This article pairs well with this soundtrack (NSFW lyrics and also very 2006)
I don’t follow recruiting.
I used to. In fact, at one point in college, I wanted to work for a recruiting website (hold for shock to sink in).
Something happened to your boy Crow along the way, dear reader. Something that jaded him, that turned him into a person who doesn’t follow recruiting at all.* Im more cynical now because of it, but I have a lot more time on my hands.
That something that jaded me so deeply was the saga of JuCo defensive tackle, Greg Smith of Northeast Mississippi Junior College was the number 3 overall player coming out of the JUCO ranks and whispers about his otherworldly size and athleticism spread the day he committed.
I was big on the boards back in 2006, and it seemed that every third post or thread contained some mentioned of this monster nose guard who would win three heismans and single handedly anchor the greatest defensive line in Auburn history. He showed up to campus at 350lbs and was either out of shape or extremely out of shape depending on which coach was interviewed.
That didn’t stop the board “insiders” from spreading nonsense about Greg Smith. Rumors, innuendo, legendary feats of athletic strength the likes of which no one had ever seen before.
“I heard he can do a standing back flip in pads!”
“Heard he chose Auburn even tho the REC offered him a car and a house.”
“Could be Germans, but I heard he can do a standing back flip in pads!”
“CTT probably won’t play him because he doesn’t like JUCO guys, JABA.”
“Anybody seen anything about his grades”
“Heard he benched a thousand pounds!”
“Insider buddy said he’s 400lbs and ran a 4.9 yesterday at practice.”
The message boards would light themselves on fire every time a new photo of Greg Smith would appear. Future Candidate for Senate** Tommy Tuberville was asked about Smith every single day of the spring and summer of 2006 and each beat writer must have written an article a week on the mysterious human fire hydrant who had yet to play a down for Auburn.
I obsessed over this person. We all did. Tubs called him “the Internet King,” because of all the online hype surrounding Smith. Surely if all this ink was spilled over him, and all these professional journalists were interested in him, he must be a future All-Pro. I had yet to realize how the internet works. And in these early days of online recruiting information, players were overrated and under-evaluated all the time, based on nothing more than rumors and confirmation bias.
I have played as much football for Auburn as Greg Smith. Neither of us played a snap in a game, and Greg was off the team and out of our minds almost as quickly as he arrived. He signed to play at NAIA school Cumberland in 2008 and played there for at least a season, according to a Bing I just did.***
There are no videos of Greg Smith playing football on youtube that I could find. No “JUNIOR YEAR HIGHLIGHTS” set to horrible trap music. No twitter account that said “PLEASE RESPECT MY DECISION” after each de-commit and recommit. This was before all that became the norm. This was back in internet recruiting 1.0, when hype would get out of hand based purely on speculation and grainy photos of young men in baggy workout clothes.
It’s unfair to call Greg Smith a bust, because it is unfair to call anyone from this era a bust. We got our hopes up for no reason, we overhyped a kid who didn’t ask for it. We heard what the coaches said about him, disregarded it, and then made up wild Paul Bunyan stories about a player NONE of us had seen play. Then when he didn’t live up to those standards, we blamed him. He fell out of favor with the coaches, couldn’t get into shape, and left the team.
I don’t follow recruiting because of this saga, and I hope you use the saga of Greg Smith to remind you to not take this stuff too seriously, to not put too much stock in starz, and to wait to judge a player until after he has played for the team.
*outside of reading all of AUNerd’s incredibly well researched and informed articles on this web page, of course.
**Why not? At this point in our political history, I assume literally everyone is qualified for office.
***I dont actually use Bing. Just pretend I do for the laugh, though.