Living in a college football hamlet like I do, this time of year the headlines are dominated by the high school hopefuls that are being pursued by the major colleges. Every one of those kids, of course, expects to play in the NFL. In a lot of cases, they make their decisions based on not what school is the best fit for them, but what school can prepare them the best for the next level.
Fans salivate at the prospect of seeing these kids make one big play after another. It is amazing how much some fans pin their hopes on a bunch of unproven, gangly teenagers. The reality, however, is that very few of these can’t miss kids ever make it to the next level, and others don’t even graduate. It’s anybody’s guess which one of these can’t miss kids won’t miss. Some obviously fulfill their potential. Others may have already peaked in high school, and others still surprise everyone, good or bad. It’s a numbers game (and speaking of numbers, check out the latest odds from BetUS sports betting).
Casey Hampton came to Texas as the least heralded of a group of defensive linemen back in the 90s. He blossomed at Texas (really blossomed, have you seen him?) and has since become an undisputed starter on the Steeler defensive line for the entirety of the 2000’s. He is set to play for his third Super Bowl. Who knew?
I bring this up because I have been following the melodrama of the young Mexican players who are struggling to find themselves over in the European theater. Like those hot-shot recruits, a lot of these guys were can’t miss prospects. Carlos Vela signed with Arsenal after a phenomenal performance in the U17 world cup. Giovani Dos Santos was slated to be the next Ronaldinho for Barcelona. Six years later, both of these prospects are at a crossroads in their career.
And they are both only 21 years old.
It was hard not to get excited about these two. Never before had two Mexican players shown so much promise, and what made it even better is whose team they were on. Let’s face it. When it comes to cultivating players, Brazil or Argentina, or even Uruguay we are not. It’s a numbers game here too. And hopes were pinned on two very promising players.
Questions abound about these two starlets: have they already peaked? Could they stand to benefit from a change of scenery? Have they been the victim of their own decisions?
It’s hard to say. Currently, they play for teams where they don’t fit a need, and are highly dispensable. But I certainly would not write them off. Arsene Wenger has not written of Vela. He wants to send him out on loan so that Vela gets that seasoning he desperately needs. Bolton seems the most likely place for him to land. If Vela has any kind of future at Arsenal, he will be loaned to Bolton. If he goes to a La Liga team, though, his future will not be as a gunner.
Giovani has been the victim bad decisions, bad counsel, and bad luck. No one forced him out of Barcelona. The coach that asked for him was then sacked after an awful start. When the new coach saw fit to finally play him, he was cutdown from behind with a tackle that tore his ankle ligaments. It also didn’t help that he developed a club-kid reputation. His future is very much in limbo.
Gio’s brother, Jonathan, has just been put on the list of transferables for Barcelona, just as Gio was a few years ago. Gio and his father/agent took this as a personal affront and went to the highest bidder. Will they make a rash decision like Gio did, or will they give every option the appropriate consideration.
It still begs the question, though. At what point do disappointing starlets begin to carry the bust label?
"Potential means you ain't done it yet."