The Prospector: Offers to 8th graders, like LSU to Tyreke Johnson, will become norm

For now he's enjoying the ride and can't wait for the time when he's the star of his varsity team. Right now he's waiting for the likes of junior teammates WR Kevin Toliver II and LB Jeffery Holland to do their thing. Toliver is already committed to LSU. Earl Johnson said it's Tyreke's exposure to that competition on his own team will only make his son a better player in the long run.

"He's able to get varsity training rather than maybe middle school of JV," Earl Johnson said. "He's got the best coaches and that's benefited him. ... and then Toliver and Holland and Isaiah Ford, those guys, the whole team, is very family-oriented and they look at Tyreke like a little brother. They try to share what they have with him."

It may not be the greatest thing to have to share the limelight with an eighth grader, and Tyreke has certainly gotten his share of attention although the most productive Trinity players have been those aforementioned.

Tyreke's last-minute interception in the blowout victory over Victory Christian in the state final, in fact, was the display image in the Florida Times Union sports section the next day.

"They handle it as well as anybody would expect, I guess," Earl Johnson said of Tyreke's teammates. "I think they might handle it better than a lot of other schools because the school has always had young phenoms like Jalen Buie (2016 running back committed to Auburn) or Nick Washington (Florida freshman safety). It's just something they expect and they embrace and they just deal with it.

"They have a great coaching staff over there and they know how to teach them to embrace it. They're pretty good with dealing with the kids."

Earl also said Tuesday that Georgia is on the verge of offering. It won't be long before the whole SEC is on board. Then schools will move on to the next phenom. It's a circle that doesn't have to be vicious if the right guidance is in place.

That circle, however, can easily digress into looping figure eights if care is not taken. Tyreke Johnson and Dylan Moses are models of the way things can work in a positive manner.

Many youngsters are not so forutnate. When greedy parents and greedier handlers start to hold out their hands, that's when the problem develops into a crisis. Those are the situations we fear.

The immaturity of the child is not always the immaturity that should be questioned. Kids probably handle these things better than many parents, who taint the process with their misguided delusions.

Should colleges offer scholarships to eighth graders? No. It's just common sense.

Should parents tell coaches wanting to offer verbal invitations for a free education to go away? No. Somehow, that too is common sense.

I think.

  

Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at chays@tribune.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting, Instagram at os_recruiting and on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.

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