Recruiting Business: "The Ugly Side"

I've never written an editorial piece but today something happened that really bothered me to the core. I've covered recruiting for a decade plus and never have I encountered the scenario brought to my attention this evening. The state's "Mr. Football" winner, Dutch Fork RB Matt Colburn had his Louisville scholarship pulled and was "suggested to grey-shirt" 2 days before Signing Day.

(This editorial is strictly my own personal opinion and is not the opinion of Scout.com or the Fox Sports network)

Where to begin? I received a text message from 2015 Dutch Fork running back Matt Colburn earlier this evening (Monday). Nothing odd there. We've talked a good bit during the recruiting process and anyone who meets Matt Colburn will tell you, he's the kind of young man that anybody, and I mean anybody, would love to have not only as a football player but as a son, a friend, a teammate, and so on. In terms of football the young man has left it all on the table for his Dutch Fork team leading them to a state championship as a junior and returning to the game again this season before falling to Hillcrest.

Again...Matt is genuinely loved and adored by his peers, coaches, and friends but also as importantly he is well respected by his opponents. The kid is so doggone genuinely nice and likeable its not funny. I've forged many good relationships in this business and Matt just has that positive energy that draws people in. Even when beating my former high school, Byrnes High School, two seasons ago I just couldn't get over how electric this young man was on the football field but then to have a personality to match it speaks volumes.

There was also a Herculean effort against Allen High (TX) where he nearly helped the Silver Foxes knock off a team that won the high school national championship according to multiple media outlets. That 58-53 loss would arguably be Allen's toughest game of the season. Colburn would run 25 times for 250 yards and scored 3 rushing touchdowns and also added a 75 yard receiving touchdown in the loss. The Allen Eagles have respect for Matt Colburn.

Although his team lost to Hillcrest in the state championship this season there was very little else Matt Colburn could do to top off his fabulous career. But Matt Colburn continued to work and he took things to another level though winning the state's most prestigious award being named South Carolina's Mr. Football and winning offensive MVP in the Shrine Bowl in a win for the Sandlappers over North Carolina.

Needless to say the message that would follow his normal, "Hey what's up Mr. Kerry" absolutely floored me.

Colburn went on to inform me that Louisville would not honor their scholarship offer to him and suggested that he greyshirt because they had other commits this past weekend and they needed room to sign them. Another "reason given" was that the Cardinals lost some players declaring for the NFL draft at cornerback and they had more of a need there than at running back now.

I understand that recruiting is a business and yes I've seen prospects who've pulled the rug out from under college coaches by switching their commitment or signing with another school on Signing Day but this one just stinks to the core. There are essentially two days before National Signing Day and for a young man who has done everything the right way and gave his commitment to Louisville last June and never really listened to other schools who continued to recruit him because he gave his "word or pledge" to the staff after they offered him.

I would ask Matt from time to time, "are you listening to anybody else that comes in to try and sway you to switch from Louisville?"

"No sir. I'm happy with Louisville and I tell those coaches who come by to recruit me still that I'm good with my decision to go to Louisville."

Colburn has every reason to be upset and frustrated at this point. He wanted the recruiting process behind him and made his commitment to the Cardinals in June. It was supposed to be a done deal so he could focus on his senior season but now he's back at square one with just a day and a half to try and find a new home. Grades are NOT an issue as he is a full qualifier and has been for over a year. Character and off the field issues are also not an issue.

For now Colburn told us that he's "scrambling" with his Dutch Fork coaches trying to get everything together with new schools that may have an opening for him.

Yes recruiting is a business and this isn't the first time that this has happened. I myself have never experienced it with a recruit during my 10 years in the business working for various recruiting services. I understand there's a business side to it but I was also raised and taught that "a man's word is his bond."

Matt Colburn honored his word when he committed to Louisville. Its a damn shame Bobby Petrino knows nothing about that sentiment.

Am I salty? Yes.

Got sour grapes? Yep.

Am I pissed? You know it.

The "business" side of things ripped apart an outstanding young man's dream less than 48 hours before Signing Day and that is Bobby Petrino's prerogative. I can't speak for Dutch Fork head coach Tom Knotts by any means but if I were in his shoes, no Louisville coach would ever set foot on Dutch Fork's campus unless a new head coach was in place. Feedback and messages I've received from other top South Carolina high school coaches seems to support that thought process, that's for Tom Knotts to decide though.

Even fans from Dutch Fork, the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the Atlanta Falcons have reached out to us voicing their displeasure with their "Bobby Petrino experiences" in the past couple of hours.

To Matt Colburn I say this...

Just like you play on the football field. Driven. Determined. Relentless. Full of heart. Continue to chase that dream of playing collegiate football while earning a college degree. Your battle against the "recruiting business" won't be the last but it sure as hell will leave a black eye on the guilty parties involved, namely Petrino. It will also prove to be an example to other high school prospects that dream of earning a football scholarship to attend college one day.

Continue to be a first class person Matt Colburn, you deserve better than the news you received today. You could teach Mr. Petrino plenty about class and integrity. Unless you decide to take Louisville up on the greyshirt offer, wherever you land, I pray somehow some way that you get a chance to play against Louisville and just like you've done your whole career...run all over opposing teams and just flash that million dollar smile afterwards and make them fully and totally regret their "business decision."

Godspeed young man and I wish you continued success! Somehow I have a strong feeling that you'll have more than Dutch Fork in your corner moving forward...

Kerry Fair II of SCPrepNation.com

Follow us on Twitter @SCPrepNation


SC Prep Nation Top Stories