A one-time high school football star who ignited a spirited debate over “what commitment means” in the recruiting process by Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has quit college football.
Dontae Aycock decided to give up football at South Florida, with the St. Petersburg Times’ Greg Auman reporting that Aycock “had strugled with his weight this summer, [USF coach Skip] Holtz said, and wasn’t sure his heart was in playing football.”
Back in 2009, Aycock was one of Florida’s top QB prospects — and a “secret commitment” to Georgia Tech about two weeks before signing day. Then everything changed when Auburn made a last-minute offer. Aycock acknowledged and admitted he was warned by Georgia Tech’s Johnson that his scholarship offer would be jeopardized if he took an official visit to Auburn that late in the recruiting process, and he did it anyways. Aycock said Georgia Tech revoked his scholarship for making the trip. Aycock ended up signing with Auburn as a RB, and was dismissed by the SEC school after one season because of an undisclosed violation of team rules.
The circumstances surrounding Aycock’s rocky recruiting finish ignited a hot-button issue over “what commitment means” with Johnson saying this in 2009:
“We tell kids all the time in our office ‘Look around and make sure this is what you want to do,’” Johnson said. “I am not trying to keep kids from looking around. I think they need to look around. But when you decide and commit, then you’re giving people your word that you’re coming. It’s not a game. It’s not ‘Ok, I’ll take this one unless I can find something better. Or let me lock this down there so I can shop around for some other spots.’ If you’re doing that, you’re not committing.”
“Why don’t you say this school is leading? Or this school is way out in front? It’s the same thing with Dontae. Had Dontae not committed, we would’ve continued to recruit him probably up to a point where we would’ve said something like ‘Hey we’ve got to know something or we have to move on.’”
“There’s this fallacy out there that everybody is going to take five visits and decide on signing day. We know that’s not going to happen. That’s all it is. Commitment to me means if they tell me they are coming, then I expect that they are coming. If they tell you you’re coming, then why are they taking more visits?”
“I view anybody that’s still visiting [other] schools as not committed. That’s just me. That’s just the way I do it. Well, people say ‘That’s a double standard because you let other kids visit [Tech] who are committed [to other schools]. That’s not my problem. Maybe it’s a soft commitment. There may be a [college] coach somewhere else saying ‘Give me a soft commitment and go ahead take your visits.’”
“We recruited Dontae for a whole year. Nobody twisted his arm and made him commit to Georgia Tech. I didn’t say ‘If you leave here, I’m moving on or anything. He [Aycock] came to me on [the Sunday during his official visit to Tech], and said ‘Coach, this is what I want to do. I’m coming [to Tech].’ I said ‘Are you sure? He said ‘Yeah, I told my [high school] coach yesterday. I called him.’ I said ‘Is he good with you doing this?’ Yeah he’s good with it. ‘You know this means no more visits? Recruiting is over?’ He said ‘I know coach, but I want to keep it quiet.’
“That’s not right either. If the whole story was told, Dontae would tell you that I made him call Lousville and tell them that he wasn’t coming. I told him that’s only fair to Louisville. He went [the following day] and did that. There was a lot more to it. Then he got some bad advice. And maybe not. Maybe he wanted to go to Auburn anyways. That’s what I took it as. If he wanted to visit Auburn, then he wanted to go there.”
Also in 2009, we gave UGA coach Mark Richt the opportunity to explain “what commitment means.
“When we offer a kid, we don’t ever want to renege that offer,” Richt said. “If we offer a QB, and we’ve assigned one scholarship to that position, and we offer five or six, we tell each one of them that ‘We’re looking to sign one.’ When one gets committed, and we trust that he’s solid, then we let everybody know we’re full. I don’t really look at that as reneging an offer. I think everybody offered has the chance to take that one. It one of those ‘whomever takes it first, gets it’ type of things.”
“That’s why I tell our coaches ‘Don’t be quick to offer. If you offer him, and he commits, he’s ours. We’re not backing off that. So, at times, we probably offer a little bit slower, in some cases, than other schools.”
“You hope that a young man is going to stand firm with his commitment. The [prospects] are going through all kinds of pressures. And there are a lot of other people besides these young men that get involved, and it can get crazy and confusing.”
“When I talk to a young man, I’m not one to press a kid really really hard to commit. Because if he does, and I pushed him into it, then they usually walk out the door saying ‘Man, I don’t know if I should’ve done that or not.’ Automatically, they walk out the door with some kind of doubt. Our style is more to lay it out there, and say ‘If you want to [commit], that’s fantastic. We want your heart, we want you to be serious about it. And if you don’t want to decide today, then call me on your way home. Call me tomorrow, call me next week, call me when you’re ready.’ I’ve had [many] guys walk out of my office saying ‘I wish I would’ve committed instead of walking out.’ Then we’ll get a call from a kid on his ride home from an unofficial visit where it’s ‘Coach we want to come to Georgia.’”
“So, I think that’s part of it, too. You don’t try to squeeze the commitment out of him. If I can talk him into committing to me, then probably someone else [another college] can probably talk him into de-committing.”
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– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog Got a recruiting item? firstname.lastname@example.org
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