'Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the house
not a creature was stirring
not even a mouse...
... except the mouse of a 6'4" 280-pound high school senior, clicking between eight spreadsheet tabs on a brightly lit monitor in the dark of night.
Most kids across the country tonight are restlessly counting down the hours and minutes until their Christmas bounty is revealed under the tree. For Chase Beeler, he is instead preoccupied with the present he has loaded on his sleigh, with a destination unknown. A phone call from the Jenks (Okla.) High School senior to either Walt Harris or Bob Stoops would make a very merry Christmas for the Stanford or Oklahoma football programs, but Beeler is still at this date wrestling with what has proved to be a difficult decision.
The prized offensive lineman took his final two official visits earlier this month to nearby Norman and distant Stanford, after which he returned and set a goal of making his college commitment before Christmas. Then again, Beeler outlined a plan last spring to have his decision done before he started his senior year, and that went out the window. The cerebral student-athlete has increasingly discovered the complexity of his decision matrix, and as he has grown closer to the two schools, he has found it harder to find fault with either option.
"Chase is still undecided," says mother Susan Beeler today. "He's taking into account all of the factors. He wants to see which school is the best all-around for him."
For some recruits, there is a single tipping point. Playing time, distance, academic major or even the strength & conditioning program can stand as the one clear factor to choose between one's final favorites. But for Chase Beeler, there is a big picture, which is expansive.
"He wants to be 100% sure," Mrs. Beeler comments. "And that's the hard thing."
There are two schools of thought as to why the Sooner State standout is still agonizing over his decision. He could be truly balanced in his view of the two options, unable to make enough of a meaningful distinction between them in his aggregate view. Alternatively, Beeler could be leaning in one direction, but still see enough value in the other school that he cannot yet bring himself to close the book on that future. Which is the case? Some within the state have believed Beeler to be Oklahoma's to lose. His mother suggests otherwise.
"It's different every hour," she offers on her son's leanings. "There is nothing wrong with any of the schools."
In a decision apparently this difficult, recruitniks can read the tea leaves until their heads start spinning, but there is no reliable information forecasting whether the Pac-10 or Big 12 will come away the winner. Both camps have been confident since Beeler's respective official visits earlier this month. The question we can ask, however, is when the decision will come. A pre-Christmas call is now out of the question, and apparently so too is a new deadline for a decision.
"We've set deadlines and not been able to meet them," says Susan Beeler. "It seems to just put more stress on the situation, so we are not setting any more deadlines. Chase will just wake up one morning and know what he should do."
While Signing Day is still more than a month away, there is some urgency for Chase Beeler regarding his status with the Sooners. Oklahoma has already taken verbal commitments from five linemen in this class. It has been widely reported that the offensive line is a great enough need for Oklahoma this year that they intend to take more, but there are more offers than slots remaining at that position. Stanford similarly would like to make a statement with their offensive line haul in the 2006 class, and they have already netted three verbal commits. However, the Cardinal do not have the depth on their recruiting board to put a squeeze on Beeler, who rates as their top interior line prospect.
There is no new deadline, but it is likely that a decision will come sooner rather than later for Beeler. Will it be Sooner or Cardinal for Beeler? Following his lead, we too will wake up one morning to find the answer.
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