At this time of year, especially in the dog days of summer, some of the fans' biggest thrills come from learning of the early commits. Not much is taking place on the field right now, but the various team boards are filled with taunts and counter claims about this team leading in recruiting right now and how that team is going to kick butt!! Well, I have to ask, is all the hype really worth it?? Can and does a team's future really hinge on those early scholarships offered and accepted. Or perhaps, is it really better to see how a kid's senior season plays out and then go after the very best? Surely, the answer is not etched in stone and there is considerable difference of opinion.
Each day somebody posts on one of the SC Boards that we are getting trounced in recruiting and that our coaches better get on the stick. Similarly, somebody is usually wondering in writing why we did not offer this kid early or why we are not offering that kid at all. Let's review history. How many times have we read or heard late in recruiting about this wasted scholarship and that desperation signing? Two names that come to mind are Troy Polamulu and Charlie Landrigan. Time and again I found myself arguing with others that Polamulu was as stud in high school and we were lucky to have him available so late in the game. How many people screamed bloody murder that Charlie was just part of a package deal that included the much more highly regarded Mal McKenzie? I am the first to admit that there are a few super kids around that are very likely to be supers in college and there is no doubt that offering these kids late in their junior years or in the summer of their senior year makes sense. ( Ironically, it is many of these exact players who choose to take all their visits and don't commit early, anyway.) However, with many ballplayers, their best does not show until their senior season. I think it behooves most staffs to carefully evaluate the kids and not to over extend those precious rides until they have a chance to carefully evaluate kids during their senior seasons. In recent years, it seems as though USC has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start. We have gotten some early commitments, but have they all panned out? If I am not mistaken, Bobby DeMars was an early commit and so was Miguel Fletcher. Did both of these guys have the kind of hich school senior seasons that would have still warranted a ride at SC? Perhaps the answer is yes, but perhaps there is room for thought at least in some people's minds. The purpose of this article is not to pick on any one kid. I merely want to point out that there are upsides and downsides to offering kids early. Of course, even if a kid is offered after a great senior season, there is no guarantee that players will succeed in college and many would agree that USC has excelled in finding all too many of just that type of recruit. Recruiting is an artform at best, a crapshoot at worst and in no way at all will it ever be an exact science.
I don't think it matters who is committed in mid-July. On the other hand, I think it is absolutely vital who signs on the dotted line on LOI day and it is even more urgent to see who actually qualifies and shows up for the first practice in August, healthy, fit, talented, and ready to give it all up for SC.