Recruiting is like a courtship

Recruiting is like a courtship

Football

Recruiting is like a courtship

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By Will Vandervort.

By Will Vandervort

Alright guys we have all been there, and you ladies, too, for that matter. You know, that moment when you meet that perfect someone and you want to be with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In those early stages of courtship, if you will, you put a few feelers out there to see if he or she likes you or is interested in you.  You might send them a text or two, call them and then maybe go get a cup of Joe or something.

If things are going well you invite them out to dinner and see where things go from there. If that goes well, then you go out for a second time or maybe even go over to their place or vice versa.

Eventually you are committed to each other and a relationship begins. From that point, it is up to both parties to continue to work at the relationship until they decide to take it a step further and either get married or go their separate ways.

Does this sound familiar? It should. It’s called recruiting.

“If they did not sign with you, then you know they are not truly committed,” Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney said last month. “They just like you a lot.”

Swinney, like a lot of football coaches across the country, would really like to shorten the courtship with some of the nation’s top recruits by having two signing days, which basketball and baseball are allowed to do.

The Clemson coach would like to have an early signing day in October for those that are truly committed about going to the college of their choice. Then, he would like to have a second one in February for the guys that are still undecided.

“The ones who are truly committed will sign,” Swinney said. “Those who don’t sign, then you know they are not committed so you better go start recruiting. In my opinion, that’s the way it should be.”

Right now, basketball has an early signing day in November and then a second one that starts on April 15 and runs through May 31. Baseball does it the second Wednesday in November and then again on April 15 through the start of fall classes.

These extra few months, allow the schools, the players and the coaches the luxury of truly knowing what is best for all parties involved without having to go through all the “garbage” as Swinney calls it that football goes through.

“They (the players) know what they want to do,” he said. “Then they don’t have to worry about someone always trying to call them.”

This was the case for former Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. After giving his commitment to Clemson in the summer prior to his senior year at Daniel High School—a decision he made because he wanted to enjoy his senior year without all the distractions—the phone calls and letters never stopped.

It got so bad that other schools were calling Hopkins’ high school coach trying to get him to pass along messages to Hopkins.

Heading into National Signing Day on Wednesday, Clemson has 18 committed student athletes that have given their word that they will sign their Letters-of-Intent (LOI) and will become Tigers. Four of those 18—Jadar Johnson, Jordan Leggett, Ebenezer Ogundeko, and Shaq Lawson—are already on campus.  If football had an early signing period, like basketball and baseball, Clemson would have already had those players LOIs in hand and could focus their attention exclusively on the kids that are unsure of what they want to do.

For the players that signed, they could just concentrate on their school work and enjoy their last year of high school like the rest of their friends.

“That would protect the school, cut out a lot of wasted time and money, and it protects the student athlete if there was a change in their situation,” Swinney said. “The players should be protected. Let’s say they fire the coach or he packs up and leaves, then the LOI they signed in October is null and void. They continue to be recruited and can be signed on February’s signing day. What would be the difference?”

It would protect the coaches and the schools from situations that happened to Clemson, like when defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, wide receiver Ryan Jenkins and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson all de-committed and dropped Clemson completely from their list.

Jenkins’ and Robinson’s decisions, because they came much later, hurt Clemson more than Nkemdiche’s did. Clemson has a need to fill at wide receiver and their decisions left Clemson scrambling to find replacements.

“All of this early commitment stuff, it will either be real or not,” Swinney said. “It would be true commitments and not reservations.”

In other words, Jenkins and Robinson quite possibly might have signed with Clemson if there was an early signing period, and the doubt that somehow crept in their mind in December and January, would not have had a chance to because their recruiting process would have been over and no other school would be able to contact them.

There could be more high school athletes dropping their commitments in the future. Thanks to new NCAA recruiting rules, which were passed last week, college coaches will now have unlimited opportunities to make phone calls to a recruit during designated times they are allowed to talk to them.

Right now, coaches are only allowed one phone call during those designated times. The new rules go into place in August.

“Even when a kid says he is not interested, people still call him,” Swinney said.  “That kind of stuff, it will be over… It’s a win-win scenario.”

If there was an early signing period, how will a coach know which student –athlete might sign early and who might need to be recruited? Swinney says there is a big difference between a player that is committed to a school and one that is being recruited.

“You might be the leader. That’s what’s called recruiting. That’s not commitment,” he said. “There is a whole different deal there. If a guy gets hurt, we are still going to sign him. We are committed to him. You are not going to hear me call up a guy on signing day and say, ‘Oh, I found somebody better.’ It’s not going to happen. When we take a guy’s commitment, we are committed to them.”

Usually a school will have all of its commitments for the upcoming class filled in by May, and Clemson, with the exception of one or two here or there, has been good about doing that. Not this year, however, because of the defections of a few, plus some attrition, Clemson goes into National Signing Day hoping to sign an additional five to six more players to the 18 that are already committed.

“This has been an unusual year for us, and I don’t know why,” Swinney said.

Just imagine if there was an early signing period in college football, what would Clemson’s star power look like on that day compared to what it might look like on Wednesday?

During the courtship, you only have so long to impress someone. If you wait too long, you just might lose them to someone else. Don’t you wish sometimes you could have moved faster? It’s definitely something to think about.

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