TAMPA — The swirling world of college recruiting is swirling faster than ever and recruits are often left with their heads spinning with questions. Is this college coach telling me the truth? Why are these other college coaches still calling me even though I’ve announced my commitment? Will this coach even be there in a year or two, or, for that matter, when I walk onto the field next fall?
In the maelstrom leading up to national signing day (Wednesday), college coaches leave their programs, athletes change commitments, and perhaps the most frustrating of all, universities pull offers from students.
This year, three football players from Hillsborough County — Plant linebacker Andrew Beck, Jefferson quarterback Deiondre Porter and Hillsborough lineman Frank Carter — had all of the above happen to them.
Beck committed to Texas only to have the coach who recruited him, Mack Brown, resign. Porter was committed to the University of South Florida, but switched last month to the University of Florida. Carter committed to the University of Massachusetts during the summer, but UMass pulled its offer the day after Thanksgiving.
For Hillsborough High coach Earl Garcia, Carter’s story makes him steaming mad, while Carter remains a bit bewildered.
“(Carter) is a great kid who did everything the right way,” Garcia said. “He committed to UMass and then he did not go on another visit or talk to another school. He was true to his word. He was excited about getting an education at UMass.”
When Carter, a 6-foot-2, 300-pound lineman with a 4.6 GPA, got the call that UMass was pulling its offer, he was left little time to make an adjustment. It was late November and most college rosters were full with commitments. Garcia said Massachusetts pulled the offer because of a coaching change.
“The timing was terrible,” Carter said. “I wish I had more time to look around.”
After what Garcia called “a mad scramble” to land a school for Carter, he finds himself a day before signing day deciding between Division II Florida Tech and Division I Jackson State in Mississippi, which offered late Sunday.
“I’m still undecided,” Carter said Monday night. “I’ll give it a lot of thought in the next day.”
For Porter, it was a matter of his profile rising as he went through a phenomenal season, throwing for 3,199 yards and 33 touchdowns and rushing for 1,499 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also led the Dragons to a 10-2 record and into the Class 6A region semifinals.
Through the season’s first two games, Porter said he didn’t receive much attention from other college coaches, but with each big game the attention from other major universities picked up.
“I did take notice of the attention, but I didn’t really talk much to (other college coaches) because I was focused on (Jefferson’s team),” Porter said. “When the season ended I started thinking more about it. Sometimes if you have another opportunity you have to consider it. Sometimes things change.
“It was a very tough decision, but after thinking a lot about it I thought this was best for me. It wasn’t anything (USF) did that bothered me. It was just something that changed for me.”
For Beck, it was the opposite. The coach he had grown up admiring, Mack Brown, resigned after the season. But Beck, because he believed so much in the University of Texas program, never wavered from his commitment.
“I loved the idea of playing for (Brown), but I went in knowing that he may not be there in a year or two,” Beck said. “My parents and (Plant coach Robert Weiner) talked a lot about the fact that college coaches move around these days. I understand it’s a business. (Brown) did leave sooner than I expected, but I still wanted to go to Texas.”
Porter and Beck agreed that they, as well as most recruits these days, weigh their decision partly on college head coach, and largely on the program in general.
“The fact is college coaches come and go all the time,” Porter said. “So you have to look at the whole program.”
If Carter had to give recruits advice for the future, he said he would tell them to, “Make sure (the college recruiters) are being real with you.
“Try to make sure they are being sincere with what they are saying.”