but didn't realize he'd signed with Syracuse. What are the odds he will transfer at some point?
Recruitin' Mailbag: On "The Policy" And Its Benefits
Dymonte Thomas (L) and Jourdan Lewis (R) both committed before receiving coveted offers.
It's been a long time since I did one of these, and after the Shaun Crawford decommitment the topic of discussion is Michigan's very simple policy: if a commit takes visits, the coaches will continue recruiting for that spot, and while they'll continue recruiting the prospect taking visits they'll no longer consider him a commit.
At this point, the policy itself is clear to the point that its particulars aren't up for debate. Its merits, on the other hand, have been questioned. Here's a great question that helps show why it works:
Two part question:
Have there been any Michigan signees that come to mind who benefited the most from the policy being in place? A guy who was locked in early before he blew up regionally or nationally and it kept him in Michigan’s camp maybe? Or a guy, maybe like Peppers, who by committing and not looking around was solely focused on his senior year and helping the recruiting effort.
And on the flip side can you think of a couple of specific names (not including Dawson and the guys who have decommitted this year) who were probably scared away by it and may otherwise have ended up in a Michigan class had it not been for the coach staffs visit rules?
Jabrill Peppers is a nice example to start with, as he considered taking visits a couple months before Signing Day, then reaffirmed his pledge after taking his official visit to Michigan and talking with both the coaches and his family. Who knows what would've happened if Brady Hoke had allowed him to remain committed and visit, say, Alabama? At best, it would've bothered a lot of the other commits. At worst, Peppers would've ended up in Crimson.
Two other current U-M defensive backs come to mind when answering the first part of the question. Dymonte Thomas committed nearly a year-and-a-half before signing his LOI; at the time, the Alliance, Ohio product didn't hold an Ohio State offer, which befuddled Buckeye recruitniks. Even though Thomas' cousin, Bri'onte Dunn, committed to OSU in the interim, when Urban Meyer extended an offer two months later Thomas laughed it off on Twitter. He'd committed, end of story, and he knew what a commitment to Michigan entailed—no trips to check out Columbus and see if he'd want to play with his cousin, something they'd discussed before their respective commitments.
There's also Jourdan Lewis, who eventually became an Army All-American but held this list of offers when he pledged during The Greatest Mid-February Weekend In The History Of Mid-February Weekends: Michigan and Toledo. That's it. Other schools tried to enter the fray, but Lewis remained firm in his pledge—again, in part because he knew the consequences if he started looking around. All he had to do was ask his teammate, David Dawson, the shining example of how the Damien Harris situation can still work out in Michigan's favor.
As for the flip side, there have been multiple prospects in recent years who very nearly committed to U-M while on visits, and in retrospect it's clear the policy helped avoid an eventual decommitment. Malik McDowell immediately comes to mind, as does Artavis Scott. If McDowell had committed, his journey to East Lansing—and I believe he'd have ended up there regardless—would've had even more twists and turns. Same goes for Scott, who took to Clemson's overtures so quickly it's difficult to imagine a Michigan pledge would've stuck.
The best example of the policy avoiding a major issue, however, is a prospect who did at one point commit to U-M: 2014 OT Denzel Ward. His recruitment requires bullet points:
- Committed to Michigan in October 2012, a week after receiving the U-M offer, his best to date. By the first week of January, he'd also hold offers from Arizona State, Florida, and Ohio State.
- Took an unofficial visit to Florida in January 2013 without informing the coaches; at this time, he also transferred high schools from the Chicago area to the IMG Academy in Florida, which also came as a surprise to Michigan's staff.
- Shortly thereafter, Michigan told Ward he was no longer a commit, and due to the lack of communication with the coaches they didn't plan to pursue him again.
- Ward named Florida as his leader in March. He picked up an Oklahoma offer around that time.
- Despite an impressive offer sheet, Ward committed to Purdue in June.
- Three days after an official visit to USF, Ward decommitted from Purdue in December.
- Less than a week after taking his final official visit to Syracuse, Ward committed to the Orange and signed his LOI.
When Michigan recognized Ward was a serious flight risk, they broke things off, and eventually replaced him in the class with a higher-rated, UA All-American tackle in Juwann Bushell-Beatty. If I had to guess whether JBB lasts longer at Michigan or Ward at Syracuse... well, I bet you can guess my answer.
This was going to be a full mailbag, but I got pretty wordy on this one, so I'll answer the rest of the questions in a separate post tomorrow.
The paperwork is probably already in the works. He just can't sit still.
I saw Ward at an Under Armour combine in St. Pete at the end of his junior year and the kid was a total jackass. Real sour attitude, thought he was better than everyone else (he clearly wasn't), and mouthy with the other recruits and coaches on hand. Couldn't have been happier when he decommitted.
I like Coach Hoke's recruiting policy on verbal commits. The recruit needs to think things through and be sure before they make a commitment. Otherwise, kids will commit just to reserve a place until something better comes along..
