Thousands of student athletes are getting shut out of college sports due to the pandemic

COVID does a number on college recruiting

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Euclid High School senior, Jaylen Morris is one in a massive backlog of student athletes who may lose out on playing college sports, on scholarship money or even going to college at all because existing college athletes were offered extended eligibility when seasons were cancelled or shortened due to the pandemic.

“They can’t give out roster spots because they have seniors coming back from last year,” he said.

Morris aspires to play college football. But it’s not just a dream, it’s a necessity if wants to go to college.

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He’s a talented kid with a good highlight reel, but no offers on the table.

“I was wondering at first…he’s a really great kid, his film is great. Why isn’t he getting any calls?” his mother, Alaijah Morris wondered.

Steven Schrum oversees the evaluation and recruiting process for the Kent State University football program. He says it’s been nothing short of crazy trying to navigate this.

“Now a lot of kids are going to have an extra year where they’ll be able to get masters degrees or PhD’s. That’s beneficial for them. From a roster management standpoint it is a circus. It’s best way I can describe it. There’s a lot of kids expected to leave that are coming back,” he said.

Twelve KSU seniors are expected to return for another year.

The Golden Flashes can’t offer any more than their allotted 85 scholarships, and can’t sign more than 25 new players, per usual.

“There’s going to be a lot of kids that should be playing FBS football that are going to fall through the cracks more so than ever,” Schrum said.

High school students have players on the existing college roster to compete with, plus a transfer portal that’s flooded with double the students in it, now that athletes no longer have to sit out a year.

“I find myself scrambling for the best option for him. Ultimately we’re talking about college. That’s money. Somebody has to pay for it,” Mrs. Morris said.

Jaylen’s mom has reached out to former coaches, signed him up for personal training and access to the NCAA recruiting site, at significant personal expense, all in an effort to try and get him an edge.

“None of it can get you past this hurdle,” she said.

With full and partial scholarships few and far between, they’re exploring a gap year, junior colleges and prep schools. But even those slots are harder to come by and expensive.

Morris said they can’t afford to send Jaylen to college if he doesn’t get a scholarship.

“I think this has opened up a lot of people’s eyes that there’s a lot of things that you can’t control,” said Schrum.

But the Morris’ are fighting off feelings of frustration.

“This year, we’ve watched his dream slip away. So many things outside of our control and we just can’t…there’s nothing you can do about it and you almost get to a feeling of despair,” Morris said.

“I’ve been working my tail off. I’m just as good as everybody else. But it’s hard,” the Euclid senior said.

Schrum says the best resource for parents is their child’s high school coach. He says they’re the best person to provide an honest assessment and best advice possible when making these tough decisions.

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