It is a subject that is hush-hush among college football coaches. It is the issue about why they don't recruit white athletes to play certain skill positions--running back, cornerback and wide receiver. Even the media often doesn't want to go down that road.
Wheaton North's Mike Trumpy was confronted by the stigma while he was scrutinizing the recruiting process and weighing all of his options before he opted to commit to Northwestern last week.
Trumpy has all the tools. He is a 6-0, 200-pound running back with 4.5 speed. As a junior, herushed for 1,664 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaged seven yards per carry in arguably the most competitive conference in the state and was named to the Sun-Times' 25-member All-Chicago Area team.
He has good bloodlines. His uncle, Bob Trumpy, played tight end at Illinois and Utah and was a two-time All-AFL and two-time Pro Bowl selection during a 10-year NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
He also is an outstanding athlete. He is one of the leading hurdlers in the state. He has been timed in 10.7 seconds for 100 meters and 14.28 seconds for the 110-meter high hurdles. Last February, at the Proviso West indoor meet, he was timed in 7.4 seconds in the 55-meter high hurdles to tie a record set by Olympian Greg Foster.
But Trumpy is white.
"In football, when you're talking about skilled players, there is a reverse prejudice that white players have to deal with," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports. "College coaches for the most part don't believe white kids can play tailback or cornerback. Trumpy has done a great job of proving he can play at the highest level."
During his recruiting, Trumpy received only three big-time offers--from Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Stanford.
Several big-time schools, including Illinois, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Alabama, Colorado, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Michigan and Ohio State, expressed interest. Some invited him to visit the campus, some wanted him to participate in a one-day camp, others requested film. But none of them offered a scholarship.
"It's old-school prejudice," Lemming said. "College coaches don't believe white tailbacks have running instincts to be big-time tailbacks. They don't believe white tailbacks and cornerbacks have natural instinctive moves or loose hips on offense or the ability to turn quickly and backpedal on defense.
"A lot of times over the 30 years I have been evaluating high school players I have mentioned a tailback I like who happens to be white and the college coaches won't even bother to see him. They don't get a chance to play in college. And how many white tailbacks and cornerbacks do you see in the NFL?"