This wasn’t meant to be the second of a two-part series of columns, but sometimes events coincide with a topic so closely that a follow-up becomes unavoidable.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the profound and, in some ways, unanticipated changes that the December signing date in college football had wrought upon recruiting since the new rule went into effect. The premise was that, because much of the boots-on-the-ground work of recruiting, which used to come after high school players had finished their senior seasons, now comes in the summer — that June, in effect, is the new January, or at least what January used to be.
As the month has continued, that has played out in more than one way at Alabama. The Crimson Tide has added recruits and, in a few instances, has had previously committed players, including a couple from in-state, de-commit as well. When that happens, social media — constructed largely to have a quick-hit headline — will usually frame the story as “Alabama loses four-star recruit,” or, especially, “Alabama loses in-state recruit.” But every recruiting story is different, and the new earlier signing period has made it more so.
For one thing, it has accelerated the pace at which assistant coaches (and head coaches, for that matter) have to work. June used to be a time when a college coach would study opponents for the upcoming season, maybe even squeeze in a week or so of family vacation. Not anymore. The pace is accelerated on the coaching end, which contributes to acceleration on the player’s end. In many cases, the player hasn’t even been to camp. Sometimes, it may just be that a coaching staff, Alabama or otherwise, sees a prospect in camp who might meet their needs (or exceed their expectations.)
On top of that, players still have an entire fall ahead of them and many of those players — even if they have committed — want to go to games, on official visits or unofficial visits, on other campuses. There is nothing nefarious about that. Alabama hosts its fair share of prospects who have committed to other schools and, more often than not, they wind up flipping a couple. In the past, Nick Saban has referred to this as “we shop, you shop.” Now, there is even more time to shop between peak recruiting time and signing day. One wonders when someone somewhere will suggest a September signing period.
Then there is a publicity factor. Committing is a way to get attention, and for some prospects, committing twice means getting attention twice. Other times, prospects simply feel that the relationship is cooling off, and sometimes, the offer is highly conditional, if it is committable at all, which can lead to “false flagging.”
One note — none of this refers specifically to either De’Rickey Wright of Gadsden, who de-committed from Alabama a few weeks ago and committed to Ole Miss earlier this weekend, or Dazalin Worsham, the Hewitt-Trussville wide receiver who had been committed for a year but backed off on Tuesday after visiting Miami last weekend.
I am not in the evaluation end of the recruiting business and can’t say if Alabama is recruiting better players. On the other hand, it’s a certainty that Alabama is still recruiting good players, and lots of them. It’s more a matter of deciding who has a valid invitation to the party in December, and not a case of worrying that no one will show up.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.