Coach says Roquan Smith will NOT sign any NLI

Submitted by Doughboy1917 on February 10th, 2015 at 2:08 AM

Per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Roquan Smith's high school coach says the player will not sign an NLI for any school.  He will simply enroll in classes this summer at his school of choice.

After almost getting burned on signing day, Roquan Smith has decided against signing a national letter of intent (NLI, or commonly called LOI) when he finalizes his college decision, according to his high school coach.

Macon County coach Larry Harold told the AJC on Monday that Smith now has “no timetable” on selecting a school, but that he “doesn’t expect it to drag out too much longer” with his star player.

Perhaps most significant, Smith’s coach also revealed that the linebacker won’t be signing a letter of intent after finalizing his college plans. Smith will commit, and then officially be a signee on his first day of summer classes.

The article also says Smith is still consdering Michigan and will choose between Michigan, Georgia, TAMU and UCLA.



February 10th, 2015 at 10:09 AM ^

If I'm going to bother making a prediction, I'm not going to simply ape the prevailing wishful thinking, which is the modus operandi for all fan bases. A good percentage of the prediction-making around here is the functional equivalent of 8-year olds fantasizing about their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, and to them I'm the Grinch.

It's hard enough to get elite prospects from the deep South to come north, and it's especially the case when your program has been struggling recently. On top of that, look at the Smith situation in particular: you know that the Georgia program had to have been hugely disappointed that he was going to commit to UCLA, and it's very likely that there were plenty of people in Smith's home town and circle of friends and family who would have preferred him to play at Georgia because they're Dawg fans themselves and/or wanted the chance to see him play in Athens and in other SEC stadiums. It was the Georgia staff that alerted the Smith camp about the impending departure of the UCLA coach who recruited him, and it would be surprising to me if they're not now saying to Smith and his family, "See, we've proven that we've got your back: we did you a solid, so return the favor and commit to the program that's really honest with you." I think that would be a hard thing for Smith to turn down at this point. If he still spurns Georgia, I'd guess it would be for TA&M since he's still be playing most of his games in the South. It's a 3- to 7-hour drive from his home town of Montezuma, GA to Gaineville, Knoxville, Tuscaloosa, Columbia, Starkville, or Baton Rouge. If he's playing for UCLA or Michigan, the only way they're seeing him play is either on TV or with an expensive flight north or west or a 12+ hour drive. Not everybody has the dough for plane fare, compared to a couple tanks of gas for the car.

If Durkin and Harbaugh are successful in getting that done I'll be the first to say I was wrong, and I'll be very happy if I have to do that.

oriental andrew

February 10th, 2015 at 11:38 AM ^

UGA's official colors are actually Red and Black. Being born and raised in Atlanta, and Herschel Walker winning the MNC and Heisman during my formative years, I still have a special spot for the Dawgs.

But point well taken. Seems like UGA is the front-runner, although some UGA bloggers seem to think he has less love for the Bulldogs than you'd think. 


February 10th, 2015 at 1:49 PM ^

I think most on this site all agree that for most highly touted recruits signing a LOI is a bad, one-sided deal. I think Brian (and Ace, Seth,et al) have detailed that all a player who KNOWS they'll always have a spot waiting at virtually any school they decide to play for has to do is apply for some sort of Financial Aid and not commit to anything. I think that's great for the players, and when Michigan football is back among the elite programs in the nation I'll be just fine with it...,

BUT, since in the past decade we have needed top players a LOT more than they've needed us, I'm gonna be a bit selfish here and say whatever's good for Roquan is NOT more important to ME than what's best for Michigan.

Sorry, neg away, but that's how I feel...


February 10th, 2015 at 2:48 AM ^

I'd like to see the NLI revised so it isn't so unfair to recruits. Schools need a way to plan for incoming recruits and the recruits need some guarantees from schools.  

Just thinking about it makes me realize how bad the current recruiting/scholarship system is. The NCAA needs to trash it all and start over. Get rid of oversigning, mandate four-year scholarships (with exceptions for criminal behavior, academic failures, etc) and, basically, give student athletes more control over their lives.


Blue Since B.C.

February 10th, 2015 at 10:20 AM ^

This is great.  I hope this is the start of the dismantling of the NLI process.  Unless of course the NCAA is going to start making COACHES sign an NLI instead, which would be fun.

If you want to transfer to another job but have already signed an NLI, you are forced to sit out a year from coaching, and your punishment is to broadcast games with Dan Dakich for a year.  Like the color commentator's color commentator. 


February 10th, 2015 at 2:18 PM ^

See I think what needs to be trashed here is the NCAA - it's a pathetic organization that exists at the whim of the members it governs. And when those members decide they don't care what it says and thumb their nose at it, it ceases to have any authority. (See Miami (Fla) & Nevin Shapiro).

Another example of this in sports is the office of Baseball Commisioner. Once the owners decided that an independant governor dictating operating parameters to them no longer met their needs, they fired him and changed the job description.

When Mitch McGary, who passionately loved playing college sports and wanted to continue, is forced from inter-collegiate athletics by the NCAA, while they stand impotently by as Miami ignores them, the system is irrevocably broken. To me anyway... LOI are really among the least of my concens.

I know Trojans who are furious at their AD for not just doing what Miami did and calling the NCAA on their true power. They're not furious at Bush and Mayo for disgracing their academic institution, nor at Pete Carroll & Tim Floyd for ignoring it, they're pissed that SC rolled over and accepted ANY penalties.

That's a system broken far beyond whether signing a LOI is bad.



