USC offers fetus (we're joking ... hopefully)

Regrettably, there is no too young in recruiting. Not anymore.

USC coach Lane Kiffin apparently has offered receiver Nathan Tilford (Upland, Calif./Upland) a scholarship.

Tilford has yet to play a down of high school football, which makes this a next-to-irrelevant gesture.

Tilford -- class of 2017! -- is apparently impressive for his age. He's 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. But a lot can happen in four years.

As someone heading into his 17th year covering college football, my advice to other parents of impressive eighth-graders who find themselves in a similar situation is to say, "No thank you."

As in, "No, we don't want this sort of attention and publicity because there's nothing positive about it."

As in, "No, we don't want a scholarship offer that hasn't been earned and means nothing. We're smart enough to know that if Junior isn't elite as a senior, you won't honor this offer."

As in, "No, we don't want to opt into the recruiting machine just yet."

As in, "No, we don't want to put undue pressure on our son as an eighth-grader."

As in, "No, we don't want to make him a target -- and potentially a punch line -- for the next four years."

As in, "No thanks. And our 'no thanks' today will have zero negative effects on our potential for scholarship offers down the road."

Of course, maybe I'm just an old fussbudget. Maybe this is the new normal.

As Blair Angulo observed:

Tilford isn't the first player in his class to receive an offer -- Dylan Moses (Baton Rouge, La./University Lab) already has offers from Alabama, LSU, Texas and others -- but it is the first time USC has gone into the 2017 class.

Perhaps it's worthwhile for athlete and school to get their meat hooks into each other as early as possible.

After all, this is the United States of America, where any publicity is good publicity.

But it makes me feel yucky.