Brandon Smith, a hopeful college football player from JUCO, who was going to join the Oregon State team, is not going to be able to do so now after being caught in suspicion of attempted murder.
Initially committing to the Beavers, the school has now stated that Smith did not sign with the team and will not be given an opportunity to join. His arrest followed shortly after he announced that he was set to join the team.
It seems he wasn’t alone either. Along with three other men, the group was arrested on charges of robbery, conspiracy and attempted murder following an event near a community pool which left a man severely hurt.
He had a positive trajectory, running for 1,231 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns with an average of 6.8 yards per carry at Santa Barbara City College and even grabbed the interest of schools such as Fresno State but did not receive attention or any scholarship offers while coming out of high school in Chicago.
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Oregon State was one of the few schools to give him an opportunity. Joining the Beavers, he would have had to compete with Deshaun Fenwick and Jam Griffin in order to gain some time at the running back position.
However, Damien Martinez is set to start as the running back where he has already had a successful season with 13 games under his belt starting five and amassing 982 rushing yards on 161 carries. He also managed to score seven touchdowns at an average of 6.1 yards per carry during his freshman year.
Brandon Smith was not the only one who had his career come to a halt for criminal behavior. He joined the rankings of athletes who have had their careers end or become uncertain as a result of poor choices off the field. One should always keep a realistic perspective when it comes to the already competitive nature of the college football recruiting process.
The situation that Smith finds himself in now could have been avoided if proper guidance and mentorship was provided. Many athletes come out of high school not receiving any attention, especially if they come from areas that are not considered hot beds for football talent.
The current system is flawed in the sense that young men are not given the support they need to navigate the competitive world of college football. This is where a gap in the education system could be filled.
Putting your head down and working hard is not enough to guarantee success especially when your circumstances are not working to your advantage. Whether it be a lack of resources or social mobility, young people who aspire to play college sports need to be provided with equal opportunities to succeed.
Young athletes who have seen their friends and family face incarceration due to lack of opportunities, broken homes, or lack of access to education would benefit from targeted forms of mentorship.
Guidance from mentors with experience in college athletics would not only give young athletes advice on how to handle the challenges that come with playing at a higher level, but may offer invaluable advice on how to steer clear of bad situations that could ruin their careers even before if started. Being a great athlete is not enough. Athletes who grow up in environments that expose them to the wrong side of life might need to be shown how to handle real life responsibility when they enter college as well.
During their formative years, young people who aspire to play college football should be offered resources and channels to communicate with mentors who are able to share advice during their journey. If not, they may be more susceptible to getting caught up in trouble and adverse situations and have their futures set off track.
While it is inspiring to see athletes like Damien Martinez who work hard and succeed, there is potential in providing the right mentorship to all young athletes to contribute to their success. Successful athletes like Damian Martinez are naturally able to accomplish their dreams due to inherent talent and strong work ethic. However, many others are turned off by limited opportunities and a lack of mentorship, even at an early age.
Becoming an athlete is a process, and it always helps to have the right support along the way. Young men like Brandon Smith who were initially on the path to success are not lost causes and should not be given up on. It takes the right amount of guidance to get there. Proper mentorship can help to get these athletes back on track and potentially contribute significantly to the sport.
It’s unfortunate that young athletes who are set to join teams like the Beavers have their careers prematurely ended. College football is a platform where athletes get to showcase their skills and potentially be selected to play at professional levels. Issues like these not only impact athletes involved but could also have an impact on the team he was set to join.
It’s in the best interest of the recruiting system to place a greater emphasis on mentorship programs and provide a platform that is designed for athlete success beyond their athletic careers. With increased focus on mentorship and career development, young athletes would be able to have a greater chance of reaching their full potential without running into trouble with the law.
Young athletes like Brandon Smith and many others need to be shown that they are more than their athleticism. Providing mentorship to aspiring athletes would be a worthwhile investment for universities. The payoff is not only in potential athletic achievement but also in the building of well-rounded young men who can then be of further benefit to communities and future generations.
We need more mentors who believe in the potential of young athletes like Brandon Smith, who can also teach them about the world and everything that comes with it. It’s not just about aspiring to be the best on the field. All athletes should strive to be intelligent, well-rounded and insightful along with their achievements in sports.
The increase of mentorship programs in college athletics will only bring benefits for the whole community. It will allow young men and women who need support to progress academically, athletically and be valuable characters in their respective communities. This is the kind of investment that is necessary to set young athletes up for success.
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