The Waiting Game

Is it better for a college football recruit to jump early on their best scholarship offer and opportunity, or is the best course of action to wait long enough to take official visits for careful exploration? The way circumstances have played out for Georgia running back Andre Anderson, the answer may appear to be the former. But he will tell you that taking his time is the right way to choose a school.

The are pluses and minuses to a lot of decisions in life, and recruiting is not without its own risk/reward analysis.  Some prospective student-athletes jump into their college commitment early, sometimes before finishing their junior year of high school.  Stanford has benefited in each of the last three years from at least one such early pledge, and each year the Cardinal lose a prime prize from their recruiting board with early commitments elsewhere.  You win some, you lose some.

The Cardinal could not have been happier to see running back recruit Andre Anderson wait patiently.  The Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson High School standout held an early scholarship offer from nearby Georgia Tech yet opted to wait on any college commitment until he could take his official visits after his senior season.  Stanford has played the role of co-favorite for the last several months, after they too extended an offer.

Few of his peers have options like Anderson has been exploring, but the recruiting world can play cruel twists of fate to even the mighty blue chips.  The Yellow Jackets have picked up two running back commits while Anderson has played his waiting game, and that has significantly changed his dynamics with the hometown school.  His official visit was indefinitely postponed, and his opportunity to play for the Ramblin' Wreck has melted away.

"That is probably not going to work out with them," he explains.  "They have a lot of people signing, and their scholarships are running low."

Meanwhile across the country, Stanford is still just beyond Anderson's grasp as he awaits the ruling on his admissions application.  All scholarship offers are conditional upon an admissions acceptance, and the Stephenson student-athlete knows that he is on the border.  Just before the holiday break, the Admissions Office asked for additional writing samples to further evaluate him.

"Coach [Nate] Hackett said the fact that they asked for more is a good step, after they turned down a couple kids," Anderson adds.

While he waits anxiously for an answer from Stanford, Anderson is not ignoring other avenues.  The running back took his first official visit to Central Florida this past weekend and came away excited about the Golden Knights.

"I had a real good time in Orlando.  I can see myself there with Coach [George] O'Leary," the recruit reports.  "The direction of their program is looking up.  They have new facilities, and they'll have a new stadium in 2007.  I got a good vibe from the players and Coach O'Leary."

"UCF is going to run the ball, and Coach O'Leary has a track record of doing that.  I will have to redshirt there my first year, but I'm okay with that," Anderson continues.  "Stanford uses the I-formation, and they are trying to run the ball there."

While Tulane and Ole Miss have been sniffing around, Anderson's focus is on his best options currently in front of him.  Barring a surprise phone call from Georgia Tech telling him that they have room for a third running back, he sees his decision being made within a matter of days.

"Stanford is real close with the admissions decision.  It could be any second now," he says.  "I would commit to UCF if I'm not accepted.  If I am accepted, then I will go out to visit [Stanford], compare the schools and see what is the best decision for me."

The possibility is real that Anderson could hear bad news from The Farm, which would remove the second of his two favorites for which he had waited throughout his senior season to visit and evaluate.  It would be easy for him to be filled with frustration and regret at not jumping to an earlier decision, but he remains confident that he is handling his college decision in a prudent and proper fashion for him.

"You never want to rush into a decision like this that will affect the rest of your life," Anderson opines.  "This is not something I want to second guess.  I want to be sure."

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