HD Roundtable: Recruits Making Reservations?

Question: Charlie Strong on Monday said that often times when recruits commit to you early they are making a reservation. They want to hold that spot in a class and then go look around.

How should Longhorns coaches handle this moving forward? It's sort of a Catch 22 because you want to get verbal commitments when you can, but you also don't want to be burned late in the process.

Chip Brown’s take

I think because Charlie Strong is so hands-on in the recruiting process, this question of "making a reservation" with a commitment to one school while looking around is less of a problem than at Texas under Mack Brown.

Brown tried to get recruits to relate to him on his level. And that's not to say Strong then changes into a drill sergeant once recruits arrive on campus.

But Strong can laugh and joke and disarm situations in which kids are looking around before finally reaching the point of feeling like he's getting played.

I always think back to the Ryan Perrilloux recruitment in 2005 when I think of Mack in a situation where he was getting played. Mack said privately many times to Perrilloux, "If you're not sure, de-commit and keep looking around." (Mack's wife, Sally, even named one of her horses "Lou Lou" for Perrilloux.)

But it became clear Perrilloux wanted to give the appearance of being committed to Texas up until the last minute, so he'd get the maximum shock value when the Louisiana kid tried to make it look like a signing day switch to LSU (while he was trying to recruit players like Martellus Bennett to LSU with him).

I think Strong would be able to smell a rat in that situation and head it off long before signing day.

The thing I like about Strong in most any situation is his ability to cut right through the clutter to the heart of the matter. I think ultimately that's what draws recruits and their parents to him. He's not calculated. There's no hesitation. If he feels like a recruit is "making a reservation" by committing, you know Strong will call that recruit out in a funny way that the recruit will respect.

I think it's case by case. Strong and the Texas staff talk to recruits committed to other schools all the time and try to get them to take visits and flip. It's part of the process. You just don't want to get played like Mack Brown did by recruits like Ryan Perrilloux and DT A'Shawn Robinson in 2013, when UT was the only major program not to land a single D-lineman.

Something tells me Strong would have that sniffed out well in advance of holding a scholarship for a kid who is going to bolt at the last minute. I would bet in some instances Strong understands if kids from low-income backgrounds take some trips just for the experience of traveling and seeing another part of the country - trips they might not otherwise be able to take financially.

That's my long-winded way of saying I think it should be case by case.

Gabe Brooks’s take

This is indeed a very difficult situation to maneuver.

It's my personal opinion that once an offer is extended, that offer should be good for the duration of the athlete's recruitment. Meaning, as long as the athlete doesn't do anything that the program deems contradictory of worthy of an offer, that offer should stand.

I think most people would agree that an offer should not be pulled late in the process, such as the case with West Mesquite 2015 quarterback Chason Virgil this past week. Virgil, who committed May 15 to Mississippi State, had his offer pulled and reduced to a grayshirt offer fewer than three weeks prior to his early graduation, which was encouraged by Mississippi State, according to West Mesquite head coach Jeff Neill.

Choosing a college is not an easy process, much less choosing a college when you have as many schools courting you as some of these recruits are fortunate enough to have pursuing them. I can remember choosing a school and it was not an easy process, even with only a hand full in the decision-making process because of affordability.

I believe that the risk of being burned late in the process is simply that: part of the process.

How do you combat that possibility?

Well, you're eventually gonna suffer that fate, regardless of how diligent you are with your offer process and your scouting. But I think that trying to prevent late flips from happening could be best confronted by as thorough an evaluation process as possible. Additionally, for fans who become impatient when a school has yet to offer a prospect who has gotten offers from all of its rivals, maybe that's a sign that the school is doing its due diligence in the offer process.

In other words, I believe that in the recruiting process itself, the majority of the power should lie with the recruit. That's not to advocate flippant decommitting. But the school with which the prospect ultimately signs will have all the power during his college career, so giving that prospect as much flexibility and opportunity as possible during the decision-making process is only fair.

William Wilkerson’s take

This is such a difficult situation and I don’t envy either the coaches or even the recruits when it comes to this.

It’s just my personal opinion that once you commit to a school you need to honor that commitment and shut down the recruiting process entirely. I know verbal commitments are non-binding but, to me, your word should mean something.

If you aren’t entirely sure where you want to go to school or want to “enjoy the process” then don’t commit. It’s as simple as that. If you’re committed but still looking around, then don’t be surprised if the school your committed to keeps its options open and continues to recruit at your position.

College football is big business with a ton at stake. Recruits need to realize that.

I wonder if Strong was directing his words at any UT commitments because Texas has had a few commitments take visits over the last few months.

Jason Higdon’s take

There is a very simple solution to this problem. Texas coaches are already taking advantage of this opportunity: You shop then we shop. It really is that simple.

If any recruit who announces for your school steps foot on the campus of another school you continue recruiting that position and Texas has done that so far and will continue in the future.

If these kids are not willing to shut it down why should Charlie Strong and the rest of the coaches?

Nick Castillo’s take

Charlie Strong made a really good point about recruiting at his weekly press conference: “often times when recruits commit to you early they are making a reservation. They want to hold that spot in a class and then go look around.”

While this is true, there isn’t much Strong can do about it. In the current world of recruiting, you have to follow the crowd, for the most part, or risk the chance on losing out on big recruits.

It’s a Catch-22 as Strong and the Longhorns need those star recruits. But, at the same time, Texas can’t afford to get spurned by recruits who change their minds late in the recruiting process.

At this point, Strong can’t do much to change the way recruiting works. Strong and the coaching staff have to play the game and accept the repercussions. They will always come to Texas and stick it out all the way to end because it is Texas. And there will be those who verbally commit and eventually decommit. This is just the way it works.


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