Analysis: Will Gross Development

On Wednesday night, TigerAuthority.com reported that 2012 Melrose quarterback Will Gross, who on the radio committed to the University of Memphis Tuesday, while still committed, was keeping his recruitment open through his senior season and proceeding with a visit to Cincinnati in August.

It's not uncommon practice for a recruit, especially in football, to give a verbal pledge to a coaching staff while still looking for better options. Commitments are hardly binding.

What I wanted to do in this space was provide our subscribers with an insight to the Gross situation, and more specifically our conversation.

My idea originally was to talk to Gross on Tuesday shortly after he committed on Chris Vernon's radio show. We never connected, however, and I ran a quick commitment story without quotes after he confirmed his commitment to Andrew Bone of Scout.com in a text.

I still wanted to talk to him, though, because I felt that Gross's commitment to the Tigers was by far the brightest moment of U of M coach Larry Porter's tenure. Gross had offers from several SEC and Big East schools; it was a huge victory for the U of M staff to keep the Melrose product home. My intent was to discuss, with Gross, how he felt his commitment would be perceived around the city through fans' and fellow Memphis prospects' eyes.

When I asked him that very question, he offered this: "Well, it was heat of the moment when I decided. I just couldn't see myself in another uniform that morning. I just kept picturing things over and over. SEC schools are calling me every day. It's a big chance that anybody can have me. I'm just focused on my senior season."

It should be noted that never once in our entire conversation did I ask: "Will, how firm is your commitment to the Tigers?" Gross provided the information that he was open in his recruitment completely unprovoked.

After his response, I followed up with how he picked the Tigers. As I wrote in the article, he sat down with his family earlier in the week and they collectively compiled a top five. When it came down to Memphis and Cincinnati, Gross picked Memphis because, as he told me, "he didn't feel at home at Cincinnati." But he'd never visited there, either.

He's taking a visit in the second week of school next month and he said they have a "big chance" to land him.

From what I could gather in our nearly 20-minute phone conversation, it seems like Gross just pulled the trigger too early. I'm not sure he was ready to conclude his recruitment just yet, especially when he said things like this:

"I love the (Memphis) program. I think it's got a big change in it and it's turning around very slowly. Most importantly, it's right there that I felt at home."

Then this, three minutes later:

"SEC schools are calling me every day. It's a big chance that anybody can have me."

It's a healthy practice to remind yourself that you're still dealing with 16-year-old kids, and most don't know what they're going to eat for breakfast the next morning let alone where they'll spend the next four years of their lives.

Still, it makes me wonder why he would go through the trouble of calling into a radio station to commit only to reconsider his decision only 24 hours later.

Either way, it's worth monitoring over the next year. It's perfectly plausible that Gross ends up a Tiger, although I'd place the odds on that at best 50/50. If he never wears a Memphis uniform, Gross's commitment will ultimately serve as a haunting reminder of how fluid — and unpredictable — college football recruiting can really be.


Tiger Authority Top Stories