Skinner's Tulane Misconnect Results in a BYU Score

Legendary coach <b>Eddy Peach</b> was livid. <b>Billy Skinner</b> was bewildered. <b>Lisa Machen</b> was worried. And BYU's <b>Todd Bradford</b> was the proverbial knight in shining armor who saved the day.

Peach, the second-winningest active high school coach in Class 5A with a 272-94-7 record and 15 district championships, is the only head football coach that Texas prep powerhouse Lamar High School (Texas) has ever had since it opened in 1970.

Skinner, an All-Area selection ranked No. 48 on the Dallas Morning News Area Top 100 recruit list, was the top defensive back on a team that had nine players sign Div. 1 letters of intent on Feb. 4.

Machen was a concerned mother hoping for the best for her son during a time of turmoil and uncertainty.

Bradford, BYU's co-offensive coordinator, scored a situation-saving "touchdown" for BYU that netted a coveted letter of intent from Skinner.

The anguish and concern by coach, mother and son arose because of a major miscommunication with former Tulane wide receiver coach Trooper Taylor, who aggressively recruited and offered Skinner a scholarship.

Skinner, a 6-0, 195-pound All-Area defensive back with 4.5/40 and 32-inch vertical, said he verbally committed to Tulane on Dec. 5, along with Lamar teammate, All-District OL Adam Hill. Skinner recorded 68 tackles, 8 interceptions and two defensive touchdowns this past season.

The best of friends, Billy Skinner and Adam Hill's collective dream of playing together ended Jan. 12 when they tried to contact coach Taylor to set up their official recruiting visit to Tulane in New Orleans the weekend of Jan. 16.

They were surprised to learn Taylor had left Tulane and was the new running backs coach at SEC powerhouse Tennessee. They were even more shocked to learn Tulane was no longer interested in them and the promised scholarships were no more.

In a Jan. 28 Dallas Morning News article, Skinner said, "I really liked how genuine he (coach Taylor) was. I didn't feel like he would steer me wrong and that my five years at Tulane were taken care of. He also told me not to take other visits because it would look like I was shopping my scholarship."

Most upsetting for both players and their parents was the fact that Taylor had not bothered to contact them, their parents or their influential coach. In the same article, Jeremy Crabtree, editor of Rivals100.com, said it is not common for programs to pull offers from committed players. He noted, however, that "I've not seen a situation like this. It may be the rarest of rare."

Fortunately for Skinner – and despite his December oral commitment to Tulane, MWC schools New Mexico, Utah and BYU were still recruiting him.

Upon hearing the news, coach Bradford immediately flew to Texas, visited the Skinner family at home and with Billy at school.

"He talked to the (BYU) coaches and Bronco Mendenhall said there was a scholarship available and set up a visit for that (Jan. 16) weekend. BYU went above and beyond and had a scholarship for me," a grateful Skinner told TotalBlueSports.com. Meanwhile, his teammate, Adam Hill, signed with Louisiana-Monroe.

Skinner and his mother made the hastily-arranged Jan. 16 weekend recruiting visit to Provo instead of to New Orleans. "I really enjoyed my time there," Skinner said. "My host, Kellen Fowler, and I got to hang out. It was really awesome. My mom came along on the trip. It was really important to me for her to be happy. I really appreciated them (BYU coaching staff) taking good care of her."

The trip was much better than I expected. Some colleges I talked to tried to use the Mormon thing against me. I loved the scenery and the campus. I really, really enjoyed it. I didn't want to go to a school where I could get into trouble. BYU is the perfect place for me.

My mother really loved it, too. She was so excited I don't think she wanted to go home after that. She said, ‘Maybe I should find a job in Utah,'" Skinner said half jokingly.

With a NCAA qualifying 920 SAT score already in hand, Skinner said "the academic structure (at BYU) really sold me."

Lisa and Billy met with Cougar head coach Gary Crowton and defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall during their visit.

"Coach Mendenhall said he was happy I made it out (to Provo). He said I can play if I became mentally ready. I really liked him a lot."

"Coach Crowton was making sure everything was going OK on our visit. I couldn't believe how awesome he was," Skinner said.

His mother's impressions on their meeting with Crowton? "It was really awesome. The same values they have are the same things we have raised Billy on all along."

Billy, she said, is the youngest of her seven children and she was particularly protective of him. "I feel like this (BYU) is a God-thing. I feel like God is looking out for Billy. It worked out beautifully and it's really special. Actually, I wouldn't mind living there (Utah). It's really hard, being the baby and all, knowing he's going there (BYU) to finish growing up. But it's a comforting feeling for me," his mother confided.

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