At Issue: Coaches pleased to see return of EA Sports College Football 25

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, Colorado wide receiver/defensive back Travis Hunter and Michigan running back Donovan Edwards are on the cover of EA Sports College Football 25. (Courtesy EA Sports/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, Colorado wide receiver/defensive back Travis Hunter and Michigan running back Donovan Edwards are on the cover of EA Sports College Football 25. (Courtesy EA Sports/TNS)

Now that high school and college players are allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness, there could be a new distraction for Georgia high school football players in the near future.

After an 11-year hiatus, Xbox, PlayStation and PC on July 19 will release EA Sports College Football 25, which will feature likenesses of players who recently have graduated from Georgia high schools. These players might be former teammates, opponents or good friends of the current high school football players.

Travis Hunter, who led Collins Hill to a state championship in 2021, is one of the cover athletes in the coming release.

The Madden video-game series always has been a big thing, but it seems distant, sometimes unrelatable, for high school-age athletes. The college video game, however, could be the next step for a large portion of players around the state.

What could be viewed as a major distraction for coaches who are trying to keep players focused on football during summer practices, however, is being viewed with the exact opposite tone.

While competing at the Brent Key/Corky Kell + Dave Hunter 7-on-7 tournament at Georgia Tech, three coaches were asked to consider this question: “Do you think the upcoming EA Sports College Football 25 video game will be a problem and/or distraction?”

-Tim Hardy has spent 13 seasons coaching Greater Atlanta Christian and said the game will keep kids involved with football. His son, Will Hardy, is a rising sophomore at North Carolina and will be featured in the game.

-Darius Smiley is entering his second season at Sandy Creek. He remembers spending time playing the earlier versions of the game throughout high school and college. He’s glad it is returning.

-Newton assistant coach Kyle Baker said there could be worse things his players could focus time or energy on.

Here’s more from each coach. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Tim Hardy, Greater Atlanta Christian

“I think it’s great. I have a son at the University of North Carolina, and he is going to be in the game. That’s awesome. We are all excited about it. If you’re at home playing NCAA 25, you’re playing football. It’s fantastic.

“Now, if they’re in Dynasty Mode at 3 a.m. Thursday night during the season, that’s another deal. And just as a fan, I am excited.

“Sometimes with high school coaches, you really educate kids on the game. And if they are spending their time on TikTok or Snapchat, they aren’t really focused on the game. But now, here’s a game in an interactive video format, and sure, they play Madden, but pouring some time into a college football video game can, I think, only help the high school game. My second son is at North Carolina and is fired up and excited … the fact that it’s actual people. Now you can’t turn on TV on a Saturday and see someone you’ve covered or coached or played with or against in the game. So it’s great.”

Darius Smiley, Sandy Creek

“Kids are always going to be kids. They are going to play the game, and I would rather them do that than do something negative. But as far as coming to practice well-rested, we don’t have that problem at Sandy Creek.

“They’re excited to play with, or as, some of their old teammates. Shoot, I am excited. I used to play the game when I was coming up in college. We used to play at Nebraska back then, and I would have a blast. I don’t think it was a distraction for us.

“When most athletes go to college, video games are your best friend. All you do is work, school and then in your down-time, instead of doing this or that, I’d just play a video game to pass the time. So I am excited for it and excited for my guys to have the chance to see some familiar faces in the game.”

Kyle Baker, Newton assistant

“I look at it as a way for kids to stay around football. Playing the game, you see different schemes and things of that sort, so I think that’s beneficial. I always tell our guys, you can learn from schematics and looking at plays and play-calls, but with the game, it allows them to see. If we are trying to teach a Cover 2, you can visualize it.

“I don’t look at it as a bad thing. But I think it could be bad if you are staying up late at night then that’s not OK. But other than that, I think it’s very beneficial, and I am glad it’s coming back.

“I am pretty sure my guys will try to go play with or against the guys they played with or against, and that’s the neat thing about it with the way technology and things have changed – from how it used to be to now with real players and names and all.

“At the end of the day, I want our kids to be kids. They really only get the opportunity once, and so if there’s something they are excited about, be excited about it.”