COVID-19 has changed the world in more ways than one. Actually henceforth history will be written as pre-COVID era and post COVID era, something like BC and AD. It is not very amusing though it appears to be so. The pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to all activities of modern day existence, which includes sports. Here person-to-person contact is an essential activity, which has suddenly become a taboo.
However, it is encouraging to notice that out of all the scary and horrific stories, the human spirit soars high. There is a tremendous effort all around the world to return back to normal, and get into the old rhythm. Well, some say it is no longer possible to get back to the ‘old normal’, but the enthusiasts argue that at least we can strive to get back to a ‘new normal’. Many online sports betting sites have come up where supporters can even earn money by doing betting seeing the live games.
With this scenario as the backdrop let us see what is happening with the much-loved sports of football in the USA. Every year a bunch of tough guys from the high school gear up to make a show of their talent and scramble up the countrywide competitive assessment ladder to gain the top laurels. This year was not only different but devastatingly so for many contenders. As if the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic are not enough, the fumbling with the issue of Corona Virus at the administrative level has added salt to the wound.
At last the good news is that the sports experts have revealed the watch list of 1,000 high school senior football players for the 2020 All-American team. All eyes are riveted to the finalists of SIAA, as it will lead to college football’s recruitment for the year 2021.
This evaluation process usually includes official and unofficial visits to the campus during spring and summer. The pandemic has changed this mainly because the colleges are not physically open. The students have joined colleges without actually visiting the campus. This has expedited the process of evaluation as the high school seniors in the SIAA list have verbally committed to the colleges. The downside is that at the time of actual signing which is supposed to take place in December, there is a threat of withdrawal of commitments.
As supporting documents to the evaluation, video highlights, scouting analyses and a list of each player’s college verbal commitment have been compiled broken down by states.
There are two aspects, which is relevant. The first is that if the pandemic situation changes for the better, there could be a corresponding shifting of preferences. Secondly, as fallout of the first, the coaches have to remain hyperactive and compete to ensure that the players remain loyal. Overall, the situation is unprecedented.
The evaluation process will continue until the list of 25 finalists for the Sports Illustrated All American is chosen.
Sports Illustrated not only has a state-wise breakdown of the 1000 candidates in its watch list, but also has a breakdown by verbal commitments and top targets.
The SI director of recruiting, John Garcia Jr. has made some observations on the state wise talent availability. The quarterback talent from Texas, as per him, is very promising and there are 17 QBs from the state in the watch list. The verbal commitments such as Garrett Nussmeir going to LSU, Demetrius Davis to Auburn, Jalen Milroe to Texas, Eli Stowers to Texas A&M etc. show the level of talent. Georgia has surged ahead of California as far as the volume of talent availability is concerned. They have an added advantage of superior physique. North Carolina has entered the top five of the talent-producing states with a focus on University of North Carolina, where most of the talent is concentrated.
D.C, Maryland and Virginia, collectively known as DMV, has become another top resource for talent, as the three states together have 70 candidates in the SIAA watch list. Florida has been known for producing skill position players, particularly receivers, and this time also there is no exception. Alabama is also expected to live up to its reputation of producing quality players on the defensive side. The players that stand out are prospects like Tennessee verbal commit Dylan Brookes (DE, Roanoke/Handey High) and uncommitted ones such as, Ga’Quincy McKinstry (CB, Pinson/Pinson Valley High) and Jeremiah Williams (LB/DE, Birmingham/Ramsay High)
California has always been producing a great amount of quality football talents. The point to note is that five of the top rated players from the state are not yet committed, such as, Korey Foreman, Ethan Calvert, Ceyair Wright, Jonathan Flowe and Brock Bowers remain uncommitted. However, the country’s two best QBs are verbally committed to the USC. In addition three of the most sought after players, Ethan Calvert, Jonathan Flowe, and Block Bowers all have plans to commit to USC. Michigan has been producing great talents on a national level. However, there is whisper that some of the best ones may be leaving the state.
SI has revealed that the 10 states topping the watch list 2020 of SIAA are as follows:
North Carolina: 55
SI has, as scheduled, revealed its No.1- ranked overall prospect in the class of 2021 and it is none other than Caleb Williams, the Washington (D.C) Gonzaga star quarterback. July has been a very special month for Williams. He won the prestigious Elite 11 Finals quarterback competition on July 1, and Jul 4 saw him making the college commitment to Oklahoma University. In July SI will also reveal the first quarterbacks of its positional top 10 lists and will announce its Pre-season Top 99 on 24th August.
The evaluation is a long drawn process and will continue till December. There are three stages of the evaluation. The first stage will contain 250 candidates and will be announced in October. The next stage of evaluation will see 99 candidates who will contend for the final round and will be announced in November. The elite 25 Sports Illustrated All-Americans will be felicitated in the Sportsperson of the Year banquet of SI in December.