Column: Rich Rod should be more flexible
Arizona football hosted junior day last weekend and offered a handful of scholarships.
Reportedly, no players committed, but those that pledge early will play a vital role in securing a strong 2015 class.
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said getting early commits is part of encouraging more players to become Wildcats.
“When our [big time] guys committed, they were in,” Rodriguez said about two early commits, Cameron Denson and Trevor Wood, from the 2014 class. “And I think what happened was that they all talk to each other and they told their friends, ‘Hey, I’m committed and I’m in so why don’t you come join us?’”
But the third-year coach, who signed the 28th best class in the nation according to Rivals, doesn’t like when recruits aren’t solid commits.
“There have been guys who have been committed to us who visited somewhere else, and [we’ve said,] ‘Go ahead, you’re no longer committed to us,’” Rodriguez said at a press conference on National Signing Day. “That’s kind of the deal. I keep reminding the guys that it’s our scholarship that we hand out, not theirs. It’s not like lottery tickets; they have earned it but it’s still ours.”
Cornerback Naijiel Hale was a three-star recruit who tested the coach’s policy with an official visit to Washington and later paid the price when his scholarship was dropped.
Hale was obviously having second thoughts after committing last July, and in light of how often recruits switch, Rodriguez should allow the commit to visit other schools and assure his pledge.
Some of these 17- and 18-year-old kids are not mature enough to make their own decisions. They get a lot of advice before making the biggest decision of their life: to officially sign with a school.
Uncertainty hampered recruits on Signing Day and, to paraphrase Bill Cosby, kids say and do the darndest things.
According to Yahoo Sports, five-star defensive end Malik McDowell was going to sign with Michigan State, but has yet to sign his letter of intent due to his mother’s disagreement. If a recruit is younger than 18, they need a parent or guardian to make it official.
Four-star quarterback Treon Harris was a Florida State commit, but at a school ceremony elected to go to Florida instead.
Three blue-chip recruits, Damien Mama, John “Juju” Smith and Bryce Dixon all signed with USC on Signing Day, but according to Rivals, all were facing indecision prior to faxing the letter.
Mama called a USC player the night before and told the player he was going to BYU. Smith called Mama two days before Signing Day and told him he was going to Oregon. On top of that, Dixon wrote UCLA on his cleats for the Army All-American Bowl, but during the game, he announced he was going to USC.
How do you explain that?
Get this, according to SB Nation, three-star running back Dacorious Law faxed three intents to three different schools. This was after he hosted a ceremony at Ole Miss announcing his commitment, but also faxed a letter to East Mississippi Community College due to concerns that he would not qualify. Utah was the third school he sent a letter of intent to and where he wanted to go, but his parents were not in favor of the decision.
High school players are indecisive, as Arizona found out last month.
Five–star cornerback Jalen Tabor, the 10th rated player in the nation, verbally committed to the Wildcats in early January on national television during the Army All-American Bowl, but later that week flipped his pledge to Florida.
—Follow Tyler Keckeisen @Tyler_Keckeisen