DECKER: Thomas Pledge Should Raise Concerns

Something just isn't right about DeShaun Thomas' pledge to Ohio State late last week...

Something just isn't right about DeShaun Thomas' pledge to Ohio State late last week.

The 15-year-old from Ft. Wayne's Bishop Luers H.S. caught plenty by surprise when he capped an unofficial visit to the Columbus, Ohio, campus by announcing he'd welcome the opportunity to sport the Scarlet and Grey beginning in the fall of 2010.

Scout.com's top-ranked rising sophomore, Thomas is the latest recruiting coup for Buckeye Coach Thad Matta, who is fresh off a national championship game run and is making a habit of luring anybody he wants to a supposed football school. But unlike pledges from players such as Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook, B.J. Mullens, Kosta Koufos and other elite preps, Thomas' pledge should send up a red flag to someone.

Now, I'm not suggesting anything sinister about the Matta's recruiting practices. He's a young, personable and extremely successful coach who is quickly establishing himself as one of the elite coaches in the college game. But there does seem to be something afoul about seeking a commitment from a high freshman who's closer to childhood than adulthood.

After all, Thomas was less than three weeks removed from saying at the Adidas May Classic in Bloomington that a college decision wasn't even on his radar.

"It's a long way off," Thomas said about making a decision. "I've got three more years of high school, so I've got a long time to think about it."

Apparently, an opportunity to go to Columbus and reportedly talk with Oden and Conley, among others, convinced Thomas he needed only three weeks – not three years – to come to a resolution about his future.

It's important to note Ohio State isn't any more guilty than anyone else in this practice. The Buckeyes were just more successful than the others who attempted to do the same. After all, Indiana had offered Thomas a scholarship, and the Hoosiers were the first to send Thomas a recruiting letter – in the sixth grade. Purdue, Duke, Florida and North Carolina were among the other programs that had expressed plenty of interest and had little doubt the 6'8", 210-pounder was well worth all of the hype he's garnered early in his prep career.

But there's a problem when college coaches either choose to or feel forced to attempt to secure commitments from players at an age when they're arguably not equipped to make such a monumental decision.

Making this sort of announcement is of little benefit to the kid, who has no recourse if the college opts to withdraw its scholarship offer in the future. On the flipside, there are numerous examples of kids who have been subjected to the wrath of over-zealous fans if they wind up changing their mind about their college choices.

It's an imperfect system without easy answers. But it's an issue that someone needs to take a closer look at soon.


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