When you’re one of the nation’s top college prospects involved in a high-stakes recruiting sweepstakes, the easy thing to do is picking a winner among several offers. The hard thing is informing the runners-up that you are going elsewhere.
Many elite prospects avoid this gut-wrenching aspect of recruiting altogether. Some will have their high school coaches deliver the bad news to the losing schools. Some will have their parents call. Some will send a quick text or email, or call the college and pray it goes directly to voice mail. Some won’t do anything, letting the runner-up schools find out at the signing ceremony with everyone else.
“That was very hard, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life,” said Orson Charles, who signed with Georgia over Southern Cal and Tennessee on Friday. “But I felt like I owed it to the other schools to call and let them know I wasn’t coming. They were good to me. They invested a lot of time and energy in me. I felt like it was the right thing to do.”
“These colleges, they are not recruiting your high school coach. They are not recruiting your parents. They are not recruiting your answering machine. No, they are the ones taking the time out to get to know you and recruit you. So you should be the one calling to them know what’s going on.”
Around 30 minutes before Orson Charles made his long-awaited decision, he began calling all three of the finalists. Charles refused to take the easy way out. Even more difficult, he asked to speak not to any assistants but rather the head coach of each school. There were plenty of uneasy moments.
Southern Cal’s Pete Carroll: “He was mad. He just thought I would have a better chance of playing on a winning team and for a national championship if I signed with USC. He also was upset that he went to a lot of trouble with [heralded quarterback prospect Matt Barkley] to get the No. 7 jersey. [Carroll] kept me on the phone for awhile.”
Georgia’s Mark Richt: “I joked with [Richt] and said I was going to sign with Southern Cal. There was this long pause. Then I said, ‘I’m just joking. I’m signing with Georgia.’ Coach Richt was happy. He was yelling and screaming. You could hear him clapping in the background.”