DJ Uiagalelei: Life Under the Microscope

I’m guessing, being a five-star recruit, especially a quarterback, many opportunities exist, and many doors seemingly open up as the player approaches college. Let’s just say, they’re treated special and deservedly so. Each has worked hard, honed their craft, and begin to dream of all that lay ahead.

Unfortunately, for some of these young men, it can be difficult, almost impossible to meet the expectations assumed by others. It’s as if they can’t find that mojo they possessed in high school and doors that once flew open, now just as quickly close.

It’s tough to face hard times when you’re young. I’d imagine in many ways, you feel as if your once invincibility in the sport has gone wrong, very wrong, like your prowess in the sport has betrayed you. You become frustrated, left to ask, ‘what is happening to me?’ Then enter the microscope.

Imagine if you will, being DJ Uiagalelei. Haunted by the memories of being the best, feeling the world’s adoration and knowing there were no limitations on your future greatness. Oh how that has to be crippling for anyone. Add to that, the public scrutiny, the loss of confidence by the ones that once touted you. In what seems like an instant, everything, every move, every snap is critiqued, and oftentimes criticized.

Some of the more vocal fans have a short memory, a cynical slant on anything and anyone that has dared to falter and fall. There are many questions as to why Uaigalelei in no way resembles that young freshmen that brought the Tigers back to defeat Boston College. Then, that unbelievable game in South Bend against Notre Dame.

He put up offensive numbers that night that shattered the previous record for the number of passing yards by an opponent in South Bend. Like most, I think of what could have been and hopefully, what still might be. While many are left to scratch their heads and disparage this young man, by calling him names, they fail to put themselves in his shoes.

This is his nightmare, and those that place his every move under microscopic scrutiny are making it worse. Saturday was just a continuation of last year. Uiagalelei couldn’t do enough to quiet the constant noise. Only by going undefeated and winning another national championship, the quarterback has little left he can do to cross over the bridges that have been burned by a few loud, shortsighted fans.

Instead of being freed from the constant scrutiny, the pressure this young man faces by having a near-perfect spring game, he didn’t. That just wasn’t in the cards. Mostly due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, he is still living under the microscope. It must be a terribly painful and frustrating way to live.

Maybe people will lay off some between now and fall camp. Let him work on the areas that need improving and see what happens. It’s a long time between now and September.

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