February 8, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen

Despite the fact I don’t put a lot of faith in the college football “recruiting process” as a whole,
I know many of you would like Your Favorite College Football Prognosticators opinion on the latest recruiting news.

So here goes…..

When I hear any member of the national sports media declare the “Recruiting National Championship”…
It makes me want to retch.

And I’ll tell you why…..

Yes it’s important to have good players attend your university…
But it’s equally important to have good kids with character that are willing to be coached attend your school.

That being said, it’s also important to have coaches who can and will work patiently with those kids…
Because that is what they are: kids

The college football world is littered with big names coming out of high school that started out with great expectations..
Only to sizzle out like a cheap Chinese firecracker.

Once promising careers, over before they got started.

You are thinking of a few of those names as we speak aren’t you?
I know I am…

But if you ask me who I thought did the best in recruiting this year, after all that’s why you are reading this article, right?
I will tell you..


Before we get into all that……
I want to comment on Stewart Mandel’s article in Sport’s Illustrated who declared….
“The University of Southern California Trojans will be playing in the 2012 National Championship game”
Based on what the magazines resident Trojan lover gushingly assumes is the greatest pool of talent ever assembled in all of college football.

My comment is simply this……
Wasn’t Stewart the same gibbering idiot that said after the Trojans defeated the Buckeyes last year;
“Pencil the Trojans into the National Championship game, they are on their way to Pasadena!”

Stewart really knows how to put the “Dumb” in “Ass”, doesn’t he?

Now let’s talk college football recruiting for a moment.

You know who did well and who did “surprisingly” well recruiting this year..
So I won’t waste your time and space rehashing what the recruiting services said
or discussing the “amazing” qualities of high school kids who haven’t taken a snap in college football yet.

But you want to know who I thought did the best in recruiting this year, right?

The Might Clemson Tigers and I will tell you why.

Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney honored a scholarship the Tigers offered to a high school linebacker a year ago…
Who will never play a down in Death Valley.

Jake Nicolopulos was a wonderfully gifted, talented linebacker from Anderson South Carolina.
He was fast, hard hitting and a good student at T. L. Hanna High School about twenty minutes from Clemson.

Jake had accepted a scholarship to play for the Clemson Tigers a year ago
and it was the culmination of a life long dream to play in Death Valley.

Jake had a stroke in December.

Jake couldn’t talk or write, or even walk after major surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain.
Jakes’ parents, Craig and mother Ann, were told by doctors their son might not survive.
But he did make it, assisted by surgery that removed part of his skull cap to relieve pressure on his brain.
His father said it was stored in his abdomen and will eventually be reattached to his head.

Immediately after word of Jakes condition reached the Tigers, Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips pledged to Swinney
the players’ scholarship would be honored and maintained.

“He will be a part of this family,” Coach Swinney said.

Swinney and his other assistant coach’s tracked Jakes progress during his hospital stay in Anderson..
then as he was moved to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a facility that specializes in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injuries.
Swinney and his assistant coach’s visited Jake soon after the stroke when the teenager could not speak and only had control of the left side of his body.
They presented him with a No. 9 Clemson jersey with his name on the back.
“He clutched that thing and pulled it right up to his face with his good hand,” Assistant Coach Brad Scott said.
“I’ll never, ever forget that.”

Two months later he had improved enough to sign his National Letter of Intent with Coach Swinney

Slowly, Jake has learned to walk.
His speech has increased, although Craig acknowledged there are many long days of work ahead.

Jake has started his second stage of rehab – six-to-eight weeks of outpatient physical therapy in Atlanta.
He might need speech therapy after that before returning to Anderson and a future at Clemson.
“This is realized dream for him that he achieved, that he earned,” Swinney said.
“God had a little bit of a different plan for him.
But I don’t have doubt at all Jake Nicolopulos will make an impact at Clemson.”

He already has Coach, he already has.

Coach Swinney and the Clemson Tigers reminded us all college football is more than a game.

It’s about Character

It’s about Patience

It’s about Life



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  1. Olajide Ijadare on February 8, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Excellent read. A wonderful and moving story indeed. Despite my despise for everything Klempson, I’ll give once in a lifetime Kudos to the Clemson AD and coaches for standing by and honoring Jake Nicolopulos scholarship…Concur 100%, it’s indeed the best recruiting tonic out of DV in my lifetime.

  2. Kaye on February 9, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I’d like to respond but can’t type thru the tears.

    Once again, you said it best!

  3. Matt on February 9, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Thanks for telling this story. Its a shame the major media outlets don’t share stories like this. Its all about the fake USC.

  4. Icheer4Bama on February 10, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    You know in Bull Durham where Kevin Costner says to Tim Robbins, “God gave you a gift…He reached down and touched your arm…”? Well, God reached down and gave you the gift of how to tell a story. I am uplifted everytime I read your posts.

    Thanks for sharing this, and yourself.


  5. The BamePrincess on March 3, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Dang Mr. Wizard!! You sure know how to tell a great story!! We can’t say it enough – – – you ROCK!!!! Thank you for always sharing and keeping us informed about the big stories and the not-so-big stories!!!

    The BamaPrincess!!!


  6. The BamePrincess on March 3, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Oh and ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!

  7. rtrbamafan on May 31, 2010 at 8:33 am

    I want to say thank you today for all you’ve done and continue to do to keep our country safe ! You’re a true Hero !
    We love and appreciate you.

  8. ant on July 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Stud you are. Shout out to all those ‘rowdy friends’ we share.

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