By: Kendall Warren Twitter: @Kendall_B12C
It's drawing ever closer to the national signing day for college football. Coaches have logged countless hours in the pursuit of players that can propel their universities to the top of rankings. How do the coaches spend all of these hours? By traveling across country, evaluating film, phone calls, letters, social media, home visits, high school visits, and hosting recruits on college campus.
The way to get a recruit to commit to your university is by building a relationship with the players and parents. Coaches have to prove that their university is the "best" fit for the recruit.
After all this hard by coaches, the countless hours devoted, a recruit finally gives a verbal commitment to attend their university. Time for coaches to kick back and relax? Maybe go on vacation with the family and celebrate a successful recruiting season? Hell no!!! Now it's time to work even harder to keep commitments from decommitting and going to another college. Other coaches are like sharks smelling blood waiting to attack. Telling recruits everything, truth and lies, to get kids to flip commitment. You are after all dealing with seventeen and eighteen year old kids trying to make a life changing decision. It's a mind game being played on these recruits. They begin to question their decision.
Just when coaches think they have a solid commitment. BAM!!! The recruit changes their commitment and are off to another college. Life as a college football coach relies on the decisions high school juniors and seniors and their potential abilities on a football field. Not a fun job if you ask me. Lots of ups, downs, truths, lies.
Then there are recruits like Baylor's 2017 commitment Jalen Pitre, a 3 star safety out of Stafford, Texas (pictured above).
Everyone knows all about the Baylor football scandal. The sexual assault allegations, the cover up, the lies, the Pepper Hamilton report, head coach Art Briles fired, university president Kenneth Starr resigns, possible NCAA sanctions, and on and on. Most of everyone, including myself, was disgusted by what we were hearing out of Waco. Not exactly the best situation to attract recruits. Once all of this information starting being released in June of 2016, Baylor commitments started flipping faster than Olympic gymnasts. After a short time Baylor's 2017 recruiting class went from solid top 30 nationally ranked group to only one guy. Yes, that's right, only one guy left in the 2017 class. That lone wolf was Pitre.
Jalen Pitre had every opportunity to change his commitment and go to another college. Teams were calling asking him to flip his commitment, but he never did. No one would have said or thought anything negative if the Pitre would have decided to go elsewhere. In fact, most were expecting him to go anywhere else but Waco. But Pitre never wavered, never even thought about another college. Here is what Pitre told Nicole Auerbach of the USA Today, “I've always wanted to go to Baylor. I definitely loved the coaches when they were here; they were very good coaches. They were welcoming and they just made it feel like home every time I came for a visit for a game. I just felt like it was the right place for me."
Then Pitre went on to discuss the reason why he never made a change. It was more of a commitment from Baylor than a commitment from Pitre. “I tore my ACL (five games into) my junior season, and the coaches at Baylor told me that they were going to stick with me. That really set it for me right there. That really just told me, yeah, it wouldn’t be right to just flake out on somebody or a team like this after I get injured, not when the coaches said that they were still going to be there for me after I get injured. That was a big part of me staying recruited to Baylor."
It's pretty impressive that in the times of all the social media stupidity, the crazy recruit announcements, the countless lies, and almost routine flip flops by recruits, there is a young man who actually stuck to his commitment when everyone else turn and ran. Pitre represents all that is good with college athletics. Commitment, determination, perseverance, and honor.
I thought about if I were a 2017 recruit for Baylor. I asked myself, "would I have stuck it out?" The answer was NO!!! I would not want to deal with potential NCAA sanctions, scrutiny from others, and the idea that I might condone sexual assualt. Fortunately for Baylor fans, Pitre is not me or any of the others that chose to decommit from the 2017 class.
There are many opinions from around the country that are very negative towards Baylor football. It's understandable and mostly deserving. Even Big XII Country has be harsh on Baylor's handling of the scandal. Regardless of anyone's bitterness towards former players, coaches, and university officials, I hope we can all set it aside. The current players, incoming players, and coaches had nothing to do with any of the allegations. This season I will be cheering for Jalen Pitre. Not only as a football player, but a man. I hope you do the same.
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