First he is; then he isn't

After committing to sign with Alabama at a press conference at his school Monday afternoon, tailback Lavarus Giles of Benoit, Mississippi, reneged on that pledge less than eight hours later.

As BamaMag.com reported last night, Giles called a press conference at tiny Ray Brooks High School yesterday. With several writers and television reporters present, Giles read a statement saying he would sign with the Tide on Wednesday, National Signing Day.

Responding to questions, Lavarus Giles said his earlier commitment was a problem with distance and that his grandmother didn't understand that the Alabama campus wasn't really that far away from Benoit.

Observers on hand for the press conference said that Giles appeared firm in his decision.

But that evening as writers for various Internet sites tried to reach Giles to confirm his commitment, different family members were fielding the calls and passing along contradictory information.

At one point a caller overheard Giles' relative yell out to him, "Why don't you just come tell this guy you're committed so they'll stop calling?"

Later, Giles' grandmother reportedly told a caller that he was unavailable to come to the phone, but that he was not committed to Alabama.

Recruiting writers are nothing if not persistent, and eventually Giles did take several calls, stating that he was now "200 percent committed" to Ole Miss. Andrew Bone of TheInsiders.com confirmed his recommitment to the Rebels with Giles late last night.

It's likely that this story hasn't seen its final twist and turn. In two days Giles will sign with somebody, but even then this Mississippi Delta saga may not be finished. The Mobile Press-Register did a story this morning on the situation, alluding to several charges and counter-charges back and forth between Giles' grandmother and the superintendent of Giles' school system, with references to Mississippi State even being made. And if you're wondering how the Bulldogs managed to get pulled into this story, well...

You're not alone.

During another phone call last night, Giles' grandmother told the caller to "check back with us Wednesday, and we'll tell you where he signed."

Okay.

Signing Day Procedures, Readers Please Note

As most recruiting fans know, college coaches cannot speak about any high school prospect at any time during the recruiting process. It's a strict, clear rule that is definitely enforced. The only exception is on Signing Day itself, when coaches are basically given a one-day dispensation to comment specifically about their recruiting class and individual signees specifically.

However, that can't happen until the school receives the signed scholarship papers. At one time that had to be in the form of a hard copy, which caused a great deal of confusion with players, player's parents, coaches, etc. driving to the Football Complex to deliver the papers in person. Or alternately the staff was simply made to wait--sometimes for weeks--as the papers were mailed or shipped to the coaches.

The NCAA now allows the school to accept faxed copies of the signed scholarship, at which point they can "count" the recruit and speak about him at a post-signing-day press conference. But the actual hard copy must eventually be received and kept on file.

Probably half to two-thirds of Bama's class will get the deal done quickly. Beginning at 8 am on Wednesday (maybe earlier), fax machines at the Football Complex will begin whirring. Some athletes just don't get around to it until later in the day. Often it will fall to the prep football coach to handle that duty, and he's not necessarily available till later in the morning. Other times, players may have scheduled a press conference, and they don't want to sign until then. So any of a number of things can interfere, stretching out the suspense longer than fans might like.

When the machine's bell rings, the football secretaries will carefully retrieve the faxed copies and deliver them to the coaches. At that point Alabama's procedure for informing the fans is simple. Someone at Mike Shula's office (usually his secretary, Mary Spybey) will call Larry White, Alabama's Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations. White will then relay the information to any writers in his office.

At BamaMag.com Kirk and I have gone through several Signing Days now, and we think we've figured out the best way to pass along the news to our readers as quickly as possible.

First, please note that in the morning and early afternoon will not be the time to check the front page of the website for breaking news. We'll have a morning story posted, listing all the athletes expected to sign that day. But frankly past experience has proven to us that the network server will be taxed to its limit that day. And the result is that even if we post a story every 15 minutes or so, it won't "show up" on the front page until an hour (or more) later.

The message boards are the best bet for this type story, and that's where we'll be, specifically on the ‘BAMA Board. We'd strongly suggest that all our readers interested in seeing the latest signees check there on a regular basis. Things are going to be more than hectic that day, and please don't expect us to be in more than one place at once.

We'll do two things in that regard. First, as we receive confirmation that a player has faxed in his papers, we'll post that information on the message board ("Nikita Stover makes it official...") along with a quick bio and maybe a quote or two.

Second, we'll "stick" a thread to the top of the message board, saying "So far ____ athletes have faxed in their scholarship papers..." including, Will, Trent, Nick, Keith, etc.

As the situation changes, we'll edit that post at the top of the message board to include the latest developments.

At the end of the day, we'll put up two big stories, listing all the offensive and defensive signees, including photos, bios, quotes, etc.

And later in the evening, check back for a story based on Coach Shula's comments about the class in general, his recruiting goals, specific players, etc. But that story obviously can't be written until after we talk to Shula, which probably won't happen until late afternoon.

Read all of the recent recruiting stories on Alabama recruits from TheInsiders.com.


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