One of the areas that I have talked about in the recruiting process is decommitting and how it can hurt a recruiting class for college coaches. Regardless of if you are a recruit or a parent, I think with any avenue in life, it is essential that you keep your word. So if you are going to commit to a school, unless there is a major change in the coaching staff, then try to stick by a commitment.
And while I can complain about athletes doing this all of the time and leaving college programs in a bind, the problem is that this is definitely a two way street. What makes me so concerned about a college doing this to an athlete is that while they probably didn’t burn the bridges at the other schools recruiting them (Well, at least I hope not), colleges only need a certain number of athletes at each position. If you have committed to a school, then chances are good that other schools will likely back off. And so this article is about the college changing their mind about bringing you in on a scholarship.
The best way to avoid having your scholarship pulled before you even sign your Letter of Intent is to have a good season, avoid injury, stay out of trouble, and communicate constantly with the coaching staff. Some schools have been known to pull scholarship from athletes that have committed to them but are visiting other college programs.
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Last spring, a lineman had pledged an early commitment to a school in the Midwest. This recruit was thrilled with what their head coach was doing and hoped to be a part of that success. He didn’t make any other visits and was not looking at any other schools. Although he was an out of state prospect, he planned on playing his college football there.
In January, this recruit finally took his official to the school and had a chance to see things a little closer. While he seemed happy with what they had to offer, the coaching staff decided to drop a bomb on him. What they told him is that instead of bringing him in with the Class of 2012, they were going to grayshirt him and bring him in during the second semester (For those who do not know what a grayshirt is, click here now).
The question I want to know is did the coaches really think that this recruit would not be angry? They had promised him a scholarship months and months before but basically they told him they were pulling it away from him. Even with it being so late in the recruiting process, the athlete informed Rivals.com to get the word out that a three star lineman was back on the market. A few doors opened up and he was able to get a scholarship for college.
Obviously that case turned out well. But what happens if the athlete was a fringe Division I prospect? Would other schools really come calling? This is a perfect example as to why you should never burn the bridges with the schools recruiting you. In any case, you just never know what can happen or what coach you will run into down the road.
Two other stories relating to this as well. The first is from a prospect who was expected to sign this winter as well for football. He actually tore his ACL in the second football game of the season after having committed to the school during the summer. These coaches decided to grayshirt him so that he would have extra time to recover. Yes, the prospect could have been mad about the situation. But he felt that it would help him by giving him that extra time to recover and develop into a Division I lineman. It definitely would have been interesting if he had not gotten hurt and they tried pulling some similar.
Another athlete a few years back had committed to a school during the summer. After the college football season, the coaching staff that had offered him was fired. The school hired a head coach from out of state who was not happy with the current recruiting class. So instead of taking him at tight end, the coaching staff threw him a few different curve balls. The first was that they wanted to move him to the center position. This recruit was a pretty good athlete and had never been a lineman in his life. He knew he would also have to put on like eighty pounds and was not looking forward to it.
The coaches also were going to grayshirt and then redshirt him. Instead of being in the Class of 2009, he would be in the Class of 2011. And while athletics is very important at the college level, would he really want to go to school for six years at least? It may not shock you but he ended up changing his mind.
Here are just a few examples of schools turning their backs on plays committed. Until that Letter of Intent is signed, they can do that so be careful in the recruiting process!
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