I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Auburn and other colleges around the Southeastern Conference and the country are picking up so many early commitments for the 2014 football signee class because it is part of a trend that has been going on in recent years. However, it still seems a bit strange to me because it is something that wasn’t part of the college football scene when I was a player or a coach.
Looking at it from a coach’s perspective, I believe these early commitments from top prospects are a good thing, but they have their minuses, too. However, I am sure there are more pluses than minuses. If that wasn’t the case college coaches wouldn’t encourage high school players to publically announce their decisions during their junior year in high school, and the players would wait until they are much closer to signing day before announcing a college choice.
If a couple of Auburn’s top prospects have a great time at the upcoming Big Cat Weekend over the Memorial Day holiday, I am sure Gus Malzahn and coaching staff will be excited to get them on board. However, when a bluechip prospect gives an early commitment you can be sure that other coaches don’t stop recruiting him.
In fact, it can focus the recruiting efforts of coaches from other schools because they know they are recruiting against a specific target. For example, if a prospect commits very early to Auburn, coaches from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee and other colleges can focus their attack on beating just one school for that player.
A heavily recruited player who makes an early choice has got to be strong to withstand the recruiting barrage and his parents have got to be strong, too. The prospects who are really certain about their decisions are smart to just cut off recruiting and tell coaches at other colleges to quit writing, calling and visiting. If prospects have strong support on their decisions from their parents and other role models they are close to, like a high school coach, it helps isolate them from the pressure.
Even with kids who look like they have cut off recruiting and appear solidly committed, smart coaches at the school he has committed to realize their job is not done. They need to continue the recruiting process all the way through signing day just like they do with the uncommitted players who are having a difficult time making a decision or who are really enjoying all of the attention they are receiving during the recruiting process.
It looks like Gus Malzahn’s staff is off to a solid start on lining up players for their 2014 class. The Tigers have commitments from talented prospects who appear to be kids with good character, which is always a good thing. If you get enough of those kind of players into your program it is worth all of the time and effort it takes to recruit them.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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