So you think the recruiting process is stressful for high school athletes?
Try being a parent.
Just ask Monique Jason, the mother of St. Augustine standout receiver Stanley Morgan. Shespent plenty of time with Google figuring it all out.
“I’d be up until 4 or 5 in the morning on the computer looking up stuff about all the schools,” she said. “I started losing weight, I was staying up so late. But you have to do what you have to do because you want your child to go somewhere and be comfortable.”
Morgan committed to Nebraska in November, just a few days after his mom’s birthday.
“It was the best birthday present I have had in my 41 years,” she said. “It was like a monkey was off my back. But the monkey will really be of my back when he signs.”
That’ll be Wednesday, also known as National Signing Day, when the recruits can make their decisions official.
And what a big decision it is.
“Other than marriage, this is the biggest decision these kids are ever going to make,” said Michelle Dale, whose son Hunter is a star defensive back at John Curtis. “This decision is going to affect him for the rest of his life.”
Dale says she has done “a lot of praying” during the process.
She got a chance to see some of the ugly sides of recruiting when her son committed, then decommitted from Nebraska.
There were fans on social media who expressed their displeasure.
“You have fans — adult fans — dogging kids,” Dale said. “Some of these kids may look like men, but they are still kids. Just teenagers.”
The process has been easier for some others.
Kendall Bussey, whose son of the same name plays running back at Newman, knew what to expect.
The elder Bussey, once a star at Archbishop Shaw (he was part of The Advocate’s Super Dozen in 1991), was highly recruited himself, so he knew what to expect.
“It’s very important that you find a college that fits your kid’s skill set,” Bussey advised. “Just because it’s Alabama or Michigan or Miami doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you. You can get yourself in a world of trouble basing your decision on that.”
Kendall Bussey Jr. committed to Tennessee after some careful evaluations of what type of college offense ran the scheme best suited for his style.
“Since his sophomore year, we started trying to gather in formation,” said the elder Bussey, who had a brief NFL career with the Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings.
But he knows that everyone isn’t as thorough in the research as he and his son were.
Some parents, simply put, just don’t know, so they rely on information provided by coaches whose livelihoods depends on landing the top recruits.
“When you look now, there are more transfers than ever,” Bussey said. “I think these coaches are promising these kids a lot more than what they should promise them. The only thing they should promise them is an equal opportunity to play football at a great institution. If you come in and work hard, everything else will play out.”
For Yashica Jackson, the tough part wasn’t getting the information. The tough part was dealing with the numerous coaches who were recruiting her son Donté Jackson, the Riverdale athlete considered by some to be the top prospect in Louisiana.
“I’m a talker, so I talk to everybody,” she said. “So I always felt like I was betraying them when I was talking to them and I know he wasn’t going there.”
Her son committed to LSU on Jan. 21.
Perhaps no one knows the process quite like April Justin.
Justin went through it twice. Her son, former Dutchtown two-way star Landon Collins signed with Alabama in 2012. Her other son, Gerald Willis of Karr, signed with Florida a year ago.
Justin hosts a summit called “Momma Knows Best,” something she started to educate parents about the recruiting process.
Her simple advice?
“Do your homework about each college. Make sure the program fits the kid’s skill of playing. Get ready to step up their game on and off the field. And stay focused.”
With signing day approaching, perhaps Dale summed it up best.
“You’re thankful for all the opportunities, but thank God it’s over.”