THINGS THAT SURPRISED ME ABOUT PLAYING COLLEGE FOOTBALL
I was a walk-on wide receiver at UNC. I pretty much just rode the bench.
- •Football players aren't dumbEven the guys on the team who were failing all their classes REALLY understood football, which is a complicated game. They could memorize giant playbooks, read defenses, adjust assignments in a split second, and handle high strung coaches. They were clearly smart people, they just didn't focus much energy on school. Maybe it was because 70,000 people weren't watching them take their math test
- •Playing QB is impossibly hard37 Buster Nudge Naked Right Z Sting Y Spear is an example of a single play call - and a relatively straightforward one to be honest. Different pieces of the play tell each position what they need to do, so as a WR I could technically get away with just knowing my piece. But a QB has to know it all, then make adjustments based on the defense, then hike the ball and make the right decision. And if he makes the wrong decision just once in a 70 play game everyone will be talking about it all week
- •Catching the ball is only 1/3 of a receiver's jobA teammate of mine once said about me: "He had them sticky hands. But he was slow as hell." This is pretty accurate and explains why I didn't play much. Most people think a WR just needs to catch the ball, but in reality they need to do three things well: 1) Know what to do (see above re: play calls); 2) Be in the right place at the right time, which requires strength and speed I didn't have; and 3) Catch the ball. I could catch anything but that didn't really matter since I sucked at 1 and 2
- •Coaching is brutalCollege and NFL coaches work 100+ hours a week. It seems totally crazy and unbelievable and unnecessary, but it's true. They watch film and gameplan literally around the clock. I think they're scared of getting hit with the one play they didn't see coming that will cost them the game and their careers, so they'll watch as much film as humanly possible to prevent that from happening. This doesn't strike me as a great use of time, and it's a big reason I wouldn't want to coach at that level
- •It's a business, but it's also a familyCollege football is big business, there's no question about that. But most guys in the NFL will say that they miss the camaraderie of the college locker room, and most college coaches genuinely care about their players' success both on and off the field