Baxter’s Blitz

Quiet month hits recruiting

scvarsity@sc.rr.comDecember 24, 2012 

AS I PREPARE FOR the holidays with the family and listen to the classic songs, “Silent Night” seems to be most fitting for recruiting in South Carolina.

With a few exceptions, prospects from the Class of 2013 committed months ago. South Carolina traditionally has been the “Land of the Early Verbal Commitment,” and that has never been truer than this year.

Of the 50 senior prospects I ranked in the preseason at SCVarsity.com, 11 are uncommitted.

Many players no longer take all five official visits allowed by the NCAA. The longer a player waits to commit, the riskier losing early offers becomes. That happened last season when one of the state’s top players waited too long and was no longer a “take” at one of the instate institutions.

Because recruiting is a lot more aggressive today, college programs are pressuring kids to make earlier decisions. The earlier a player commits, the earlier coaches can move on to other players. That can, however, backfire. A few years ago, pressure to commit early pushed one of the state’s top linebackers into the hands of a rival.

December used to be big for official visits but has become a time for visits following commitments.

Several major college programs began to identify top prospects from the Class of 2014 and 2015 last summer, if not before. This makes a player’s senior season mean less in recruiting circles, particularly when it comes to major programs.

There also is a ripple effect felt by FCS and Division II schools, which often have to wait and see where prospects fall after the bigger schools have had their say. Because of this, lower-level schools also identify players earlier and use this time of year to secure them.

The wildcard at this time of the year are the schools going through coaching changes. In most cases, schools will honor those earlier oral commitments, but there’s no guarantee once the new coaching staff is in place. And even if the they do intend to honor those offers, there is no guarantee the players will stay committed to the new staff.

December, at least for recruiting, truly has become a month of silent nights.

Thursday, we’ll take a look at the holiday basketball tournament action and standout players from around the state.

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