Despite early college commitments from area football stars, nothing's solid until they sign
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
by Jason Lieser
In the realm of college football recruiting, an early commitment is worth nothing more than a "maybe."
"Commit is a subjective term sometimes," Boca Raton coach Keith Byars said. "It doesn't mean anything until you sign."
That's why it does not necessarily mean much that the area's top 27 prospects already have committed. There are at least 35 local seniors committed to college football programs, but they are not locked in until they either enroll early or sign a national letter of intent.
The first day they can sign the letter of intent is Feb. 3, national signing day, which means there could be a lot of shifting over the next two weeks.
Seven of those early commits already have enrolled, which means they are subject to NCAA transfer rules if they want to leave, so those commitments appear to be secure.
The rest, though, are completely available. There have been nine confirmed de-commitments from BCS schools — including two by Dwyer's Matt Elam and Glades Central's Antwon Chisholm — and several more rumored.
"I don't think anybody's solid," said Treasure Coast linebacker Deon Rogers, a Georgia commit who is considering Louisville and Ohio State.
The area's No. 22 prospect, Palm Beach Lakes safety Johnnie Simon, committed to Western Michigan on Wednesday.
That means the top uncommitted senior is Fort Pierce Westwood receiver Leon Shorter, who led all big-school players with 780 receiving yards in 2009.
Shorter has an offer from Louisville, but is considering other options.
Other committed players believed to be open to other offers include Atlantic receiver James Louis (Ohio State), Glades Central safety Travis Bell (Marshall), American Heritage receiver Darius Millines (West Virginia) and Boca Raton quarterback Eddie Sullivan (Wake Forest).
Players endure a hailstorm of criticism from college coaches and fans for de-committing, but those likely are the same people who pressed them to commit early in the first place.
Elite recruits like Elam, Treasure Coast linebacker Jeff Luc and Pahokee receiver Chris Dunkley have the leverage to make schools wait. Bryce Brown, a running back from Kansas, was one of the country's most coveted seniors last year and waited all the way until mid-March to announce he was headed to Tennessee.
Players outside the upper echelon, though, are susceptible to all the ploys and sales pitches college coaches have been honing for years. Schools often say they have offered eight kids four spots and the first four who commit get the scholarships.
Thus, 17- and 18-year-old high school students are rushed into one of the biggest decisions of their young lives without some key information. Players often commit before taking their NCAA-allowed five official visits and the overwhelming majority commit before the annual hurricane of coaching changes hits in December and January.
"A kid's got to look out for himself," Seminole Ridge coach Matt Dickmann said. "With the way things are now, I don't blame him for committing early and then changing his mind."
No school has suffered more de-commitments in the area this year than West Virginia. The Mountaineers picked up several Palm Beach County players over the past few seasons, but Bell, Pahokee defensive tackle Richard Ash and Dwyer cornerback Robert Clark switched from West Virginia to other schools.
Marshall lured Bell from the Mountaineers after hiring ace recruiter Doc Holliday and former Glades Central player Jajuan Seider from West Virginia, but Bell could reverse course.
"I like both schools still," Bell said. "It's not signing day yet. I really don't know what I'm going to do."
Wake Forest has done well this year, too. The Demon Deacons got pledges from four of the top 21 recruits and two of them — Pahokee's Zachary Allen and Antonio Ford — enrolled this month.
Florida currently has commitments from three of the area's top four recruits and already has Elam, Clark and Dwyer tight end Gerald Christian on campus.
Florida State has three of the area's top 13 recruits and Miami has commitments from three of the top 35.