Do early recruiting commits really matter?

Submitted by mGrowOld on December 12th, 2010 at 10:03 AM

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. 

Comments

Princetonwolverine

December 12th, 2010 at 10:33 AM ^

You write that Dee Hart said he would not come here if RR goes. Do we know he actually said any such thing? TomVH has not been able to confirm that.  Just because the Orlando newspaper reported it means nothing. They also reported he was a heavy Bama lean just before he announced for us.

Newspapers are not always accurate - go figure.

DGDestroys

December 12th, 2010 at 10:49 AM ^

They reported he was a heavy Bama lean because it was directly from Dee's mouth, and he was just doing that to mess around with people. Could he be doing this to mess around with people? Certainly, but I don't think we should throw the reporter's credibility down the drain because the kid was having fun. 

mGrowOld

December 12th, 2010 at 10:50 AM ^

Good point - what I should've have written is "Hart allegedly will not come if RR is let go".  I believe you are correct that he hasn't spoken yet on the subject.  It doesn't change my core point though that Hart, despite his early "I'm going blue" announcement is far from a certainty until the NSD.

ohio-michiganfan

December 12th, 2010 at 12:06 PM ^

Princetonwolverine replied to the first post in the thread so that his post is up at the top when you click on this topic.  It bugs the crap out of me when I am reading and I go down and this stuff is out of order. His reply had nothing to do with the first post.

LB

December 12th, 2010 at 10:12 AM ^

might have is feeding the herd instinct. "oh look, so-and-so is going to Michigan, I should look there". The melt ups, or melt downs honestly make me crazy, and I believe it only fuels the hype and tripe that is spewed by the media. After a 17 year old is affected by all of it, then we can bad-mouth him, of course. Welcome to 2010, it is par for the course, as is accusing honorable men of having a pimp-hand. I refuse to get excited until Tom VH tells me I can get excited.

DGDestroys

December 12th, 2010 at 10:13 AM ^

It's just high school kids we're talking about here. When I was 17 I couldn't pick between Coke and Pepsi (as if the choice isn't obvious), I think it's understandable that these kids are indecisive. You make a very good point, but the offseason is long. If we don't get excited about these kids, what else do we have to do? Talk about NSFW threads?

mGrowOld

December 12th, 2010 at 10:16 AM ^

But doesnt most of the recruiting talk happen DURING the season, not after it?  If so I would be 100% in support of idle gossip and rumor mongering because after all - that's what the internets are for.

Speaking of NSFW though - what in the hell happened last night?  I saw 302 responses and couldn't wait to read them and they were gone.  Damn that must've been epic given the OP subject matter.

Bull - Red cape.  Waive it!!!!

DGDestroys

December 12th, 2010 at 10:20 AM ^

I'd say it's more of an equal distribution, it just picks up steam as the season goes on. After NSD, there's a sort of down time as the next class' recruiting rankings goes up, but it's there nonetheless. December/January/Early February are probably the most intense months, but then you get a lot of speculation, evaluation, early commitments, and camps in the following months. 

And it was somewhat epic, and then people started getting a little out of control, and PaulVB cleaned it up. 

Zone Left

December 12th, 2010 at 10:27 AM ^

Early commits are like commitments to a girlfriend/wife. As fans, we think they are committing to marry a beautiful, rich, cool woman. They think they are committing to a beautiful, rich, cool girlfriend--but there are 30 of them vying to sleep with them every week. You can't blame a 17 year-old for playing the field, as it were.

Irish

December 12th, 2010 at 10:55 AM ^

They matter and are very important its not all good or bad obviously

Early commits build your class.  If you can get the right one or two they will build your class as much as the coaches themselves.  Clausen, Cave, and Grace, in this class, were/are all great recruiters for that particular ND class.  Getting to know other recruits, giving them someone to talk to, and wanting to add them to the class are big contributions.  Getting a leader early can be huge for the class.

Early commits also give you early momentum for unofficial visits, the more people committed means more players are talking to other recruits at camps and practices.  And the higher ranked the more other recruits will listen.  Also the sooner they start to fill the class the sooner the staff can pull the, your going to lose your spot pitch which can be very convincing.

The bad is of course the chance of decommits and the sooner they commit, the more time they have to decommit.  Coaching changes are a big trigger of it every year as you know.  Poor seasons can do the same thing, really a team shows any kind of weakness and it can sour a recruit, plus you add a few words from another school......  

Tater

December 12th, 2010 at 11:27 AM ^

This are obviously approximations and don't account for larger classes or smaller ones, but I think I'm somewhere in the ballpark.  There are about twenty commits a year.  Out of those, I would say at least fifteen are early.  Out of those fifteen, maybe one to four decommit.  So, about seventy or so percent of early commits actually go to the schools to which they commit.

I would say that matters. 

moffle

December 12th, 2010 at 2:03 PM ^

This is exactly what I was going to say.  Whenever there's a decommit people act is if commitments are worth nothing until signing day.  But the vast majority of recruits who make a verbal commitment to a school stick with it.  