I like it too. I think it's ridiculous that people are getting upset when a 17/18 kids change their minds. What do you expect these kids they haven't even figured out there lives yet or who they really are. Hail to the victors.
Thanks for making this more clear, Ace. It always felt pretty common-sense to me, but it is nice to see some actual examples of where it worked in UM's favor and where it probably saved everyone from additional headaches even if it meant a recruit didn't wind up in A2.
I don't understand why people seem to get upset about this every single time there are rumors a commit may visit elsewhere. It seems pretty simple to me - Michigan is saying, "If you look around for contingency plans, so will we." It makes perfect sense - what is there to get upset about?
Its pretty easy to see why people get pissed about this. Its the same as seeing your girlfriend/wife start to check out other guys. No one likes that kind of thing, and when its happening, there's very little you can do to stop it. So if a committed recruit is starting to look around, no one likes that and people start to blame everything they can for getting dumped.
and as we all learned from the Ward fiasco, to use the girlfriend analogy, no matter how hot she is...some guy, somewhere, is sick of her shit.
This analogy doesnt work. It's akin to thinking you wouldnt get dumped/cheated on if you just let her sleep around. Which is a pretty ridiculous thing to think; it's a good policy.
"there have been multiple prospects in recent years who very nearly committed to U-M while on visits, and in retrospect it's clear the policy helped avoid an eventual decommitment."
You then cite Malik McDowell. He conducted himself well throughout the process (excluding his foolish final decision). Nothing that he did indicates that he would have been unfaithful to a commitment.
...at one point during McDowell's recruitment that he was on the verge of a commitment, to the point that there's a Hello post draft saved somewhere that'll never see the light of day. It's clear after everything that went down that when all was said and done he preferred Michigan State, and his parents were the ones pushing for a Michigan commitment. I'm not saying McDowell wouldn't stick to his pledge—in fact, he stuck to his guns even in the face of enormous public and private pressure from his parents once he decided he wanted to go to MSU.
My statement is simply that, with all else being the same, I believe McDowell would've ended up at MSU whether or not he'd have committed to Michigan at one point. The fact that he didn't is a testament to his will to go to the school he really wanted to go to, not the one his parents wanted him to choose. I find that admirable. What's in the post is a hypothetical, nothing more.
Wasn't it Malik that wanted to commit to Michigan originally but his parents told him to look around? That always struck me as strange given the way his recruitment ended.
otherwise how can you get "trustworthy" info about an event that didn't happen and from the looks of things was never going to? Also, you say everything in the post is hypothetical but you list it as working out in Michigan's favor. How can a hypothetical non event work out in anyones favor??? Something doesn't make sense
...was that McDowell was near to commiting. How doesn't that make sense? Also, his hypo was one in which McDowell chooses Michigan but then later backs out b/c he always wanted to go to MSU. How does that also not make sense?
Mr. McDowell always wanted to go to MSU but was going to commit to Michigan only to back out later due to Michigan's visit policy and not his STATED desire to go to State? THAT makes perfect sense!
McDowell was leaning towards State. He gets wowed by a Michigan visit, and decides to 'reserve a seat" at Michigan because Michigan is also close to closing on other guys at his position, so he commits to Michigan. Absent a policy on the matter, he can now continue to decide whether Michigan or MSU is best for him, while Michigan cannot proceed to further recruit his position.
This isn't as hard as you think to figure out. Just give it a try, and don't try to put any more words than necessary in it.
I didn't say it was hard to figure, I said it doesn't make sense because it doesn't. It makes absolutely no sense to belive that a person who showed through out his recruitment that he was thinking the process through to make the best decision in his mind would commit to a school only to decommit.
and their families... I think it's pretty easy for him to get insider information that Malik was very close to a visit.
I communicate daily with the principal and I have NO IDEA what she is going to pull in the next minute. So, no, communication does not equal reliable information.
"I'm not saying McDowell wouldn't stick to his pledge"
"My statement is simply that, with all else being the same, I believe McDowell would've ended up at MSU whether or not he'd have committed to Michigan at one point."
If he commits to Michigan and "stick[s] to his pledge," how does he end up at MSU? I can think of a few things, e.g., his grades are good enough for MSU but not UM, but none of them are related to the "policy." And all of them are extremely speculative, which makes his inclusion as an example seem to be an unwarranted assumption.
McDowell conducted himself with dignity and held off on committing until he was sure where he wanted to go. I don't question your insider info, but it doesn't support your position. He almost committed to UM, but he didn't, possibly because he wasn't prepared to stick to that commitment. Nothing in your post or your response suggests that he was ready to commit but decided not to because of the policy.
I don't think Malik McDowell is an example of "the policy help[ing] avoid an eventual decommitment."
Great to have perspective with real world examples looking at the issue. Well written, as always!
