Mark Knudson’s Three Strikes Blog: Strike Three
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STRIKE THREE: Remember the 1992 movie “White Men Can’t Jump?” How about a sequel: “White receivers can’t get college scholarships.”
We’ve made significant progress against the Neanderthal notion that African-American football players don’t make good NFL quarterbacks. That old racial bias has thankfully pretty much gone by the boards. For decades, college football has been far ahead of their professional counterparts in featuring talented and productive quarterbacks who aren’t white. But both levels are still operating to a large extend on the premise that white football players aren’t cut out to play running back or wide receiver.
Even after New England’s Julian Edelman was just named Super Bowl MVP (and we will leave the Edelman – PED’s discussion for another blog) there’s still a stigma attached to white guys being able to play the so-called “skill” positions.
It’s been going on for a long long time, and shows no sign of changing.
Think back to the 2011 NFL Draft. A pair of All-Big Ten running backs, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead were available to be drafted. They had similar college careers (Ball had a lot more touchdowns) and their measurables at the NFL Scouting Combine – including 40 yard dash times – were nearly identical. The Denver Broncos drafted Ball, who is African-American, in the second round with the 58th pick. The Cincinnati Bengals took Burkhead, who is white, in the sixth (#109.) Which one has/is having the best NFL career???
This unspoken bias really affects high school football players. Burkhead’s New England teammate Edelman didn’t get a chance to play major college football. He attended Kent State and ended up playing quarterback at the College of San Mateo before becoming a pro receiver. Two other white highly prominent NFL wideouts – Minnesota’s Adam Thielen (Minnesota State Mankato) and the Rams Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington) – were each forced to play at smaller schools even though their NFL skill sets said otherwise.
Closer to home, Boulder Fairview wide receiver Matt Greenwald is feeling the sting of being a white guy playing “out of position.” The favorite target of highly touted Knights QB Aidan Atkinson, Greenwald most certainly possess Division IA receiving skills. (Check him out right here: http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/matt-greenwald/3aBUiOX8EeW-8KA2nzwbTA/default.htm) At 6’1” and 185 (and still growing) he’s got the size, and 4.6 speed too. Numerous Division I recruiters watched and admired the kid. One SEC assistant coach even said he’d love to have him, but “couldn’t sell it” to the program’s head coach. A CSU assistant who watched Greenwald said “he loved” the kid but could not give him a scholarship. CSU invited Greenwald to come to Fort Collins as a preferred walk on. So did Wyoming. (CU didn’t offer the home town kid anything.)
Greenwald turned down offers from UNC and Western Illinois, saying he wanted to “bet on himself.” He’ll walk on at Boise State.
Time will tell is the four wide receivers (including one Juco transfer) that CSU signed in this recruiting class (the three high schools signees are all smaller than Greenwald) will turn out to be more productive in the Mountain West than the local product whose only major flaw is his complexion.
Disagree? Want to argue? Reach me on Twitter @MarkKnudson41…