The big event in my life the summer before my senior year at Shades Valley High School came when I gave my girlfriend my class ring, signifying we were going steady. I thought surely I was in love forever.
Senior Editor Phillip Marshall
The closest thing I'd ever had to an interview was talking to the sports editor of the Birmingham News about being a copy boy. Of course, he was my dad.
Earlier that year, Auburn had landed two of the bigger recruits in the country - quarterback Pat Sullivan from John Carroll High School in Birmingham and wide receiver Terry Beasley from Lee High School in Montgomery. There were no recruiting rankings, but everyone knew they were supposed to be something special.
How did they announce it? I don't remember. I suspect Pat called The Birmingham News and Terry called The Montgomery Advertiser. That's the way it was done in those days.
Now, 44 years later, anyone can watch recruits on television, read about them on sites like this one, follow them on Twitter, become their "friends" on Facebook, keep up with their height, weight and 40-yard dash times. They are celebrities before they take Senior English.
And for many of them, it's a challenge. It certainly would have been a challenge for me as a 17-year-old who almost couldn't get the right words out to my girlfriend because I was so scared.
Seventeen-year-olds don't always make the best decisions. They don't always think before they act. And, in this day of hyper media attention, words once spoken aloud or typed on Twitter can't be taken back.
I thought about that Friday morning when I read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story on Robert Nkemdiche, widely considered the nation's top prospect. He committed to Clemson a few weeks back. He said Friday morning that commitment would be solid only if Clemson offers a scholarship to one of his teammates.
If Nkemdiche had just asked someone older and wiser, he would surely have been told it made no sense to say that publicly and give the clear impression he was trying to put pressure on Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. He didn't ask - at least I assume he didn't - and now he has put Swinney in a bind. Does Swinney offer a scholarship to a player he doesn't want and give the impression that a high school kid is calling the shots?
Some prospects have lost scholarship offers because of words typed on Twitter. I have a feeling teen-agers sometimes forget when they sit down at their computers that they aren't just talking to their buddies.
Celebrity can be a dangerous thing, even for adults who can gain a feeling of entitlement. It's much more dangerous for high school kids who have been told for years how good they are and are now getting royal treatment from coaches they had only seen on television.
It only stands to reason that, as the popularity of college football has skyrocketed, so has interest in the recruitment of the young men who will play. Recruiting is college football's version of the NFL draft.
Under that spotlight, some prospects will say things they wish they'd never said, give impressions they wish they'd never given, change their minds multiple times. Some will live up to their reputations. Some won't. Some will go from unknown to All-America.
But for now, they are teen-agers. And like it or not, they will often act like it.