Wednesday night was going to be the moment for Pasadena JUCO defensive end Dale Pierson. He was going to look Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads and wide receivers coach Todd Sturdy in the eye, shake their hand and commit to the Cyclones' 2014 recruiting class to end a courtship that's lasted since September.
Instead, Pierson will wait, for a variety of reasons, although he still lists the Cyclones as his top school.
"At first I could tell Coach Sturdy wanted me to commit," Pierson told AllCyclones.com on Thursday morning, hours after Rhoads and Sturdy left his home. "But I told them I wanted to go on my visits."
The first cause for hesitation: The Cyclones on Tuesday accepted the commitment of Gabe Luna, a JUCO defensive end from Kansas. Pierson met Luna on his ISU visit (Nov. 22-24) and likes him, so it's nothing personal, but he wants to make sure he'll still have a good chance to replace Willie Scott at defensive end. Luna is a December grad, while Pierson won't leave California until May.
"I was gonna commit," he said. "[Luna committing] is a reason why I didn't but that's not as much of a reason as it may seem to me. Iowa State clarified with me that me and Gabe are different players, he's a run guy, a totally different player.
"They were trying to make me more comfortable. He's more of a run-stop guy. I didn't want them to get me to Ames and just put me there on third down to get a sack. I talked to them about how I'm not just a pass-rusher."
An official visit to Hawai'i has been tentatively set for January. Is Pierson going to end up there, a program that went 1-11 last season and is undergoing staff changes? No. But doesn't Hawai'i in January sound pretty nice?
"I'm not going to commit to Hawai'i, but I still want to take my trip," he said. "Why not? I didn't get to do it in high school. If I can take three visits in three weeks that's what I'm going to do. I told Iowa State it was my No. 1. If I were to commit right now I'd have to shut down my recruitment."
The Hawai'i official could take a side seat if another more serious suitor comes along. Of the five allotted official visits, Pierson has taken trips to Iowa State and Illinois. He'll be at Fresno State this weekend for an unofficial tour — he lives an hour away and isn't going to waste a precious official on that — and might take trips to California and Illinois, which recently offered.
"Cal would be the school that'd put me in on third down," Pierson said. "I got the vibe they're just trying to fill out their roster or get a rotation going [at defensive end]."
Pierson understands there's a catch-22 to all of this. The Cyclones are going to continue to recruit defensive ends and if they get a commitment elsewhere, they'd likely take it. Pierson could lock down a scholarship now and has been advised of the risks of not doing so.
"They were telling me that," Pierson said. "But I'm not going to shake your hand and tell you I'm committed because of all that I want to do (visits)."