No recruit is signed, sealed and delivered until he puts pen to paper on the first Wednesday in February. They can commit and de-commit all they want and schools really have no control over that. However, recruits can now sign financial aid agreements with schools that bind the school to the player, but not the player to the school.
In USC commit Ricky Town’s situation, although he’s not quite delivered yet, he’s pretty much signed and sealed with the Trojans. He’s been committed for months now and has been one of the biggest player recruiters the Trojans have in their 2015 class. The recruiting season is heating up and USC has a talented group of players visiting campus on the weekend of January 17th. Town has a lot of those players on his West squad at the Army All-American Bowl.
“Like you said, that’s a huge week for our recruiting,” Town said. “I’m trying to get as many guys over there on that date. They gave me a long list of people that they want. Luckily a lot of them are on the West so that was really helpful that they’re all here right now on my squad. It’s just to build a friendship and hearing about SC and how they feel about it.”
During the summer, recruits go through the camp circuit. There are hundreds of camps nowadays and players learn new skills, showcase the skills they already have and prepare for football on the collegiate level. The Opening is a collection of the best high school recruits in the country and although it’s a highly competitive camp, there’s no 11-on-11, full pads competition. That’s one thing these All-American games boast — pads and hard hits.
“It’s definitely like The Opening but with pads so it makes it a little more intense,” Town said. “It’s just a lot of fun just to meet new people. There’s a lot of kids here that I’m trying to get to USC. There’s definitely a speed that’s totally different. At the beginning it’s a little bit of an adjustment, but I think I handled it well and I feel pretty good right now with the timing of everything.”
While recruits go through these camps and All-American games, they meet fellow recruits along the way and this is something Town has really capitalized on. He’s a guy that’s been committed to USC for a long time and all recruits know he’s not wavering at all. Town knows the positives and the negatives of attending USC and makes sure other recruits know the positives as well, especially Porter Gustin and Osa Masina.
“I try not to force it on them because I know when I was getting recruited people would force it on me,” Town said. “I was just like, ‘Dude, back off.’ But kind of just here and there. I’d rather just build a friendship with them and ease it in. I think we have a good shot with both of them. I think both of them really like USC. It’s a great linebacker school. Historically, they’ve produced linebackers and I think that fits both Porter and Osa perfectly. I think they’re excited about it.”
Another player who has USC in his final two is running back Ronald Jones II. The Trojans are going up against Notre Dame in the battle for Jones’ services and looks like they’re in a prime position for his commitment right now. Town visited USC on the same weekend as Jones and came away with the impression that Jones would be sporting cardinal and gold in his future.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Town said when asked if USC still leads for Jones. “I remember when we were all saying our goodbyes and stuff I hugged him and stuff and said, ‘I hope to see you again’ and he said, ‘You will.’ Just leaving that way I felt pretty good about it. You never know, but I think we have a good shot.”
Being committed to a school for a long time has its pros and cons. You don’t get to go on free trips across the nation, but you do get to know where you’re attending school for the next four years of your life while others are fretting over the decision. However, Town isn’t seeing any cons about being a long time commit right now.
“I’m happy that I committed when I did,” Town said. “It’s definitely an advantage for myself to already have that relationship and then go in January. I think it helps me. It’s been great. It’s been a true blessing. I’m just excited to get to USC and be with the coaches full time.”
Knowing the coaches well helps Town recruit too. He can tell other players what the coaches are like and how they’ll treat you. In fact, Town has a clever analogy when it comes to recruiting and the way coaches treat recruits before and after they’ve committed.
“There’s definitely an advantage to know who the coaches are,” Town said. “I kind of get a different relationship with them. It’s not like they’re not recruiting me. Recruiting is almost like a honeymoon, where they’re going to kiss your ass and tell you how great you are because they need you and as soon as you’re there, then it’s business. I kind of see both sides and so that’s nice. When it’s the honeymoon and when it’s business, they’re both great people. That’s one of the biggest things I try to tell them. They’re not going to be jerks to you when it’s time to go.”
For now, Town is enjoying himself at the Army All-American Bowl. He heads to college in about two weeks and there’s time to worry about the future later. One part of the future that’s with Town in San Antonio though is fellow USC quarterback commit Sam Darnold. Although Darnold is from California, he’s on the East squad and will go up against Town in the bowl game. It’s a matchup Town is definitely looking forward to.
“It’s really cool,” Town said. “It’s kind of like a glimpse into the future. It’s fun. I take it for what it’s worth and just try to do the best I can.”