De-committing: The “dark side” of college football recruiting (complete list)

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The dark side of recruiting is “de-committing,” or when a football prospect commits to a college and one or both sides decide later on to go separate ways. There are many reasons for this to happen. With the state of Georgia projected to have between 175-185 high school seniors to sign FBS (formerly NCAA Div. I-A) scholarships, 12 prospects have already had their offer rescinded by a college or reneged on their original commitment. We take a closer look at the dozen:

Imani Cross, RB, North Hall (undecided): Cross was the first commitment of Tennessee’s 2012 recruiting class, remained loyal to the Volunteers for nearly a year, and then began looking elsewhere last month after being encouraged by Derek Dooley, according to Cross’ father. “[Dooley said] they hired a new RB coach from South Carolina and don’t know if he’s a Scat guy or Spread guy, so they were re-evaluating backs and that Imani should look around at other schools.” Cross has official visits scheduled for East Carolina on Jan. 13 and Nebraska on Jan. 20, and may also travel to Virginia, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.

Ex-UGA WR recruit CJ Curry

Ex-UGA WR recruit CJ Curry

CJ Curry, WR, Flowery Branch (Oklahoma State): Curry was the first commitment for UGA’s 2012 recruiting class but flipped shortly after making an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State last summer. Said his father:  “After we started on our way back [from OSU], I asked him what he thought about it. He said ‘Dad, I loved it.’ Now he knows I’m a huge Mark Richt and Georgia fan. I told him ‘CJ, when it comes to choosing where you go to college, you’ve got to be a little selfish. You can’t go where your mom or I want you to go. It has to be what’s best for you.’ He said ‘Dad, in my gut, Oklahoma State is where I want to be.’ He just really liked the coaches and felt comfortable. They were really detailed about where they stand with him as a football player, as far as playing time as a freshman.”

Ex-Florida RB recruit Mike Davis

Ex-Florida RB recruit Mike Davis

Mike Davis, RB, Stephenson (undecided): Davis was pledged to the Florida Gators for nearly a year before abruptly de-committing last month. Why? Davis felt misled by Florida’s staff. He also was upset by the love the Gators showed for 5-star RB Keith Marshall, who picked UGA over Clemson, along with Florida and South Carolina. Said Davis: “Only one [Florida] coach was sent to my house [for an in-home visit]. But the next day, [when] you send a whole coaching staff to another running back’s house, then there’s something wrong.” Davis said he has already picked a new school but won’t reveal it yet. Some think it’s UGA. His finalists are UGA, South Carolina, Clemson, Florida State and Tennessee.

Khalid Henderson, LB, Pebblebrook (undecided): Henderson committed to Tennessee last summer, and thought things were going along smoothly until talking with Dooley a few weeks ago. “Coach Dooley said there is a ‘possibility’ you might not be coming to Tennessee. He said you have two options: ‘You can stay committed to us, wait it out and see what other players do. Or you can de-commit and try to get some attention from other schools but that doesn’t mean you can’t come to Tennessee’ or whatever. He was very iffy about everything. He wouldn’t say anything concrete. He kept on using that word ‘possibility’ … I thought it was a bunch of crap.” Henderson said he has an offer from Mississippi and heavy interest from UGA.

Nicholas Gibbons, OL, Stephenson (undecided): Gibbons had been committed to Memphis since last summer, but said he had his scholarship revoked after the college recently changed head coaches.

Tre Griffin, DE, North Cobb (undecided): Griffin was the first commitment for Vanderbilt’s 2012 recruiting class but said he had his offer rescinded in October after scoring a qualifying ACT score too late. “They said ‘Sorry, the slots are full.’ I had a bunch of emotions after hearing that. I was confused, a little upset, disappointed and almost embarrassed. I had been doing all these interviews, talking about how great Vanderbilt was and then they do that.” Griffin said he is hearing from Georgia Southern and UT-Chattanhooga, among others.

Ex-MTSU recruit Jarnor Jones

Ex-MTSU recruit Jarnor Jones

Jarnor Jones, FS, ML King (committed to NC State): The 6-4 Jones is a basketball player  who only became serious about football within the last year. Middle Tennessee State saw enough potential to both offer and accept his commitment last summer. However, other schools noticed Jones while scouting his teammates, and he flipped to NC State over Maryland and West Virginia around Thanksgiving.