I had almost forgotten about Dymonte Thomas. We never heard from him after that punt block in the first game. He was a stud coming out of high school. Hopefully he and the coaches can figure out how to get him on the field and contributing this year.
The secondary could be absolutely sick next year.
pretty quite last year other than the first game. Hopefully he has a good year.
With only Delano Hill in front of him for the SS spot he should be a big time contributor for this years secondary. I think even if he doesn't start the season opener, he will produce and be the starter by conference play. He's a great athlete who will thrive with Wilson, Lewis Countess and Peppers manning the secondary. I am really excited to see what this group can do.
There's way too much of this to get into serious detail, and it's a really nice day anyway, but here's a short response:
Of course it's all hypothetical. The stated premise of the entire article was to use examples of things that could have happened if the policy had not been in place. I used the word 'hypothetical' in a comment above this; perhaps you missed it.
It's also informed by far more information than you seem to think; occasionally, you have to read between the lines, and perhaps consider the fact that, in three years of working and interacting closely with several recruiting reporters and a well-connected boss, I may be privy to information I can't just flat-out say in a post.
Another metric that would indicate it is working is if other programs adopt it.
To me, it is just common sense -- simple and straightforward -- if that is true, then more will follow. It's not hard to see it becoming the norm.
The cost of a false committment is that you tell other recruits that the position is filled, and they make other plans accordingly. They may not still be available when the verbal committment is cancelled. That's a cost a football team would like to avoid.
I honestly don't understand why this is so difficult to grasp. A verbal committment that is later lost is more harmful to recruiting than a non-committment that never becomes a committment.
I don't see any evidence that the policy hurts Michigan recruiting at all.
It certainly is, as you say, a matter of opinion. My objections are to those who insist it is a dumb policy, or is a policy which has no point. It has a point: Michigan is as committed to the players as they are to Michigan; no more, and no less.
As you note, it is a policy which sometimes has no effect on a recruit or on a recruitment.
The policy 'works' by letting the coaches know when someone is having serious enough second thoughts that they are willing to forfeit their position and thus the coaches know to start looking for a replacement. Without the policy you'd probably have the same amount of decommits but michigan would have less time to recruit replacements.
The one thing we don't really know, and can't know, is what flows the other way with this policy. What do the coaches tell the players about who they will continue to recruit? If a four star pledges, but the coaches continue to go after a five star for the same spot, or even another four star, why shouldn't the kid be able to look around as well? I think that may have been a factor with Crawford.
They weren't going after other cornerbacks until Crawford decided to take visits. Crawford decommitted because he's always really liked Notre Dame—they were the prohibitive favorite until Michigan offered and ND didn't until months later, after they'd changed defensive coordinators. Just because Michigan commits don't take visits doesn't mean other coaches stop recruiting them...
I will certainly defer to You, Ace, on Crawford. I just wonder about how our coaches keep up their side of the bargain viz-a-vis other high top recruits from the same position as one we currently have filled. For example, if a higher rated QB than Malzone wants to visit, say one of the Californians, what do the coaches say?
To use a real-life example, they told four-star linebackers Alex Anzalone and Shane Jones not to visit once they knew Ben Gedeon was going to commit. I'd dig up a link, but that one's relatively common knowledge.
If one of the Cali QBs wanted to visit, it's too late—the coaches offered them early, tried to get them on campus (and did, in the case of Josh Rosen), and the outlook wasn't good for landing any of them, so they moved on. If the coaches didn't feel comfortable with Malzone as the quarterback in the class, they wouldn't have offered him.
It's a dumb policy IMO. Makes us look second tier as if we have something to hide. When we're winning though, he gets away with it.
So you're fine with your fiancée telling you six months before the wedding that she's going to date other guys just to make sure she really wants to marry you, including the guy she almost got engaged to before she met you. And you're going to say "That's fine, I'll wait around and be faithful while you bang everything in sight. I've got nothing to hide."
What a nice guy you are.
I think you just hit the nail on the head with that analogy. I've never thought of it that way.
I can't tell if you're being sarcastic, but I'm far from the only person who's made this analogy about this facet of recruiting. It's an apt analogy too—verbal commitment = engagement; Signing LOI = getting married.
It's amazing that there are those who just can't —or won't—grasp the logic of Hoke's policy, but then there are people who are convinced we didn't actually send men to the moon, too.
No way. That's great.
WE LANDED ON THE MOON!
Your comment makes no sense. What would Michigan have "to hide?" The policy makes perfect sense to a recruit: if the recruit is committed to the school, the school is committed to the recruit. If the recruit isn't committed to the school (as demstrated by continuing to visit other schools) then the school isn't committed to the recruit (and may take someone else for that position). In a way, this is a much stronger statement of committment to a recruit than a more vague and permissive policy would be, because the recruit would realize that the school isn't any more serious about its committment to him that it expects the recruit to be about his to the school.
Not understanding the benefits of the policy is one thing; misunderstanding them to the point that one thinks the policy is "dumb" is just... wow.