HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS COMMENTARY

Baxter: Multi-sport athletes a dying breed

scvarsity@sc.rr.comMay 27, 2013 

IT IS DIFFICULT TO talk about multisport athletes and football recruiting. In an age of specialization and year-round training, I’d like to believe that the two- and three-sport athlete can survive.

The thought of advising a multisport athlete to specialize in one sport makes me cringe. I’m a former football coach and have been a recruiting analyst for more than two decades, but I’m a dad first and I understand the importance of being a kid and enjoying everything there is to enjoy growing up. That includes playing as many sports as you can if that is what you want to do. If your son enjoys football and baseball, let him play both for as long as he can.

But understand that your multisport son is going to pay a price, whether directly or indirectly.

Your multisport son is competing against the same kids who are focused year-round on football. Players and parents are flocking to personal trainers, mentors and position coaches. The growth of 7-on-7 spring football has been evident this year.

While your son is hitting a ball or shooting hoops or running track, a year-around football player is lifting weights, speed training and focused on recruiting, self-promotion and attending camps and combines.

Of the 400 players at our annual All-State Football Combine at Newberry College last month, I would bet 90 percent were football-only players. I am holding a second event in July to accommodate those who were tied up in baseball and track.

Know this, though; while your son plays a Saturday doubleheader or runs in a track meet, the football competition is focused on getting better and making a name for themselves through exposure at the same time. They are getting the edge. Those kids are working year-round to take your kid’s spot.

To those players who continue to attempt to keep the two and three-sport letterman alive, I salute you. I just hope it doesn’t cause you to become a casualty in the football recruiting arena.

UNDER THE RADAR PLAYERS

Alex Brown, WR/DB, Lake Marion (2014)

Brown (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) is one of the more elusive players I’ve seen. He’s an excellent fit as an “A” back in a winged offense and has drawn attention from Georgia Tech. He’s very dangerous on special teams, which makes him even more attractive as a prospect.

Mike Taylor, DE/TE, Allendale-Fairfax (2014)

This 6-2, 230 athlete was unblockable for the Tigers last season, and his prowess has landed him verbal offers from Appalachian State, S.C. State and Charleston Southern.

Shy Phillips, DB, Hartsville (2014)

Phillips (6-1, 170) is a monster in the secondary. He’s a big-time hitter and has the athleticism and hips to cover in man coverage. He’s a cross between Stephon Gilmore (coverage and athleticism) and former Conway standout Allen Patrick (big hitter in run support).

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