Every couple of years I write an article like this. For all the things I love about college football and there are many, recruiting is one that I do not. Not because I think the system is unfair per say, but because I think too many colleges and even more recruits do it wrong. This year my example of what could have been and what never will be is Aaron Corp.
When Corp was in high school, recruiting services lauded him. He was a 5 star recruit, top 5 at his position and a young man in demand. He was also a southern California kid. So naturally he was in demand in the PAC-10. And by all accounts he was the real deal. I think it’s safe to assume when Corp was in high school and making his decision his future and how the NFL might fit in that future had to come into play. So he was set right? Wrong. Corp made a huge mistake, and please keep in mind this isn't hindsight because college players make this same bad choice year after year.
What did Corp do so wrong? Well first and foremost he picked the wrong school for the wrong reasons. This is a young man who had offers from USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Nebraska, and Oregon. Now if we assume that part of Corp’s decision was based on his NFL potential we can remove the University of Oregon from his choices since their offense is not conducive to producing NFL quarterbacks. But all the rest run pro style offenses to a much closer degree. And upon further inspection some of these teams were aching for a great young quarterback especially Nebraska, Arizona, and Colorado specifically. . Willie Tuitama, Cody Hawkins and Joe Ganz were the names of the quarterbacks he’d have been in competition with. So it makes perfect sense that a kid like Corp would have this be his final 3 right? Wrong.
Instead Corp decides to sign a LOI to play for Coach Peter Carroll and the USC Trojans. One of the best teams in the country, almost universally the No. 1 team in the nation preseason. Seems like a great situation for a player like Corp to be in right? Not so much. You aren't the top team in the nation without a great starting quarterback in place. But it wasn't all gloom and doom right? John David Booty was a Senior so Corp figures he will redshirt in 2007, and step into the starting job in 2008. But a few things didn't go quite as planned.
First, he didn't account for Mark Sanchez. A young man who’d been patient during his time as a backup for 3 years and was next in line to start for the Trojans. But that’s OK. Sit behind Sanchez in 2008, get some reps in garbage time and be good to go. And then when Sanchez gets hurt in fall camp, Corp had to be thinking the starting spot was his. But it wasn't meant to be. Corp was put alongside fellow backup Mitch Mustain. If that wasn't bad enough Sanchez got healthy before the start of the season and so the 2008 season is a wash. 2 years of college done, when in all likelihood he’d had been the starter at least one season in any of the 3 schools I mentioned.
Alright so we fast forward to the 2009 season. Sanchez is out of the picture, off to the NFL early and things are looking sweet for Corp. But an injury hits him, allowing Super Freshman Matt Barkley to step in. But in another soap opera like twist Barkley gets hurt 2 games in and Corp finally, more than 2 years into his college career gets his shot. And he pretty much blows it. But no one should be shocked. He’d had almost no meaningful reps and had to be dejected after the 2 years of frustration.
And so now we are in early 2010, Barkley is the most powerful man in southern California and that leaves Corp as a man without a team. He transfers to FCS Richmond Spiders for the 2010 season, and looks to be ready to roll as a redshirt junior. He’s been the starter for 2 years at Richmond and has put up modest numbers, but it’s painfully obvious Corp’s development as a player has been forever stalled because of a situation that he could have avoided.
Young men like Corp and so many more get recruited off flash and promises that could never be met, and commit for the wrong reasons. You didn’t need to look very far to realize that of the 7 teams that wanted him, USC’s situation was tenuous at best for him in terms of playing time, and should have been viewed as near the bottom if his hope was to play and impress NFL franchises. But he became enamored and heavily influenced by the cache’ that goes along with being a USC Trojan and for reasons I cannot possibly fathom thought 1) on an already loaded roster there was a place for him to start, and 2) the USC Trojans were going to be so sold on him they would give no other elite quarterbacks a scholarship while he was still earning his spot. He was painfully wrong on both. But was this ending not predictable? Seems to me is was.
It’s unfortunate that these young men don’t do a better job in selecting their schools. I don’t fault the schools. They have to get the best players not only on their team but keep them off of other teams every year. If these football players don’t have enough sense and don’t have handlers with enough sense to look out for their best long term interest than they get what they get. And before anyone wants to bring up the “education” that these young men get, please understand I am talking about those student athletes who are going to school with the sole intention of getting to the NFL.
I bring Corp up because he is going to be participating in the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend. I realize that this is only speculation, but I don’t think it’s far reaching to assume the development he got in 2 years at Richmond and his time on the pine at USC will show itself well in Indianapolis. In high school Corp was such a natural talent his ceiling was so high. But that won’t be what we are going to see. We’re going to hear about his raw ability and not his polish and poise. He could have potentially been a franchise type quarterback prospect, but because he was too arrogant and frankly too dumb to pick a great position for him to succeed he’s going to be labeled as a raw, developmental prospect. A tragedy that I am confident could have been avoided.
High School prospects have to have a better understanding of what their options are, lose some of the ego and make better choices. I feel bad for guys like Corp. He's going to get some love from guys like me prior to the combine, but you'd be a fool to think that the player we are going to watch in drills this weekend is the player we'd have seen with say 3 years as a starter at a school like Cal or Nebraska instead of 2 years at Richmond. I wish Corp good luck and I hope he gets the shot he never let himself have in college.