Noncommittal 1
Written by Charles Hanagriff   
Thursday, 26 January 2012 11:42

It’s getting close to Signing Day, so it’s not uncommon for some of my football fan friends, the ones that only follow recruiting casually, to ask questions. 

I got one the other day about a certain recruit who will remain nameless, but could be any of a large number of players throughout the country. 

“What’s the deal with Joe Player?” 

“He’s a soft commitment to University X,” I explained.  “He still has a few more visits scheduled before he decides.” 

“Well then what was the point of him committing in the first place?” 

Talk about a good question. 

The term “soft commitment” entered our lexicon sometime in the last decade, though nobody is exactly sure who first came up with the terminology.  

Whoever it was, I hate him. 

The football equivalent of being married but still allowed to date has muddled the already murky waters of recruiting even more, but it is hardly the only term that is next to impossible to explain to those that don’t follow the process on a daily basis. 

To confuse things even more, the schools and recruits often have different interpretations. 

So, for those that are interested in recruiting exactly one week a year, here are a few terms you may hear in the next seven days, with an explanation of each. 

Soft commitment 

What it is supposed to mean: 

A recruit is “committed to a school”, but still has the recruiting process open, including taking official visits.  We used to call this a “lean” or say a certain school was “in the lead”.  That apparently wasn’t sexy enough, so now we have this. 

What it really means: 

The recruit enjoys being recruited.  He likes the free food, trips, tickets, etc.  He likes the media hounding him for information.  He likes having grown men throw themselves at him like he’s the best looking girl at the prom. 

He really enjoys the attention he gets when he “commits”, so he decides to do it several times. 

He has a “non-committable offer” 

What it is supposed to mean: 

This is the schools version of a soft commitment.  It means that there will be an offer of a scholarship, but only if “the numbers work out”. 

What it really means: 

The school has as LEAST 25 players they want more than this kid.  If they get them, he’s out of luck.  If they strike out, he can slide in at the last minute. 

He’s a strong possibility for a grayshirt 

What it is supposed to mean: 

This player has a “committable offer”, but cannot enroll until January. 

What it really means: 

That the school has at LEAST 25 players they like better than this one, but he is too good to let get away to another school.  This process requires that a player REALLY wants to go to the school that grayshirts him. 
 
 

He’ll make his announcement at the All Star Game or on Signing Day 

What it is supposed to mean: 

The player will have made up his mind by this day as to which school he will sign with. 

What it really means: 

The player made his decision a long time ago, and is playing up this day as the time when he can get the most attention.  These players are the top guys, and they command attention even with a number of other stars making decisions on these days. 
 

He’s still undecided, but will make his announcement on Friday 

What it is supposed to mean: 

The player is setting this day as a deadline for making his decision. 

What it really means: 

The player made his decision a long time ago, and is playing up a certain day as the time when he can get the most attention.  These are players that are not good enough to be headliners on Signing Day or at an All Star Game, so they pick another day. 
 

He de-committed, but it was a mutual decision 

What it is supposed to mean: 

The player and the school decided together that the player would be better off at another school. 

What it really means: 

The school found somebody better, and told the kid they no longer had a spot for him.  They allow him to “save face” by de-committing before he commits somewhere else. 
 

They’re saving a spot for him 

What it is supposed to mean: 

The school will hold one scholarship open for a player that is so good, he is worth waiting for even beyond signing day.  Terrelle Pryor is an example of this. 

What it really means: 

The school usually fills the scholarship in the meantime, and if Joe Studley shows up, somebody is going to be shown the door. 

His parent/coach has been very active in his recruitment 

What it is supposed to mean: 

The player is getting counsel from well grounded and experienced adults during the process. 

What it really means: 

The parent or coach is living vicariously through an 18-year old, and they are going to be a serious pain in the rear once the kid gets to campus if he doesn’t star right away. 

Pain in the rear is as nice as I could put it. 

If momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy 

What it is supposed to mean: 

The player is going to strongly consider the wishes of his mother, who doesn’t want her baby to go far from home. 

What it really means: 

Sometimes it means a little, sometimes it means a lot.  Just ask LSU. 
 
 

Charles Hanagriff is the Sports Director for Eagle 98.1 and 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge.  Catch the new “Sports Today” show with Charles, Jimmy Ott, and Derek Ponamsky from 11am – 1pm weekdays on 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge, and 1045espn.com.