Early Decisions: More College Coaches Are Getting Into Middle-School Recruiting

College football programs are spotting talent and asking for commitments — at the middle-school level.

"I haven't heard of it happening in the Houston area yet, but it's clearly just a matter of time with the talent base in the area," he says, alluding to the fact that, other than Los Angeles and Miami, no major metropolitan area stockpiles more future NFL players than Houston.

Sellers's Rivals.com database shows verbal offers out to class of 2018 recruits in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Louisville and Memphis, among other cities.

"It's happening in California, Florida and Louisiana, and it's happened elsewhere in Texas."

On rivals.com, even the youngest players are assessed.
On rivals.com, even the youngest players are assessed.
As an eighth-grader, Dylan Moses got several college offers after this videotape made the rounds.
As an eighth-grader, Dylan Moses got several college offers after this videotape made the rounds.

The most high-profile Texas eighth-grade commitment is, like Moses, committed to LSU. Zadock Dinkelmann of Somerset, in the San Antonio area, is a quarterback who has yet to take a high-school snap. However, he has two things going for him.

First, he's one of those freakish eighth-graders who are already 6-foot-4. Second, he's the nephew of 1990 Heisman winner Ty Detmer. Size and genes were enough for Miles to offer Dinkelmann. The lure of Baton Rouge was enough for Dinkelmann to commit.

Upon his nephew's commitment, Detmer said, "The pressure's really off at this point."

To the contrary, according to Sellers. Committing this early only amps up the pressure on a kid at an age when he's likely not equipped to handle it.

"When a kid that young commits to a school, the scrutiny and pressure to live up to the hype is crazy," Sellers contends. "You have to wonder how much of it being an actual game and having fun goes out the window when all of your peers and opponents know you as 'that kid who got offered by school X already.'"

Recruiting scrutiny is fueled by the negative side of human nature. Compliments turn into nitpicking, underrated becomes overrated.

"The biggest question that pops into my head every time I hear of these early offers is if the kid will even still like football four years down the road," Sellers says.

It's now June 2014.

Four years after committing to USC and Kiffin, David Sills is heading into his senior year at Maryland's Eastern Christian Academy. The scrawny kid in Steve Clarkson's 2010 uploaded YouTube video is now a young man.

The future All American that Lane Kiffin saw at age 13 has not developed as Kiffin had foreseen. Far from a blue chipper, Sills has ­become a decent but flawed high school quarterback, rated more highly by some than by others. (Sellers's Rivals.com site has Sills as one of the top 250 players nationally. Scout.com doesn't have him in its top 300.)

However, Kiffin's opinion of Sills doesn't really matter at this point. Kiffin was fired by USC in 2013.

The new staff at USC has no ties to Sills, no ties to his verbal commitment, underscoring the massive flaw in this whole process — the supposed "commitment" from Sills isn't binding on either side. Either the player or the school can change course at any time up until the player signs his letter of intent in February of his senior year.

The "offer" and "commitment" that so many high school players and college coaches are building their lives and teams around are, ironically, as flimsy as "going steady" in eighth grade.

Steve Sarkisian, Kiffin's replacement, is recruiting next year's class as if Sills barely exists. He recently secured a verbal commitment from five-star quarterback Ricky Town and has offers out to a handful of other senior signal callers.

The reality that Sills's commitment to USC has all the validity of a fifth-grade promise ring has set in.

Trampled by the whimsy of college football recruiting, not to mention the recklessness of attaching any part of one's future to the nomadic Kiffin, David Sills decommitted from USC on June 28.

Four years of "commitment" down the drain.

Sills will land somewhere eventually, likely a school far less prestigious than USC — maybe a little bit wiser, hardened by the fallout from a process that needs a major overhaul.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Sean­Cablinasian or email him at sean.pendergast@cbsradio.com.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help

Love what you do Sean but you lost me when you started quoting Rob $ellers.......

Houston Concert Tickets