TJ Moon, RB, Stephenson (undecided): Moon had been committed to Florida Atlantic since last summer, but said he had his scholarship revoked after the college recently changed head coaches.

Josh Parris, TE, Stephenson (committed to Syracuse): Parris switched from South Florida after he said USF coaches changed their mind months after he committed, saying he projected to play fullback rather than tight end.

Ex-Tennessee WR recruit Keithon Redding (AJC)

Ex-Tennessee WR recruit Keithon Redding

Keithon Redding, WR, Columbia (undecided): The speedster committed to Tennessee last summer, but the relationship soured after Tennessee WR coach Charlie Baggett stepped down – and Redding “never really heard from Tennessee after he left.” When Redding was finally contacted by another assistant, he was turned off by the Volunteers because they kept emphasizing the need for wide receivers from junior colleges. “I just didn’t have a good feeling about the situation anymore.” Redding has official visits scheduled with Mississippi on Jan. 20, and said he is working out dates for trips to Mississippi State and Kentucky.

Shadrach Thornton, RB, Liberty County (committed to Kentucky): Thornton might be the best running back in the state that nobody has really seen. He got off to a fast and furious start in recruiting by committing on his first official visit, which was to Kentucky. Thornton later said it was a “soft commitment” and vowed to finish his four recruiting trips. He was expected to choose between Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, but pulled a surprise by pledging to NC State. Said Thornton: “When I told NC State that Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt were my leaders, they refused to give up on me and move on. That showed how much they wanted me because I’m sure if I had told the same thing to Georgia Tech or Vanderbilt, they would’ve moved on to other players.”

Ex-USF DB recruit DJ White

Ex-USF DB recruit DJ White

DJ White, DB, Union Gove (committed to Georgia Tech): Once upon a time, White was perhaps South Florida’s most celebrated commitment, pledging to USF shortly after winning DB MVP honors at last April’s Nike prospect camp. He de-committed from South Florida last month because “the program seemed a little unstable, so I decided to step back and re-evaluate some things.” Shortly after opening things up, White made an official visit to Georgia Tech and committed on the spot.

Note: There is still time for more. With about a month away from national signing day, we expect to finish with at least 17-18 de-commitments for the state’s Class of 2012. Maybe more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT OVER THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND …

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

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112 comments Add your comment

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Dawg Squeeze

January 4th, 2012
8:31 am

Good for Curry and best wishes. He probably saved himself a football career (and a whole life) of mediocrity.

Dave from GT

January 4th, 2012
8:58 am

The NCAA needs to shut down this farm system for the NFL!

These guys should have to apply to universities through the normal process, selecting a school based upon what they want to accomplish in life (outside of football).

If they can’t make it in…. fine, let the NFL establish a “farm” program just like baseball.

Once these guys are focused and succeeding in a university, then let them tryout for the footall team (and a scholarship).

Treating these guys like prima donnas, elevating them above the general student population sends the wrong message….. and feeds the “college football as entertainment first” philosophy which as given us this perverted value system… that does very little to deliver a real benefit to society.

skybama

January 4th, 2012
9:19 am

Interesting that you would call it the “dark side” of recruiting – it is part of the process of 18 year old kids to change their minds and for coaches to adjust based on need. While I am not a fan of a coach backing out after taking a commitment from a kid, the reality of it is, if I was being paid what a coach is paid and had the pressures they have, I would make some of the same decisions if the opportunity to upgrade talent presented itself.

Also interesting is that you did not list the QB from Prattville (Thomas I think) that committed to Tech after decommitting from Alabama – it was news enough for you to run it for a couple of days and talk about the decision process but not enough for you to list him. BTW – I think the kid made the right choice for what he wanted – if he wants to play QB, then he should go to Tech. This is a good example of a kid make a decision, looking at the situation and adjusting his decision to what is right for him.

FL Jacket

January 4th, 2012
9:43 am

Dawgforlife…

Do you honestly believe you NEED an Education degree to teach? Or a Journalism degree to write?

The college of Management (yes…the M-train) is higher ranked than Terry, so there goes that false notion.

wreckmaniac

January 4th, 2012
10:07 am

Re: T Washington. I’m happy with Tev and with PJ’s offensive scheme. Tech needs work on defense and special teams. Its Wednesday and neither DRAD or PJ will tell us what they intend to do about this. Earth to DRAD: get it going.

