news as people focused on the "P. Diddy's kid got a scholarship" ordeal. There was also the point that Hud Mellencamp was merely going to attempt to walk-on.
Meaning his fate was not yet decided. He was still, at least it seemed, a tryout player for the Blue Devils.
Now that he's been issued a number, 17, it seems the icon's son is on the squad; prompting head coach David Cutcliffe to make this comment:
He says the plan is to shield Mellencamp from the media and ''try to keep him back behind the scenes''
All I can say is that I hope Cutcliffe is being fair. Being a college football walk-on is a tough job. I know because I was one. Walk-ons are not just guys off the streets who want to "give it a go." They're accomplished ball players in their own right. For me, I was a guy with some BCS offers I didn't want, plenty of non-BCS interest and the obvious FCS opportunity. I wanted to go to North Carolina, football or not, and they capitalized on the free labor by getting an All-Conference, All-County preferred walk-on.
Other walk-ons came in that had played in the Shrine Bowl. Others were All-State players or record holders. Hud Mellencamp, by contrast, has never even played organized competitive football at the high school level. He's starting from square one. As in learning how to put on his gear, learning how to get into a stance, learning what basic terminology means and so on. That doesn't even take into account the fact that he's supposed to be learning a defense and being able to contribute, at least on scout and look teams.
Watching this situation will be interesting. The "I wanna try football" push from less than accomplished football players comes every fall and every spring. Guys that get gassed up on hopes and dreams, hopped up on Rudy; they head out for the open tryout ever year and every year they get sent home with hurt pride. Football's hard. It's not for everyone.
In this situation, let's just hope that Cutcliffe is being fair. Not just to Hud Mellencamp, but to his team as a whole. Coaches don't spend a lot of time teaching random walk-ons the basic skills of the game. They're too busy trying to fix the two deep, get their special teams together and do all the things to get ready to win games.
If the kid swims, he swims. If he sinks, he sinks. Let's just hope that Cutcliffe lets him do it on his own. That's how real walk-ons do it.
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