February 10th, 2015 at 8:56 AM ^

I think the LOI needs some changing to be more fair to the athletes, but I'm not sure why you'd hope this is the first domino.  Think how frustrated we are every time a kid flips.  This would mean a lot more flipping.  It needs to be adjusted, but at the same time there comes a point where schools need to be able to count on a kid honoring their commitment too.  We can't have commitment changes without penalty all the way up until you step on campus.  I'm not sure what the answer is, maybe a clause that lets kids out if a coach changes jobs or is fired.  The athlete has all the power until he signs, then the school/coach has all the power.  There needs to be an adjustment, but I personally don't hope every kid stops signing.  If we think recruiting is stressful and drama ridden now imagine if the process continued all the way through the summer.


February 10th, 2015 at 3:15 AM ^

I hope they're right and this doesn't drag out too much longer, because whoever's currently been promised Smith's scholarship deserves the chance to make other plans.

The problem with this sort of thing is that it guarantees oversigning. There's nothing the school can do to avoid it, short of telling the late-committing player he's no longer wanted because he waited too long. That would be honorable; it's also very unlikely.


February 10th, 2015 at 6:37 AM ^

current class. Oversigning happens now.

The biggest problem I see is for the guy at the bottom of the list for a large school who has to decide whether to wait for his position for one school or take another offer that he may not like as much. The other problem is the differing school years which means the date for the financial aid packages is going to be different. Having a set date helps in that date but the current system needs to be rrevised to be more fair for the student.


February 10th, 2015 at 8:54 AM ^

Extending the recruiting season puts the guys at the bottom of the list in a worse spot, and especially so if you happen to have committed to a school with a late calendar.

Oversigning now is a choice, and recruits concerned about it have the option of avoiding the worst offenders. Without a fixed, common closing date for recruiting it would be universal, built into the system by design.

I don't think that's an improvement. I'm not defending the current system, just pointing out the need for some system.


February 10th, 2015 at 9:54 AM ^

Maybe Waveman's post below put it better than I did, but if you don't see the problems this can cause for lower-tier recruits I don't know what to say. If you don't care about the problems this can cause for lower-tier recruits I really don't know what to say.

Intended or not, the effect of this is exactly the same as oversigning. I want the oversigning problem addressed; whatever the solution is going to be, it has to include some mechanism to allow programs to know who their 85 are in advance. The 85th guy deserves that.


February 10th, 2015 at 7:45 AM ^

And that will have zero to do with his decision.

If you read the OP he will make a decision shortly and just enroll this summer wherever that is.  He is not picking the next 4-5 years of his life based on whose summer semester begins first.  And it doesn't affect his timetable either. 


February 10th, 2015 at 8:51 AM ^

I think his comment was more towards a date when we'll definitively know what Smith's decision is ... don't think he was trying to imply that earlier classes would help Michigan.

 I wouldn't blame Smith for being over this entire thing and going radio silent until he showed up to classes in the summer (obviously even then, he would tell the school itself as soon as he knew). 


February 10th, 2015 at 6:44 AM ^

He’s not going to sign a letter of intent,” Harold said. “The reason why is because what he went through last week. This just gives us flexibility in case something else unexpectedly happens again.”

I'll be honest - until the NCAA reforms this process and makes it much more mindful of the athletes themselves, I hope this becomes a trend and more recruits decide not to sign an LOI. It would be interesting to see if a school actually balks at the thought and what their reasoning for not accepting that would be. 


February 10th, 2015 at 10:10 AM ^

but it is taking the program and its players with them as opposed to abandoning them the day after they sign. Hope we do see Roquan on campus.

Whether this becomes a trend and whether it contributes to some sorting out issue in terms of NLI contracting of recruits, the fact is student-athletes are never under any obligation to acknowledge their school choice until April 15, the federal tax filing deadline.

And that is one way to avoid the pressure of signing without worrying about any other issues. Terrelle Pryor's recruitment extended well after signing day before he named Ohio as his final choice. He was obviously in the same pool of interest as Smith is with almost as many suitors including Michigan.

If a top 100 players doesn't sign right away, schools aren't going to turn them away because of it no matter how many scholarships they have left. And as has been pointed out, schools aren't required to officially document the total available for cap accounting until after fall practice starts, anyway. So, really the issue of oversigning is always boing to be a balancing act when and if it ever is addressed specifically with strict deadlining for hard caps or creation of an early signing period that would prevent less creative accounting.

As far as signing and transfer rules go, they are written and enforced to benefit the schools and the NCAA didn't write them. They only enforce them. They were written and designed by members of the NCAA, which are the all the schools under its watch and banner. The NCAA is the police force, not the legislature and it doesn't have police powers. It has regulatory authority granted it under the bylaws approved by its members and university presidents.

If Mark Schissel wants to alter the landscape of college sports and reformrecruiting, he now has the opportunity and stage to do so. At the very least, high school coaches and officials ought to do more than set up hat ceremonies for recruits leaving their campus for the great unknown by providing the kind of background information kids need before signing day arrives instead of whistling in the wind about recruitng being unfair.

They can certainly recommend the kids wait before deciding and giving the legal information needed to make the right choice, short of the university world taking an about-face look at the subject, which is less likely.


February 10th, 2015 at 8:11 AM ^

The optimist in me wants to believe that this is the first small step in pushing the NCAA to reform and require programs to be more fair and ethical in their treatment of recruits.

I want to believe that but this will probably just be a minor footnote in the history of college football, with nothing really changing.


February 10th, 2015 at 8:14 AM ^

This kid is something special. I am sure this decision has much to do with timing and Andy Staple's article, but I am sure UCLA et al., have been pressuring him (through his coach, presumalbly) to sign the dang LOI. Cheers to him for having the determination to clear his own path.  I also hope this reaction to the process becomes a trend.  I will be a fan of Roquan's regardless of which school he chooses to attend.