There you have the scoreboard of CSRA football players that signed college scholarships from GHSA member schools on National Signing Day last Wednesday, Feb. 7. Noticeably absent from that list is Thomson High School.
It is hoped that some Thomson players will eventually get the chance to play college football, but the cold, hard fact is that none signed a scholarship on the big day. Why do you think this is?
On the above list are state champions all the way down to schools that won only one game. Nine scholarships were given to Richmond County public school student-athletes who we consider as giving only cursory attention to football. Those schools don't pay for the best coaches or stress year-round conditioning and weight training like Thomson High School does. Those schools don't have big booster clubs or a huge following of fans that fill their stands on Friday nights like Thomson does.
Thomson coach Luther Welsh sent highlight videos to 17 schools in an effort to land scholarships for his seniors. Still no luck. Even colleges like Savannah State and Fort Valley State did not see fit to offer our local players a chance.
College rosters have recently been filled with Bulldogs from the 2002 state championship team. A few kids since then have made it on the college level but the number has dwindled to a big fat zero for this year. What gives?
This dearth of college level football players can't help but lead to one question. Do good coaches make good players or do good players make good coaches? Did all of those kids from 2002, end up on college teams because they were well schooled by their coaches or were they just so great that all the coach had to do was get them on the bus and show up on time?
I doubt seriously that the coaches at Thomson High have forgotten how to coach in the last five years. In my mind's eye they did have great athletes in 2002 and they did a superior job of coaching them to be champions. They made the same effort with this most recent team, but the lack of signees would indicate they did not have great athletes.
I am also convinced that those kids that made it to college were dedicated from the get-go. Starting in middle school, and maybe even earlier, they put their minds to the task of being the best football players they could be. A big part of that equation was staying out of trouble and keeping up with their schoolwork.
Those kids made it easy for Coach Welsh to recommend them and easy for colleges to find them. Am I saying that the latest groups of Bulldogs are troublemakers or bad students? No, I am not.
What I am saying is that a good high school football coach will do his job in helping young men move forward. That is happening at Thomson High School. I also am saying that these same young men better have encouragement from their parents and a ton of reinforcement on doing the right things early in life if they want a college scholarship. There is a lot more to it than rushing for 100 yards or making 15 tackles on game night.
It is still primarily up to the young person to get himself on a signing day list. It involves character, academics and athleticism. If those issues are not addressed by middle school, there will be future goose eggs on the first Wednesday in February.