If you haven't heard, Kentucky football just gave seventh grade cornerback Jairus Brents a verbal offer for a scholarship, according to Jared Shanker of RecruitingNation.
That's despite the fact that Brents won't be able sign until 2018.
Welcome to the world of college football recruiting, my friends.
Brents, whose godfather is former Louisville and Notre Dame receiver Chris Vaughn, is already seeing offers come his way and he's not even in high school yet. Why? Because it's always about getting into a young kid's ear first.
Unfortunately, this was inevitable the way the recruiting process has been going. In fact, quarterback David Sills—who is expected to sign with USC in 2015—was also courted in seventh grade in 2010.
Now, make no mistake about it, Brents has serious talent, even at a young age. That's why the Indiana product has already received an offer.
Per Shanker, he was grouped with all Class of 2014 receivers at the Kentucky camp recently and proceeded to notch three interceptions and break up several passes. Vaughn reportedly said (read into it what you will) he's "light years ahead" of Class of 2013 prospects James Quick and Jason Hatcher, both ranked as 4-star prospects by 247Sports.
Vaughn said, via Shanker:
It's not even close. [Brents] is a different breed of kid. He's super competitive. He expects to win every route. He's one of those kids who lights up the competition. Jairus is the best skill kid in the state right now.
But the concern I have is, if you start recruiting these kids in seventh grade, their best interests will be thrown to the wayside. High school prospects already face enough pressure at their age, including from their parents. If you start getting to kids in middle school, you may have already made up their minds for them before they even have a chance to think about it with some level of maturity.
Of course, that's the point. While Kentucky may treat Brents respectfully, the program clearly doesn't care about giving him some space early on. If it did, it wouldn't throw a verbal offer in the direction of a seventh-grader.
The fact that Kentucky went 2-10 last season in the SEC shouldn't go unnoticed, either. Kentucky is trying to get to Brents before the other big-time programs in the SEC do. While it may be a good strategy (how else is Kentucky going to land Brents in the future?), it still speaks to a problem in college football.
I believe the NCAA shouldn't even allow a verbal offer. When you are dealing with a seventh-grader (no matter how mature), a verbal offer can be as good as gold for him. The seed can be planted before he even realizes what is going on.
If Brents truly wants to go to Kentucky in the future, that's fine. I just hope that he has some room to make his own decision in the coming years.