We've had 12 commitments this year (I'm not counting Conway because that's a different issue) and have lost one, with another one shaky.  That's about 8% (with potential to be 17% depending on what Hart ends up doing), in spite of the coaching uncertainty.  If you consider a program with a bit more stability I expect the number would be even less.  This is not a good argument for early commitments being meaningless.  They are not the final word, but they are reasonably reliable predictions.

phork

December 12th, 2010 at 12:28 PM ^

As previous posters above have stated, its good and bad.  Good in the respect that you might land some top guys that might help you recruit, even just by having their name next to your school.  Of course some take a more proactive approach and help in recruiting.

The bad, well, I think we all know about being burned on NSD last second shenanigans.  Let someone said up top, early commit is about as good as the paper its written on.  Kids are kids.

TSimpson77

December 12th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

I think kids should commit more to the school instead of the coach who could leave you high and dry. If you're a good player you can play in anyones scheme. A good coach will make the most of your talent. I understand that making a relationship with the coach is important, but once you're on campus you make friends pretty quick and your teammates become like family. JMO

El Jeffe

December 12th, 2010 at 1:12 PM ^

Not that you're doing this, but I'm constantly amazed by people who are chagrined that players seem to be committing to a coach and not a school. Of course players commit to a coach or coaches with whom they develop relationships. What is wrong with that?

This leads me to two other thoughts: first, I don't think anyone should discount the effect of a CC if it happens on our commitments. I could see the current class decimated by a CC. Now, it is true that a new coach would bring new commits, but we shouldn't be surprised if Dee and a few others drop us. That's just the way it goes.

Second, this is why I simultaneously believe that the cupboard was bare when RR took over and that it wasn't Lloyd's fault. RR was a new coach with a new style and a new attitude, and that rubbed some people who had committed to LC the wrong way. That's just the way it goes.

So, this is why I am so in favor of RR's getting another year at least. I think a new coach will really shake up what we currently have (and it won't be his fault--it'll be built into the process), and because I believe the transition between LC and RR was so stark that it was basically a total reboot of the program. No, it didn't have to be done that way, but once RR was hired, it was basically unavoidable.

TSimpson77

December 12th, 2010 at 1:28 PM ^

Yeah not saying there is anything wrong with building a relationship with a coach, it definately makes things easier.
There definately was a huge difference in LC and RR transition than there is and was at other schools and I commend those players that stayed through it. They truly showed me that they were committed to the school.

Mr Miggle

December 12th, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

Just look at the QBs here. Mallett was perfect for Carr's offense, a misfit for RR's. The reverse is true for Denard. How would you like to be one of multiple slots or fullbacks for a new offense that rarely employs them? Maybe some players can fit into any system, but many don't.

jmblue

December 12th, 2010 at 3:12 PM ^

They can matter if they're sincere.  A committed player can act as an extra recruiter.  The classic example was Drew Henson committing early, and then helping to sway David Terrell and Marquise Walker here.

Born Blue

December 12th, 2010 at 3:56 PM ^

Up front, they really don't matter, and that's why I appreciate the original post!  All of this has morphed over time to become something it is, but did not used to be!  It, does however have an upside...the herd mentality.   if I am allowed to bring up the Fab Five, <he ducks mometarily> one of the reasons it all happened, in terms of recruiting, because they talked to each other, they helped the recruiting process and decided to play together.  So, if one kid wants to play with another kid, then yeah, this could help UM, true, but can also work against as well.  Me, I like ink on paper...works for me!!

swamyblue

December 12th, 2010 at 4:11 PM ^

I'm starting to wonder if all the other CC's around the FBS will or are presently affecting our situation. 

This may get me neg'd  but I'm leaning towards the 'don't do anything but bring on a Co-Defensive Coordinator' approach.  And yes, that means keeping Greg "The Fozzie Bear" Robinson around Schembechler Hall. 

It will be interesting to see how we've progressed @ the bowl game on defense.

Another interesting note, if we part ways with RR he's likely on everyone's wish list for OC.  Hell Mack Brown will probably pick him up in a heart beat for OC and honestly, he might not take that much of a paycut.  Ok I need to stop!  I don't want to think about that happening!  Need to keep positive!

Old School Wolverine

December 12th, 2010 at 9:57 PM ^

Try to put things in perspective. Many who post here are very young and weren't privy to experiencing all the success we've had as a program. Instead, they caught the tail-end of Carr's program, and RR is all they know.   So when you hear them yap about "losing" recruits... well its their type of recruits, if you consider that RR is gone and JH is coming, which is expected.  And they do not consider the right type of recruit that we will now gain....like tough OL recruits... like a LB like James Vaughters...  and nobody has even made mention of this...the possibility of Andrew Luck coming with JH, who is only a sophomore...and anyone with their head on right would rather live as a student as long as possible, than to go to NFL and live out of suitcase, at this age. Ask Matt Leinart.

I for one, will be RELIEVED that the smallish speedy  defensive recruit we've been getting of late will be replaced with the normal tough as nails  large NFL prospect recruit that we've drawn the past 20 years save the last three.