Jonathan Davis: Did He or Didn't He Commit?

Recruiting is a funny business. While two recruiting services were reporting the commitment of Jonathan Davis to South Carolina, the player and his father were repeatedly issuing denials. While Davis said he had not spoken with anyone today from the services reporting his commitment, he did speak with Scout's Burke Hayes, who brings you an accurate update on his recruiting and USC's standing.

Jonathan Davis has been favoring the Gamecocks for some time now, and early Saturday it was reported by Rivals and ESPN that he had committed to them. After conflicting reports lingered all day, GamecockAnthem.com got a final word from his father Ty Davis just before 8 pm: "We have not committed to anyone yet. I'm not sure what Rivals is saying, I have not talked to anyone from Rivals today, but people are going to write what they want to write. I'm just going to leave it at that. When we do commit, we'll let everybody know."

College football fans have made following recruiting a major business these days. The two largest national entities following recruiting, Scout and Rivals have been acquired in recent years by Fox Interactive Media and Yahoo, respectively, in acknowledgement of their commercial prowess. ESPN has jumped into the game late and now has several affiliates associated with major schools.

The attention high school football players get because of the focus on recruiting has helped universities focus in on athletes best suited to help their programs, and has helped players from small programs or programs with losing records who might not have garnered much attention otherwise become media superstars. Those who have benefitted are players whose initial stats might give a program pause.

Jonathan Davis is rated as a 4-Star prospect by Scout.com, and the #9 middle linebacker in the country, despite only being 5'7.5" tall. South Carolina began recruiting Davis heavily early, despite his height. Their faith in him has been rewarded, as he has maintained the Gamecocks as his leader, even as his list of offers has grown to include scholarship tenders from many of the best programs in the SEC and ACC, including faxed offers received at his school the day before the SEC championship game from the two programs in that game, Florida and Alabama.

There can be a dark side to all the attention though. In addition to calls and visits from coaches courting them for their services, players can also be inundated with calls from the recruiting services.

Davis acknowledges screening his calls these days, taking calls only from those he wants to talk to. His father fields many of his calls for him. One of those whom Davis willingly talks to is Burke Hayes, like Davis a Georgia native, and a former Peach State high school football coach, who is now the Southeastern Recruiting Manager for Scout.com. He was on the phone with Hayes Saturday morning, telling him about his team's thrilling win in the Georgia AAAA state high school championship game the night before. Hayes received a text page telling him about Davis's alleged commitment to South Carolina. When he asked Davis about it, Davis acknowledged that South Carolina's status as his leader had not changed, but that he had not committed to the Gamecocks.

Davis's father Ty called Hayes early Saturday afternoon, also to discuss the championship game the night before. When Hayes asked Mr. Davis about the reports that continued to come out that day about his son's alleged commitment, the elder Davis laughed and said, "No, he hasn't committed to South Carolina...This is the fifth school that he has already "committed to."

Both Davis and his father told Hayes at separate times Saturday that South Carolina is their leader, and they are expecting an in-home visit from USC Head Coach Steve Spurrier soon.

Information about recruiting comes from different sources: the players, their parents, their high school coaches, and from sources within the schools recruiting them. Like any journalistic endeavor, the information from sources do not always lineup, and recruiting analysts have to check with different sources at times to determine the veracity of a claim. USC sources late Saturday were unaware of any commitment by Davis. And players can tell different people different things, but Davis has been candid with Hayes during his recruitment process, and Hayes believes him when he says he has not yet committed.

Davis told Hayes of his plans for visiting other schools, including his first official visit to one of the region's smaller programs that is after Davis in a big way. ""I'm going to take my first Official Visit to UAB," he said."And I am excited about how they are recruiting me so hard. The whole staff came to my house, and that really shows how bad they want me." Davis indicated that Central Florida would get his second official visit, and South Carolina his third. He is undecided on the final two schools he will take official visits to. Hayes asked him if his earlier decision to wait until National Signing Day was still valid. Davis replied, "Yes Sir," he said. "I am going to take my time, just to be sure."

One strong piece of evidence that Jonathan Davis keeps his word was evident in the state championship game Friday night. The two teams playing had faced off earlier in the season, and Davis's Tucker Tigers were handed a 38-0 shellacking by the Marist War Eagles. When Hayes spoke with Davis the week following the loss, the young linebacker made a statement similar to Tim Tebow's after the Gator loss to Ole Miss, and what he said stuck with Hayes: "I will not let this happen again."

The Tucker Tigers, led by Davis on both sides of the ball, avenged their earlier loss and claimed the championship with a 15–3 win over Marist. Just like Davis said they would.

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