LSU made recruiting headlines the last few years by recruiting two middle school prospects. Les Miles offered scholarships to Dylan Moses, who is currently committed to LSU, and Zadock Dinkelmann, who also committed to the Tigers this year.
Moses wasn’t a typical middle schooler, sitting at 6-1, 215 pounds and having a 34-inch vertical, along with a 4.40 40 (watch his highlight film) Dinkelmann, along with having the best name in the recruiting rankings, has all the makings of a future top signal caller.
Miles has taken much flack for his decision to extend scholarships to younger prospects, and he explained his rationale to the AJC.
“It’s very interesting. Certainly we don’t know all the great players in the country. But those young players that are exceptional – when you come across them, you just know it. We recognize the family, and we recognize a characteristic that they will do well academically and that they have a size and speed component that will only improve. We know they are doing well off the field. Those kind of guys, sometimes they can be young players. We’ve not shied away from them. When we can identify them, we’ve not shied away from offering them.”
Several have criticized Miles, as well as other schools and coaches, for doing it, but the truth is, there is so much time between when the kids commit and when they sign as seniors. They could quit football; they could not develop as fully as anticipated; they could get hurt; head coaches could leave or get fired. So much can change in a year, much less in four years. Miles talked about the difficulty of the middle school prospects keeping their commitment.
“I certainly think that that’s a consideration,” he said. “I don’t know that we have given thought to how long we’re going to keep the commitment. But I think the commitment is one that is made with intention. I think for the right kids, it won’t be a problem at all. I think those guys will have understood that that’s the school that they always wanted to go to … So I think that they are making great decisions, generally.”
Lane Kiffin offered the Berry twins in 2009 when they were in middle school. Mark Stoops offered a seventh grader who dominated their football camp. Nick Saban also offered Dylan Moses. Hell, even former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said he’d offer a scholarship to a child in the womb. Maybe that’s a bit too far?
The reality of this trend – good or bad – says this will keep happening, and more and more middle school prospects will be offered scholarships. Will the NCAA ever step in? The NCAA doesn’t know what they’re going to do tomorrow, much less well into the future.
We’re going to continue to see this trend continuing, whether you agree with it or not.
Check out the AJC’s full Q&A with Les Miles.
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports