I can't believe I'm writing you this letter. This was supposed to be one of the best weeks of your young life. But it has turned out to be anything but.
You should be in uniform for the Orange Bowl tomorrow night when your Southern California Trojans face Oklahoma in the BCS national championship game. The fact that coach Pete Carroll didn't allow you to travel with the team to South Florida because you reported to campus late following the Christmas holidays doesn't speak well of your future with the Trojans.
I know what you're going through. You're big, fast, strong and loaded with potential. You're used to getting your way. You're not used to people telling you no.
Carroll told you no. More than once. You barely got off the bench this season at wide receiver, so you offered to play tight end. Even then, quarterback Matt Leinart, the Heisman Trophy winner, rarely looked your way. You finished with only four catches.
Of course you took it personally because you had offers to attend Ohio State, Miami, Oklahoma and Florida. Especially when fellow freshman Dwayne Jarrett, your roommate, was a starter who led the top-ranked Trojans in touchdown catches.
Fred, I don't want to see you mess up. I want to see you reach your potential.
I know you haven't enjoyed your freshman year. I hope you have a better sophomore year. But that's entirely up to you.
You have some important decisions to make. First, you have to decide if USC is the best school for you to succeed as a football player and a student.
Second, you have to decide if you did everything within your power to make it work at USC. It's very important that you be totally honest with yourself and your family about what has transpired to this point.
Third, if you decide USC isn't the right school for you - and perhaps you and Carroll may have already reached that conclusion - then you must decide what your next step should be.
I'm beginning to think that you regret not attending school closer to Rogers High School. I'm beginning to think that if you had it to do over again, you would have chosen Ohio State.
Just know that transferring to another Division I-A school means having to sit out a year, and that there are no guarantees the next situation will be better.
I read last week that Carroll told reporters that this wasn't the first time you reported to the team late after visiting Toledo.
I wonder if one of the reasons Carroll didn't play you as much as you felt he should have is because Carroll has questions about your level of commitment. I wonder if Carroll's decisions have less to do with football and more to do with his comfort level.
Fred, you don't want to get on Carroll's bad side. He's a respected coach who's on the verge of winning back-to-back national championships. You should want to be a part of that, even if it means just soaking up the atmosphere on the sideline.
Do you realize how many players around the country would trade places with you?
I hope it isn't too late to patch up your relationship with USC. Carroll said he expects big things from you, that you need a little more time to develop. Listen to him. Your college years will pass sooner than you think. Next year could be your year.