While they’re not exactly the circumstances that you want your prized two-sport prospect to choose baseball under, it looks like a significant hurdle has been cleared in Anthony Alford’s march towards potential baseball stardom.
This, of course, is not necessarily good news.
The Hattiesburg American reported today that the Jays prospect, and freshman quarterback at Southern Miss, has been released from his scholarship by the school– doing so at the player’s request. Clearly it’s a decision reached in the wake of Alford’s recent arrest at the school, and the fact that he stands charged with hindering prosecution and conspiracy to possess weapon on campus, though there are also genuine athletic reasons, too.
The Golden Eagles just finished skulking through an 0-12 season. They’ve fired the head football coach who recruited Alford and have now hired of Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken to replace him, as well as the previous offensive philosophy.
The American‘s Stan Caldwell writes, in as informative piece on Alford’s situation as you’ll find, bluntly titled Alford should focus on baseball, that “even before the incident that landed him in jail, there were serious rumors that Alford was shopping his services, that he’d had enough of USM and was looking to transfer.”
With the hiring of Monken, it is likely those rumors will gain traction. If you’ve watched Oklahoma State play the past two seasons, where Monken was the offensive coordinator, you know he places a premium on quality play at quarterback.
And, let’s face it, Alford’s play as a freshman in the lost 0-12 season that was Southern Miss football in 2012 left an awful lot to be desired.
Fact is, anybody with an open mind who saw him play at Petal could see he really didn’t have the skill set to be a Division I quarterback, at least not in this modern age of spread offenses, which is what Monken says the Golden Eagles will run next fall.
Caldwell insists that Alford, who he saw as a high school player– one that was “effortless” on a baseball diamond– should be playing winter ball in Puerto Rico or Venezuela right now, trying to make up for the reps missed as the Jays let him “indulge his fantasy” in the NCAA.
I don’t know if he’d even be allowed to leave the country, given the charges pending, but Caldwell does calm our jangled nerves on the judicial angle somewhat, figuring that, if he “had to guess, I’d say the odds are pretty good that it will end up being pleaded down to a misdemeanor, Alford will do some community service at some point and the incident will go away.”
Alford would have to sit out a year if he were to transfer to another school to play football, so it makes all the more sense that he embrace his second sport. Trouble is, it’s not exactly like doing things that make sense is his strong suit– not the gun-related incident on campus, and not the choice to play football in the first place.
“The truth may hurt,” Caldwell explains, “but it says here that Alford will never make a living playing football, but if he concentrates on baseball, brings his prodigious talent to the diamond full-time and works hard, he’s got a chance to, not just make a living, but to be a star.”
Now’s the time. More indulgence of football and there may not be another.