There are few things little kids get a chance to love when they’re only on the earth for a few years. All they know is family, a few friends, whatever kids shows are on these days, snack packs, and the hobbies they’re introduced to. For many, that first love is football.
At a young age, millions of kids across the nation dream about making it to the league. That dream dies quickly for some and continues for others, but usually, it takes a while to see your hard work pay off. That was until Division-I schools began offering college scholarships to kids who are 10.
Today, everyone is all about instant gratification. People despise waiting in traffic, sitting in line for an extra two minutes while their McDouble with cheese and premium chicken breast strips are reheated to the perfect temperature, or staring at their phone while they wait for the YouTube clip to load that they “swear is funny once you see it.”
Some of these are reasonable and some aren’t, but now, the age of instant gratification has somehow spilled into the world of sports.
This goes much further than people checking their Bleacher Report apps to find out which song LeBron James worked out to in his most recent video of him grimacing to the beat of the music. It has happened with teams themselves, specifically at the collegiate level, who believe they have seen enough out of some kids at the ripe age of 10 years old.
That kid right there rocking the Joker-colored hair is Maxwell “Bunchie” Young. He is currently in 5th grade at KIPP Scholar Academy in South Los Angeles. In the video, you can hear Bunchie explain how his hair is green because “he likes the color.” Since this video was posted last year, it has over a million views.
He changes his hair colors from time to time as he likes to stand out, but that’s not the only decision that has been presented to him. He’s received Division-I scholarships to play football at the University of Illinois, and an unnamed Pac-12 school.
You read that exactly right. There is a chance he hasn’t learned long division and still believes in Santa Clause. He’s also doing insane foot drills and doing 32-inch box jumps to practice his explosiveness. Can you remember what you were doing as a 10-year old? Probably collecting Pokemon cards, burying Capri Suns, and rocking a mushroom haircut while struggling to reach the rim shooting a basketball from 12 feet out.
That’s pretty much the polar opposite of what Bunchie is dealing with. The little man has over 14,000 Instagram followers and is posing for pictures looking like he’s about to be the best rookie you’ve never heard of in this year’s draft.
WANT 2 SAY HAPPY TUESDAY 2 ALL MY BROTHERS IN THIS FOOTBALL GAME LOVE ALL YALL MUCH. MAY GOD KEEP HIS LOVING ARMS AROUND U AND KEEP YOU SAFE OUT THERE ON THE FIELD.2 MY BIG BROTHER DOPE PICTURE HAD 2 TAKE IT IM PRAYING HARD 4 YOUR STRENGTH. TRUST ME GOD IS WALKING RIGHT BESIDE U ON THIS JOURNEY YOUR ON GOD BLESS U .2 MY HOMELESS BROTHERS AND SISTERS OUT THERE HOLD ON GOD WILL MAKE A WAY MY FAMILY IN JUVI FOSTER CARE CANCER DIABETES. LOVE YALL SO MUCH FAMILY LET STAY PRAYED UP IN JESUS MIGHTY MIGHTY NAME I PRAY AMEN BUNCIE
This guy has scriptures written on his arm and wearing ropes around his neck like a prizefighter. There are still some 10-year-olds who wear velcro sneakers because they don’t know how to tie their shoes.
Just by watching his highlight video, you can tell he’s talented. In the immortal words of Unger from the Adam Sandler version of The Longest Yard, “He’s so fast, he makes fast people look not fast.”
We have now gotten to the point where we have to argue whether he’s just that good even though he can’t see a PG-13 movie for another three years, or if he’s just running by everyone because they are also 10-year-old kids.
If you don’t think that’s an incredibly unreal dilemma to be facing, you haven’t grasped the irregular situation we are dealing with here.
What might even be more incredible is the fact that this isn’t an isolated incident. Bunchie isn’t just the only kid dealing with national attention. He isn’t even the youngest. Introducing yet another former Division-I athlete who probably can’t cross the street without holding someone’s hand, Havon Finney Jr.
Young man is untouchable 🔥🔥
via: havonfinneyjr/IG pic.twitter.com/uPgM5jM4Yq
— Whistle Sports (@WhistleSports) February 11, 2017
Finney is out here making Bunchie look like an old man.
He hasn’t even been alive a decade and he’s already on college radars. He’s another child star who has 22,000 Instagram followers and is expected to do big things before he’s even hit his 10th birthday.
Yes, he may make defenders look like they’re wearing sneakers on an iced-over pond, but let’s not forget the movie Ratatouille is older than him. That rat chef has more years on this earth than he does, yet he received a scholarship to Nevada.
It may be a huge honor to believe a school sees that much promise in you at such a young age and it may get certain kids opportunities to go to college, but it’s still an incredible amount of pressure to put on someone that young.
Fame, fortune, and playing at the highest level are highly thought of, but there’s something about living life like a normal kid that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s hard to act like a normal kid when you’re being featured on ESPN already.
Bunchie Young is 10 & has two FBS scholarship offers. He's not the only elementary school kid in LA being recruitedhttps://t.co/5q36R4IEw4
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) October 24, 2017
Bunchie and Finney Jr. aren’t the only kids that are going through this type of rigorous preparation for a future in football. Mike Evans, the trainer of both of these young athletes and owner of LacedFacts Training in Norwalk, CA, is building some sort of army of miniature athletes that look like they’re being programmed to take down Division-I competition and possibly a third world country if need be.
With 150 “youth athletes” under his wing, Evans is putting these kids in a position to get noticed as soon as possible. Apparently, he was slacking with both Bunchie and Finnery Jr, as six-year-old Kaleb Herndon is already getting some notice.
This is the worst one, the creme de la creepy for Division-I schools. Teams aren’t just looking at Herndon because he’s tearing it up. He’s getting special attention because he already looks like he’s nine, and has parents that are 6’1 and 6’7 according to Evans. We have actually gotten to a point where schools are looking at the height of their parents to judge whether or not players will live up to their potential.
Right now, these offers do nothing for these kids. Sure, it gives them attention and gets their name out there in a world where viral attention has real value, but this offer is truly meaningless.
It’s an NCAA rule that you can’t sign a national letter of intent until your senior year in high school. As the oldest of the three, that means Bunchie can’t officially commit for another seven years. All this does is raise expectations for kids who may or may not be as good as their highlight tape hypes them up to be.
Even if Bunchie, Finney Jr. or Herndon actually make it, this would make things worse from here on out. Putting faith in the talents of kids is unfair, and will ruin the process of football as we know it.
If Division-I schools don’t stop, sooner or later we’re going to have college scouts at pee-wee practices, trying to talk to five-year-olds about their future over some orange slices their mom packed for them.