Should a Recruit Commit Early? And When He Does..

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (IE) -- With six recruiting commitments in hand including the noteworthy grab of Texas center Bob Morton—perhaps the nations best, Notre Dame coaches have been busy this summer.

It also shows that some of the nation's top high school recruits have decided to wade through early the often wrenching process of making a decision months before they have to. Bob Chmiel, former recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame and at Michigan, takes a look at the early process—whether and when a recruit who has been wooed in summer football camp should make the plunge.

In any situation, when an offer has been extended to a young man while he is at camp, or early in the recruiting process, the decision to accept or to wait is difficult. Each recruiting situation has its own characteristics and factors. We are dealing with the one most variable element, the human factor. A perfect situation for one family is a confusing process for another family.

I must however preface my feeling about a camp offer by saying that it is probably the most sound, from the standpoint of the coaching staff. A camp situation offers the mot tangible evidence that a young man will succeed in the school's program.

Here's why:

1) The coaches have met the young man, and usually his family over a period of time. They can access his personality and character on a constant basis, rather than via telephone or through recommendations of people they may not actually know. These factors are critical. They vary, but the risk factor declines as the coaching staff actually spends time with the recruit. The recruit is subject to evaluation from many people within the program, and if the consensus is that he can "make-it," I believe he will!

2) The physical aspects of his evaluation are first hand. His height, weight, and forty time are measured and recorded on campus. They are not derived from a questionnaire.

3) He has met with the admissions people, and as well as an academic representative, and they have reported favorably to the head coach.

With all of these factors in place, and with a good visit with the head coach, the offer is extended.

The prospect and his family should feel confident about the offer. They should feel it is solid--and based upon the performance the young man has exhibited not only on his game tapes, but on a firsthand personal evaluation. This is as good as this process can be.

Does he and his family accept the offer and make a verbal commitment?

Our answer does not fit all situations. But yet from the recruit's standpoint he must understand, that in no other process in recruiting will he be so able to evaluate those people in which he places his academic and athletic future. In other words the benefits of the evaluation are reciprocal.

The player at camp has been coached by the man who will be his position coach in college. He has walked the campus, and lived in a dorm room that could actually be his dorm room in the fall. He probably has met or visited with current team members. He has met with professors and administration people who will guide his academic process through his years on campus. Quality time with the head coach, as opposed to a half hour or hour visit on a recruiting weekend should give him a feel for what the man is all about; and in general he has experienced the entire atmosphere over a period of days. More importantly, the player has experienced the football environment over a period of time during its normal operation, not just over a 47-hour period in which it can be dressed up only for recruiting.

If a staff wants you to be a member of their program after camp, they sincerely want you.

If you are inclined to commit after your camp experience, your decision will be based upon the most tangible factors you can assemble in the recruiting process.

At this time, the recruit should take counsel of his family first and his high school coach.

If at all possible, and at times this is difficult, his family or a family member should be in the "offer visit" with the head coach. All questions from both sides should be thoroughly answered. A recruit should prepare these questions with his parent or guardian. Every question is important, and the head coach is aware of how anxious this time can be for a family.

Any seventeen year old is in a mismatch if he is alone in a hard sales pitch situation with a Division I head football coach, let alone if two or three assistants are also in the meeting placing pressure on a prospect. I can honestly and thankfully say that in my days at Notre dame under Lou Holtz or Bob Davie that this type of recruiting never occurred, I echo the same sentiment with Bo (Schembechler) and Mo (Gary Moeller). But believe me it does happen, and how can a young man be rational in his decision if he is "hot-boxed" by two or three experienced coaches.

It is not out of the question to ask the head coach for some time for the family to meet alone and to weigh their options. I would advise a recruit that if the offer is "take it now or forget it" to forget it. Weigh all factors, but believe me the decision will eventually be made by the heart.

If as a recruit you and your family decide to accept the offer and verbally commit, then celebrate your decision, realize that what you now have is a dream realized and desired by thousands of young men across the country. The amount of families that can say in June, July or August of their son's senior year in high school, that his "college is paid for" is few. A monumental event in your son's life and in yours is set in place. I have seen parents cry; I have cried. The emotion of knowing what great things lie ahead, and to be a part of that young man's future is overwhelming. All too soon however, they walk across the stage with a college degree, and they are off into the world. They become as sons, and for me personally they leave "home" too soon.

I know that a recruit can be advised not to commit at camp. You won't get the recognition of your senior year, you won't make this or that all-star team, and you won't be a post-season All-American. My answer to that is, so what? If I am leaving the Notre dame campus knowing that my next four years will be spent experiencing academic and athletic life at that prestigious university then you can keep all the rest, because the best is yet to come. It can be Notre Dame, it can be Michigan, Miami of Ohio, Yale, Hillsdale, or any number of great schools. You have distinguished yourself, you have made a family decision with people whose only motivation is their love for you. Don't look back.

Your first visit, at home should be with your high school coach. The recruit should thank him, and let him know that although the scholarship is in hand, you will have your greatest year ever, and then proceed to do so, on and off the field.

This may have happened in reverse with Morton. He had verbally committed to Texas A&M, but changed his mind earlier this week.

P.S. As a matter of N.C.A.A. regulations, only the recruit, his family or his high school coach can announce the commitment. The university can only respond to such inquiries as to whether they in fact are recruiting the young man in question. Top Stories