ACC football recruiting has picked up of late, with a rash of commitments occurring in recent weeks. While these verbal commitments aren’t binding until National Signing Day, that hasn’t stopped schools from celebrating each commitment they’ve received.
It’s a dramatic departure from past recruiting practices where teams generally only accepted verbal commitments from their top prospects and then waited until the fall or winter before filling out the rest of their class. At this point, it seems a few ACC schools are not following the old blueprints.
Over the last week, North Carolina State and Boston College have both picked up a handful of commitments and now have 20 players committed to the class of 2014. Miami added six commitments over the weekend at the Al Golden Football Camp, raising their total number to 17. And North Carolina and Florida State aren’t too far behind them with 16 and 15 respectively.
Taking commitments this early is an interesting strategy. While it’s reassuring for schools to see their classes fill up in June it’s a risky proposition as well. Keep in mind, these players that are committing haven’t even played their senior seasons in high school, and a lot can change in one year.
Inevitably, some of these players will plateau athletically and might not be worth the scholarship offer they received. Others might blossom during their senior year and be worthy of an offer, but it might be too late. If a school’s class is full, they might not have room for a player that’s a late bloomer. That’s why schools traditionally waited until later in the process to offer mid-level prospects. But everything is moving faster in the recruiting these days.
That leaves schools facing a difficult decision. Do they sign a player with a little less talent because they don’t want to wait for a top prospect until signing day, perhaps getting burned in the process? Or do they pull scholarship offers from kids that have been verbally committed for months if a better prospect comes along?
College football has become win at all costs, so it’s likely that schools will choose the latter. In fact, if you follow recruiting closely, you’ll hear kids say that the school they’ve been committed to hasn’t called them in months, more or less hoping the player will get the picture and decommit themselves. It’s a little sleazy, but it’s a better alternative than calling a kid and telling him they no longer want him, giving the school a bad reputation.
Ultimately it’s up to individual schools to decide, but they each walk a fine line during the recruiting process.
So for now these schools can celebrate the verbals they’re receiving in June, but it remains to be seen how happy they’ll be come National Signing Day.
B.L. is an ACC Football writer for Rant Sports and can be followed @coachlip on Twitter.