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Players’ word no guarantee they’ll come

Second of a two-day series

Arizona has been victimized by an ever-growing decommitting pattern in college football. But the Wildcats hope to bounce back by luring five-star safety Rahim Moore to switch his allegiance from UCLA.

All is fair in love and recruiting, so it seems. Moore is taking an official visit to the UA campus this weekend.

Moore, the No. 2-rated safety in the country by Scout.com, is among the large number of players nationwide thinking twice about their verbal commitments.

He’s 6 feet 2 and 190 pounds, a star from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. His decision to look around stems from a coaching change with the Bruins. He committed to UCLA in March when Karl Dorrell was the head coach. That was a long time and a new coach ago. Rick Neuheisel has replaced Dorrell.

Moore would be a good “get” for the Wildcats after they lost three high-profile prospects who have switched from UA to Arizona State in the past several months.

Players are decommitting more than ever, according to Scout.com national recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg. Having an early signing day might avoid some of these problems, but not everybody agrees.

“I don’t care who you are. You are going to lose players. USC lost (one recently). Notre Dame lost one,” Newberg said. “It’s going to happen.”

Besides Moore, the Wildcats are scheduled to host Vaughn Dotsy, an offensive lineman from Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure High, offensive line star Allen Carroll of (Oakland, Calif.) McClymonds High, defensive tackle Geordon Hanohono of Honolulu St. Louis High and defensive tackle Chris Merrill of Scottsdale Saguaro.

Dotsy committed to the Wildcats on Tuesday, while Merrill has verbally been pledged for Arizona for months.

Arizona has already signed five junior college players. They are all expected by Friday to be cleared academically. The Wildcats also have 17 known commitments for the 2008 class who can sign Feb. 6.

The Wildcats hope to get three more players on board, while trying to keep in the fold the players who have said they will come.

A commitment has not meant as much this year. Arizona lost Ryan Bass, a tailback from Corona (Calif.) Centennial High, and receivers Jarrell Barbour (Peoria Centennial) and Gerrell Robinson (Chandler Hamilton).

UA signed offensive lineman Phillip Garcia after he originally pledged for Kansas State.

Players are jumping around.

“We tell them don’t commit to us until you are absolutely sure this is what you want to do,” UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said.

Football players are committing earlier than ever, which is good for a school if the players don’t change their minds.

But many are switching schools because of local pressures, family influence, having too many players at the same position being recruited and the most notable reason – coaching changes. More players today commit early before their senior season starts.

Only football and hockey don’t have an early signing day. Basketball has a signing day in November, and then in April. Football’s signing day is always the first Wednesday in February.

Once a letter of intent is signed and a player changes his mind, he must sit out a year when transferring and lose a year of eligibility. There is a cost.

There is no consequence for decommitting in the current system, which leaves some schools going to Plan B or Plan C late in the recruiting game.

Players can still change their minds, however, if there is a coaching change, something they can’t do if an early signing period is established.

“You would hope your son wanted to go to Arizona because it is Arizona, or to USC because it is USC . . . but it is not like that in many cases,” Newberg said. “It is about the coach and who is there. Relationships are so crucial in recruiting.”

There have been casual discussions about a Dec. 1 signing date, along with the February date. There are some coaches who have said they would like to have a signing period by August.

UA coach Mike Stoops, unavailable for comment because he’s on the road recruiting, favors an early signing period.

Mark Stoops agrees after the slew of decommittments, not just with the Wildcats but nationally.

“It is a shame. You are wasting your valuable time and a year of the university’s money,” Mark Stoops said. “It is kind of a joke. This is about saving money, time and energy . . . I would be shocked if there was not a strong support for an early signing period. No coaches like chasing their tail.”

The Pac-10 representatives have voted down on the issue, however, along with the Southeastern Conference. The Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12 are in favor of the measure, according to a story by the Salt Lake City Tribune.

What’s the answer?

Pick a school and stick with it, UA recruiting coordinator Bill Baker said.

“That should always be the No. 1 thing,” Baker said. “You can always have a strong relationship with a recruiting coach, but the realistic likelihood of that coach, either the head coach or the position coach they are dealing with staying with you the four or five years is slim. Commit to the school, and if it’s the school you want to go to, then the school should be good to (you) as well.”


More football players are committing earlier, Scout.com says:


Verbal pledges to BCS conference schools by June 1, 2003


BCS verbal pledges by June 1, 2007

Source: Scout

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