Marlon Humphrey, a 5-star safety recruit, caused quite a stir when he took to Twitter and basically called the whole university of Ole Miss racist.
Generalizations and social media are not the best combination. Throw in a hot-button topic like racism, and that's a recipe for social-media disaster.
It appears as if his original tweet was deleted, so here's the report on the incident from John Taylor of NBCSports College Football Talk:
For whatever reason Monday, Hoover (Ala.) High School recruit Marlon Humphrey got himself on a Twitter roll, with his highly-charged words aimed squarely at Ole Miss. In one tweet, the cornerback, who is the son of Alabama Crimson Tide great Bobby Humphrey, wrote that “Ole Miss was racist haha,” which was followed by a couple of tweets mentioning monthly KKK marches in the area.
Humphrey later “apologized” — “I’m sorry people y’all ain’t racist” — before adding “y’all just have KKK marches every month.”
A more sincere apology came after a plethora of other tweets and a few retweets about the situation, per Humphrey's twitter account:
This tweet is to the Ole Miss Coaching Staff and the Ole Miss Family. I have not been on your campus as a recruit. I have not felt any— Tyga Sims lll (@marlon_humphrey) June 25, 2013
Racism from anyone on your campus I am sorry for misleading anyone in thinking that there is any racism coming from the Ole Miss family— Tyga Sims lll (@marlon_humphrey) June 25, 2013
Just like there's two sides to every story, there are two distinct ways to view this situation and every other social media blunder from a recruit hereafter.
The first is to acknowledge that these recruits are kids. Kids inevitably do stupid things. Think back to your senior year in high school and think about all that you thought you knew when in reality there was a lot that you didn't know.
Making mistakes ultimately leads to learning, which ultimately leads to maturity.
Humphrey is still a kid and that's something we need to remember. More importantly, that's something that the people coming after him on Twitter need to remember.
With that in mind, as a 5-star recruit, Humphrey is not treated like a normal high school kid. He's being pursued and talked to by some of the most important college football coaches in the country, and when he says something—even on Twitter—people are going to listen.
He said it himself on his Twitter account: He's essentially a celebrity, and celebrities are held to different standards, fair or not:
In fact, anyone who lives in the public eye is held to a higher standard. That includes football players. Just ask any high school coach.
People treat high school recruits like celebrities— Tyga Sims lll (@marlon_humphrey) June 24, 2013
The truth of the matter is that if a high school recruit wants to play with the big boys at the college level, he's going to have to start acting like one as a recruit.
Coaches evaluate everything, even social media.
Not to get too philosophical, but what's posted on Twitter and Facebook is often times a window into who a person really is. Perhaps it's time for high school coaches to teach social media 101 and put it on the same plane of importance as reading coverages or recognizing run vs. pass blocking.
To put it all into perspective, Humprey is still projected to have a great career and this episode will pass, but talent can only get you so far. He could have probably done without all of this negative attention.
Social media has created jobs, but it can also be the reason they are taken away.
Like it or not, in a day and age where technology defines our society, who we are is being defined more and more by our Internet presence.
That's often times a hard lesson to learn, but it's a valuable one if you're planning on living your life in the public eye. It's a lesson CEOs, musicians, artists, teachers, sports writers and yes, football players, have to learn.
Frankly, it's something we all need to understand in order to move forward through the technology age.
It's about time that top recruits start learning how to navigate the Internet just as smoothly as they do the football field.