High school football coaches worry about unintended consequences of exposure based on 7-on-7

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By: Joey Lamar | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
May 11, 2020

Source: MGN

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- With the emergence of 7-on-7 football as a recruiting tool for high school athletes, there appears to be some unintended consequences that may take place when kids from different schools play on the same team.

Both parties want kids to receive maximum exposure. The problem is unexpected recruiting could take place.

"Let's just say Chiles had a 7-on-7, and we recruited the entire panhandle," Chiles head football coach Kevin Pettis said. "Well, then a kid leaves his school to come play at our 7-on-7. Even though it's not run by me, it's run by somebody that I've appointed or something like that. When these kids go from there and they transfer schools, by rule, it should be improper contact."

Along with recruiting, Pettis believes 7-on-7 makes athletes choose between playing spring sports and 7-on-7.

"From an AD stand point," Pettis continued, "I can see where it takes away from high school athletics, but I think they have a place, absolutely."

The third issue is unlike your traditional fall football, which is governed by the FHSAA, 7-on-7 is not regulated by any state body.

"We're like the wild, wild west," Pettis said. "The further south you go, the worse it is."

College coaches are not allowed at 7-on-7 tournaments, but sports writers attend and rank kids based off performance and the coaches see the rankings.

"It's not real football," Pettis said. "I think there's a place for it. It can benefit a kid."

Harrison Smith runs a 7-on-7 program in Tallahassee.

He says working with the high school coaches has been great, but he has heard criticism.

"It doesn't help kids," Smith said. "It's a sport played without pads. Some guys feel like it's a waste of time with having guys play that. The misconception is that it's not helpful and to me that's the wrong interpretation."

Smith says 7-on-7 is to prepare kids for drills they will see on college visits.

"The kids that play 7-on-7, when they get back to the high school, if they're not better, I would say whoever they are with needs to re-evaluate what they are doing," Smith said.

Harrison said 7-on-7 is here to stay. He thinks the sport will grow to the level of AAU basketball in the next 10 years.