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 I-A) scholarships, 12 prospects have already had their offer rescinded by a college or reneged on their original commitment.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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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
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