Youth Football: 13 is the New 18

March 25, 2014 • Carlin Hertz • Front Page, Youth Football, Youth/HS

There is a new trend that is starting to catch fire in college football recruiting. FBS schools are now offering scholarships to middle school student athletes.

Yes, you read right so there is no need to adjust your eyeglasses.

Major college programs such as LSU, USC, Florida, Tennessee and even Kentucky are offering 12 and 13 year old scholarships. Clearly those scholarships can’t be honored until the player officially signs in February of their senior year, but the fact that college coaches are scouring middle schools for the next Heisman Trophy winner is pretty alarming.

Another trend that is gaining momentum is rankings. Youth football players are now being ranked as young as 10 years old.  I could never understand how you can rank the number one 10 year old signal caller in the country.

Parents have caught on to this new trend and have invested thousands of dollars into their sons paying for personal trainers, private coaches, camps and combines.

Should I invest in stock in youth camps or personal trainers?

Is this becoming a multi-billion dollar industry?

I believe so. Parents want their children to be better off than they were growing up. Plus, who doesn’t want their child to have their name called by the NFL Commissioner on Draft day?

I had a chance to interview one parent whose son is in the fifth grade and 10 years old.  Tyvon Edmonds, Jr. or “Lil Ty” is one of the most talented running backs in the state of Maryland. He currently plays for the Westlake Bulldogs in Waldorf, Maryland which is one of the premiere youth organizations in the state.

Although short in size, he makes up for it with explosive and powerful running, excellent field vision and a winner’s mentality that would make any coach fall in love with him. Last season, Lil Ty was rated as one of the top 100 youth football players in the country and competed at the Elite Football Camp at the University of Oklahoma.

Lil Ty’s dad, Tyvon Edmonds told me that he spends over $2,000 a year for his son to participate in training, camps, and combines. He admits that as his son gets older, the costs will definitely go up which he doesn’t mind.

“My son loves to get out there and work hard.  He loves to see the results of his hard work during the off season. So he doesn’t mind when I push him a bit,” said Edmonds.

“You either pay now or pay later.”

Pay now or pay later. A strong statement but very true. With college tuition rising like gas prices in excess of $30,000 or more per year, spending only $2,000 per year now seems like chump change.

Lil Ty keeps a busy schedule. Not only does he play football, he is an excellent point guard in basketball and runs track.  His week is filled with two hours of private basketball training, followed by two hours of grueling track practices three days a week. On the weekend there is football training with one of the most successful coaches in the Washington, D.C. area.

Despite staying busy, Lil Ty does find time to be a kid.

“My wife and I keep him balance.  He still is a 10 year old kid and being a kid comes first,” the elder Tyvon said.

Not only does Lil Ty excel on the football field, he is an excellent student and plays the trumpet for his school.

Tyvon, Sr. fully understands the process after going through it with Lil Ty’s older brother who is a freshman at Geneva College in Pennsylvania.

“I would take Lil Ty with me to all of his older brother’s events. I wanted him to see older kids work hard so he can get a sense of what hard work is about and how it can pay off in the long run.”

Tyvon, Sr. plans to keep his son busy during the spring and summer. He has mini camps lined up in several states, an appearance at an All-Star game in New England, and he will participate in college youth camps in North Carolina, Texas, and Florida.

“It’s important to see how he stacks up with the rest of the country. It will show him how much harder he has to work to achieve his goal.”

Parents beware. For every good youth camp out there, there are those camps that are poorly run and a waste of money. In fact, there are scams out there, where you can actually lose money so it’s best to do your research and find out as much information as you can before writing a check.

Location! Location! Location is everything. Camps that are held on college campuses or nice athletic complexes are the ones that you should invest in. Also, ask about the player to coach ratio. The smaller the ratio, the better the camp will be because your child will get the individual attention that he needs to be successful on the football field.

Youth sports are constantly evolving. Pretty soon, they will be offering six year olds scholarships. Well, okay, maybe not quite that young.

Photo: Tyvon Edmonds

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