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NCAA Football

College Football Recruiting: Package Deals Shifting Balance of Process?

So-called “package deals” in the world of college football recruiting are hardly new.

For decades, high-profile players have used the leverage of a teammate with schools they are considering to make their own process more comfortable.

The most recent of these scenarios comes with 2013′s prime prospect, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who has verbally committed to the Clemson Tigers, but has recently added a caveat which has some folks shaking their heads in disbelief.

A unanimous five-star prospect, Nkemdiche is starting to back off of his commitment to Clemson, unless they are willing to also give a scholarship offer to his good friend and high school teammate, Ryan Carter, a lightly-recruited safety who is not even ranked by some scouting and evaluation services.

Robert Nkemdiche was very clear an offer to Carter would “seal the deal” in a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Clemson said they like Ryan a lot and that he’s at the top of their board. Yes, sir, if Clemson offers Ryan, it would seal the deal. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.

What Nkemdiche didn’t mention is if Clemson’s decision to not provide an offer to Carter could re-open his recruiting process and lead to a de-commitment.

Herein lies the quandary which could become a scary precedent.

There’s an understood balance of power in the world of collegiate sports recruiting where the coaches and recruiting coordinators doing the selling have a natural leverage over the student-athletes being recruited.

Scouting services exist across the country equipped to arm student-athletes– usually at a hefty price– with the tools and techniques to try and tip this balance back in their favor and regain some leverage. Typically, though, this is done by asking questions and showing interest, rather than using a commitment as the focal point.

If five-star guys can start to use the pending offer of less-talented high school teammates– who, in essence, they want to come along to campus as a security blanket– as a way to make their commitments tentative, will the hands of coaches across the recruiting landscape start to be forced?

Could this potentially be a tipping point which we didn’t see on the horizon?

Could high-profile players start to use these scenarios to hold the process hostage?

Obviously, it would take many of this same situation to play out in the student-athlete’s favor for coaches to have any real concern about losing top prospects due to valued friendships which they player doesn’t want to sever.

You never know, though, the recruiting landscape changes constantly and this is yet another wrinkle which coaches will be forced to deal with on some scale– great, or small.

Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page.

Kris is also the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.