College football recruiting site Rivals.com is watching Tyson Thornton and Daron Bryden. Tyson, it said in a recent talent report, has "great explosiveness and surprisingly good body control for a kid his size and age," while Daron (who once beat NFL QB Matt Hasselbeck in an accuracy contest) has "a big arm [and] is incredibly composed and very polished." Sounds good—except the youngsters are sixth-graders and are being "actively" monitored in Rivals' database. The boys participated in a training camp for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders, Sporting News reports, and were "so impressive" they were promoted to play against eighth-graders. "It's tough to know whether tracking 11-year-olds is the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it or whether we'll all be remembering this golden moment when the two are playing in Super Bowl 70," Cindy Boren writes for the Washington Post.
AL.com notes some of the reasons there's been pushback, such as dangers to players whose peers suddenly grow much bigger, a kid not being able to live up to expectations when he's branded a wunderkind too early, and the difficulty of predicting how a youngster will evolve as a player. Bryden's dad doesn't have an issue with it, though, telling Bleacher Report "that is exactly why they call them prospects. … Rivals is merely identifying potential future talent. This is Daron's dream and he works extremely hard at it." But Ken Mastrole, a Florida coach who's worked with NFL QBs, tells AL.com that "you have to let the kid be a kid. The Jennifer Capriatis of the world are burnt out by 16 because parents are driving them into the ground." A youth football expert who's observed Daron on the field tells AL.com "he does have some ability," but notes he should be in seventh grade: He was reportedly held back for football.