By Josh Davis, Graduate Assistant, American Football Coaches Association
Recruiters and player personnel within many college football programs face a similar pattern emerging from ranks of high school football players eager to join their collegiate brethren. Student-athletes are committing – then decommitting – to college programs at an unprecedented rate.
It has also become increasingly common for student-athletes to commit to programs far earlier than ever before. Part of the problem with de-commits is the fact that student athletes are quick to make this extremely important decision without obtaining necessary information that should be pivotal in choosing which school to attend. This fact, among many others, increases the risk of a student athlete de-committing prior to signing his national letter of intent.
Dale Steele, director of player personnel at James Madison University, says it is more difficult to build relationships with student-athletes because a player commitment doesn’t mean what it used to mean.
“We spend a lot of time trying to develop a relationship with a player and they are in such a hurry to commit,” he says. “They aren’t really concerned with the important things in choosing which school to attend.”
David Peloquin, director of player personnel for Notre Dame, says he begins educating student-athletes about commitment as early as possible.
“Combating de-commitment starts whenever you have an actual conversation with the student-athlete about what a commitment truly means,” says Peloquin.
It is the responsibility of the student-athletes to tell their coaches, family members, guardians – anyone who has any sort of influence upon them – that they have made a commitment.
“That way, if they start second-guessing themselves, everyone they are surrounded by knows the value of him keeping his word – which makes that decision to de-commit more difficult,” he says.
It is this constant interaction and communication between player personnel and the student-athlete that helps prevent this from happening. To his credit, Peloquin and the Fighting Irish did not have a single de-commit from its most recently completed recruiting cycle.
For more on the nature of recruiting and player personnel, make sure to check out Josh Davis’s article in the September/October 2016 issue of This Is AFCA Magazine.