RedandBlackDawg

January 4th, 2012
10:48 am

The early signing period or having two signing periods sounds good on the surface but a stumbling block remains. They can declare for the NFL up to Jan. 15th, and this makes recruiting a little more difficult, because the players are depending on getting an NFL evaluation and don’t know themselves whether they will play at their college, and don’t have to commit until one month before national signing day. It becomes hard for a coach to accurately gauge your needs when these guys are waiting on a NFL score to determine whether they will be back for another year. . I think it might work out a little better if you could have the last signing day, moved up a month, say until March 15th. Then if you wanted to have two signing dates. you could have one before NFL declaration and one after. The spring signers would have their time, the NFL would have it’s time and then the colleges could finish it up with the late signing date. Really, as long as the NFL is in the picture, college recruiting is really at their mercy.
Although I think it is a little disheartening for a recruits verbal to be taken away as a college coach, sees something different or decides to go in a different direction, it is also equally as hard on the coach when a kid commits verbally and then changes his mind. Maybe only seniors in high school should be able to make a verbal, since they change their minds so much.

jauk11

January 4th, 2012
12:08 pm

JMO but I think UT has been among the leaders in recruiting improprieties and irresponsible behavior. Not only did the eight (deleted) that ganged up on one man (twice) and kicked him while he was down avoid all serious charges (one local man charged with attemped murder for same offense, and the victim didn’t go to the hospital) but they didn’t even miss any serious action, maybe one or two the 52-0 romp over Tennessee directional. The five star that the NCAA didn’t ever get wind of his “problems” after missing a semester and then being kicked out, the 4* DE charged with assault for hitting a dancer from behind, the recruit that got the $1500 plane ticket from Texas (is that still Pending?), the Orange Pride operations that the NCAA curtailed (LOL), what do you expect from Dooley at UT?

I think it is unrealistic for a recruit to turn down his dream school if they offer, and A FEW offers should be withdrawn. One example is the linebacker that Joker didn’t take a couple of years ago, when he saw him he turned out to be 15# and 2″ short of as advertised. I think this recruit got another scholarship with an SEC offer on his resume and would have been in a miserable situation for both him and the school if he had gone to UK. The coach that recruited him was fired, so it was a serious mismatch.

GET YOUR DEGREE!

January 4th, 2012
1:38 pm

Way too many of these high school football “stars” get caught up in the fantasy of ” I’m going to the ‘league’ ”
and part of the blame is squarely on the shoulders of the college recruiting coord & head coaches for perpetuating this “fantasy” by leading these kids to believe they’ll make it to “the league” if they sign with their university.

Simple math (I purposely skewed the #s to drive home the pt) to help hammer home the importance of getting that FREE diploma, available to any student-ATHLETE who signs a scholarship if they work for it.

There are around 2,000 players in the NFL (32 teams X 62.5 players/team). And these guys have more than 4 years of eligibility, if they are good enough.

There are around 8,000 players JUST IN Div 1A of college football (120 teams X 66.7 players/team)

That’s 1/4th or 25%, and we know my #s are skewed in FAVOR of the high school stars making it “to the league”

It’s a FREE education if you’re on a scholarship. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS GIFT!

Whew!

January 5th, 2012
7:56 pm

@GET YOUR DEGREE!: I appreciate your point. But, sadly a lot of these young men are in college as a delusional stepping stone to the league. College degree was not, and cannot be, the plan. Have you heard some of these young men speak???

Candy A. Westbrook

January 6th, 2012
11:31 am

Seriously? You’re shocked how coaches renege on scholarship offers? Even the patron saint Dooley’s son? Well, welcome to D-IA football, y’all! The Texas Two Step is the dance that coaches are required to master the moment the sign on as college coaches. And, the NCAA rulebook is already a mile thick with so many “rules” ti takes a team of lawyers to decode it all. Not a good idea. Here’s a thought; “play it straight even when everyone else isn’t.” Then again, I guess that’s just too much to ask.
Candy A. Westbrook
Author of “High heels, Cleats and Helmets… A Mama Takes-off Her Lipstick in College Football Recruiting” Release date to be announced.

Complete Recruit

January 9th, 2012
8:44 pm

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