I've never understood why college football programs allow their recruits to play in all-star games. Yes, it's a great honor, but it's also a great way to get your top player hurt before he ever walks onto campus. I've heard the argument... Whether a kid blows a knee in an all-star game, or fall practice on campus, he was going to blow his knee anyway. But, how do you know if those coaches are truly looking out for your recruit, or training him the way you would have trained him?
All I have to say is Tony VanZant. Never heard of him? Exactly! VanZant was considered the savior for the University of Missouri football program. The running back from Hazelwood Central high school in St. Louis was named the Parade Magazine national player of the year in 1985 (Emmitt Smith earned the same honor the following year). He could have gone anywhere, but he decided to stay in state and play for new Tigers head coach Woody Widenhofer. The summer before his freshman year at Missouri, VanZant decided to play in an all-star game. He blew out his knee in that game and never made it to Columbia that year. He would eventually play for Missouri, but was never the same after the injury. He's now a high school coach in Michigan.
Kevin Simon of Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, a Tennessee recruit, blew his knee in the 2000 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was forced to redshirt at Tennessee that year, and struggled with ankle and knee injuries the rest of his career. His story is a little more promising than VanZant's, though. The Redskins took a chance and drafted him in the 7th round this year. We'll see how those knees hold up in the NFL. Ironically, several De La Salle players have declined all-star game invitations ever since the incident with Simon.
High School all-star football games should be honorary. If a game would be played, these players would be included. If I'm Mack Brown, I wouldn't let Longview's Vondrell McGee anywhere near the THSCA All-Star game next Tuesday, especially following the announcement that Ramonce Taylor is leaving school. Chances are he won't get hurt, but why take that chance?
East Texans scheduled to play in the THSCA All-Star game Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at UT Memorial Stadium at 7:30 PM:
E. J. Shankle - WR - Lufkin (Texas A&M)
Vondrell McGee - RB - Longview (Texas)
Tyler Jones - LB - Emory Rains (SMU)
Jason Teague - DB - Carthage (LSU)
Kerry Maddox - DB - John Tyler (Washington St. )
Daylon McCoy - LB - Tatum (LA Lafeyette)
Dustin Earnest - LB - Texas High (Texas)
Deroderick Strickland - QB/WR - Big Sandy (Reedley College)
Justin Smart - LB - Marshall (SMU)
Jessie Harrison - LB - Paul Pewitt (Arkansas Tech)
Jared Lindsey - DT - Alto (Houston)
Britt Mitchell - TE - Kilgore (Texas)