From 1991 to 1994 I did some unofficial recruiting for Michigan here in Northern Ohio. Bob Chimel was the recruiting director and was a close friend and neighbor of my sister. She told him about me and where I lived and he asked me if I would check out some players Michigan had targeted on an informal basis. Because of NCAA rules I was restricted to watching games and talking to the friends of the players we were watching (back channel communication) but I knew the players we wanted here locally and I had a pretty good idea which way they were leaning on any given day. And that lean seemed to change, day to day in some cases, right up to signing day in February. So I learned to not get too excited over what the kids told us they were going to do until they actually had to sign something and make it official.
Because of that experience I have often wondered why there is such a high level of excitement over early recruiting commitments, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff right now. Early commits really didn't exist in the early 90's so I had no first hand experience in dealing with them but even in a completely stable coaching environment recruits say one thing and then do another because....well...their 17 year old kids and that's what 17 year old kids do. At best commitments made before the February signing period seem to be directional - "I'll PROBABLY go to school <fill in name on hat> next year but don't rush out and buy a jersey or anything because I still might change my mind".
Look at Hart for example or better yet Justice Hays as good examples. The board went nuts when Hart said he was going blue before the MSU game, had a meltdown when the rumor he was decommiting was floated and then sort of relaxed when it was proven to be false. Except Hart himself has said if RR goes, he goes - so what does his early commit really mean? Hays, on the other hand, goes Irish and they are overjoyed but then he changes his 17 year old mind, decommits and we party. And there's still 2.5 months left for him to change his mind again.
Tom V does an absolutely unbelievably good job of identifying the kids who are most likely going to sign with us and those that most likely aren't. I am VERY impressed with his ability to gain the confidence of the recruits and be one step ahead of seemingly every other official service in knowing what is probably going to happen. But I would ask that everyone take a deep breath and remember that with CC in discussion it is very likely that recruits we think we are getting will go elsewhere if there is a change made and recruits we think we aren't getting might go blue if a new HC is brought in.