First Offers - Meaningless Or Strategic?

It is very very early in the recruiting season, a season that never stops or ends these days. The day after Signing Day, it immediately begins all over again and sometimes the seasons even overlap with Junior prospects receiving offers before the senior class has signed. So, does offering early really give you a leg up in the process? ...

Early offers are becoming more and more commonplace these days. Coaches wanting to gain favor with high profile prospects look to impress with early offers and words of praise. But how often do they payoff by the time signing day rolls around a year or so later?

As Miller Safrit has reported, the first offer is in for talented Conway (SC) defensive end Hivera Greene, and it made quite an impact on him.

"I got offered on Saturday by Clemson," says the 6-foot-5, 255 pounder. "I went up there for the Junior day and Coach Sweeney offered me then. I talked to coach Bowden too and he told me how much they wanted to have me."

With a Tiger offer, Greene could jump on the offer early, but he plans to hold on a bit longer.

"I'm really into them, but I still want wait and see what my options are and what other teams will offer me. I'm not looking for an offer from any one specific team, but just to see who does offer. I'm also trying to get my family's feelings on everything."

So obviously, Greene is impressed with Clemson and appears to be leaning that way. But he did not commit. And that changes things because if you offer early and fail to get a commitment it can backfire on you.

Recent examples of early Gamecock offers illustrates the gamble. Last season for instance the Gamecocks had offered by this time of the year, Leon Hart, Matt Raysor, Philip Merling, Jonathan Joeseph, Dorian Capers, Sidney Rice, Marque Hall, Tremele Kline, Brandon Samuels, Kendrick Lynch, Corey Lambert and James Thompson.

Only Raysor committed early and he stuck with that commitment through thick and thin. Others took their time. None fell back on the "early offer" compliment when making their final decision.

As a matter of fact, with the exception of Lambert, all of the above mentioned prospects from last year's class were offered first by South Carolina. Yet all did not sign with the Gamecocks - although all were considered leans to heavy leans at the time of the offer, again with the exception of Lambert.

And the year before? Names such as Tremaine Billie, Eric Young and Demetrius Summers come to mind. The year before that Kenny Irons and Moe Thompson.

Early offers pay off from time to time but more often than not winning seasons, establishing relationships and comfortable visits are what pay dividends come signing day more than anything else. Also, the offer of early playing time and open positions suffering graduation attrition are attractive to future prospects, much more than the simple gesture of an early offer.

Over the years one thing has become clear when it comes to modern day athletes. As the offers begin to roll in, their stock rises. And as their stock rises so do their egos. At that point early-first offers mean little to most - just being in the early pack is enough to be in the hunt provided all the other elements are in place to make a particular school attractive to any given prospect.

Sometimes it helps, usually it means nothing. Being able to tout outstanding graduation rates, mass fan support and winning seasons means more. So the next time you see an early offer lead to exhaulted words of praise from any prospect, keep that in mind. There is a lot of time between spring of one year and signing day of the next. Things change - and usually do. Nothing is written in stone until that first week in February.

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