Birdow among state’s elite

Brad Gilbert -

Taven Birdow stands with Coach Reed at a recent tune-up camp.

One online service, has released its top 75 player list in the state of Oklahoma. Altus Bulldog, Taven Birdow is ranked as the #3 running back and #15 overall player in Oklahoma.

Ranking high school athletes in anything is not exactly an exact science. Most of the people doing the ranking are not exactly college or pro talent scouts. Most online services tend to use computer driven models using statistical data to rank individual players.

Ranking talent in anything is tough to do. Some players are listed as 3-star, 4-star or 5-star or blue chip and red chip. Some even get tagged as a can’t miss player or a project to be developed. Birdow’s current status is a 3-star running back. However, no one really knows anything about a player’s value until his/her production becomes valueable.

One of my favorite examples of scouts’ poor abilities to rank talent is the case of Tom Brady. Brady wasn’t even the full-time starter at Michigan before being selected by the New England Patriots in the 6th and final round of that year’s draft as the 199th pick. Basically Brady was an after thought. The Patriots like to brag now about how smart they were to pick him since he has carried the franchise to 5 super bowl victories and re-shaped the landscape of NFL power balance. Brady is the standard at the quarterback position and in the discussion as the best NFL quarterback ever. However, the Patriots passed on him in the five previous rounds of the draft.

No one really knows the value of a kid. How could you when only looking at the stats. Stats don’t talk to opponents and find out their opinion on how easy or tough it is to tackle a kid. Stats don’t know the work ethic a kid possesses. Stats don’t calculate body type and if a kid’s frame can carry more size. Stats don’t know if a kid is going to grow more or not. Stats don’t know a kid’s heart and if that heart is a heart of a champion. Stats don’t know if a kid is a good student, respectful to his elders and peers or if he/she has a good attitude. Stats are just stats.

Most media services wait for the first major service to rank players and then they all fall in line behind it as all the lists begin to look eerily similar. However, with Birdow being gone last year, there actually may be some discrepancies among the ranking lists. It is expected to see some variations in the lists but Birdow, ranked #15 overall in Oklahoma by and completely overlooked and unranked by other services begs the question. What are these scouts even looking at?

Let me guess….. Stats.

No matter the service or the position on a list, the Bulldogs and their growing bandwagon of faithful followers are in for some special times on Fall Friday nights in 2015. Those of us that have seen this flexbone offense know not to expect Birdow or any other ball carrier on the team to get the ball over and over 30 times a game. It isn’t built that way. Adrian Peterson wouldn’t get the ball 3o times a game in this offense. This is a team built offense. A team of runners will get their chances to move the ball. The team will benefit from the confusion of the defense and some of Birdow’s best plays may be the ones he doesn’t carry the ball. Finding fast, strong kids to carry the football over the goal line for all to celebrate, are easy to find.

Finding kids willing to sacrifice their bodies to block a charging, headhunting linebacker or to convincingly carry out a decoy fake so that his teammate can get the score and the glory is much more difficult to find.

The number one factor determining how a kid is ranked should be if he/she is a good teammate. There is no stat kept in that category.


Taven Birdow stands with Coach Reed at a recent tune-up camp. Birdow stands with Coach Reed at a recent tune-up camp.

Brad Gilbert

Reach Brad Gilbert @482-1221 ext. 2076


Reach Brad Gilbert @482-1221 ext. 2076


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