Rivals Roundtable: Analysts' wildest stories from recruiting trail
All of the Rivals analysts have been doing this job for years - and so we’ve seen a lot of things. Today, we ask them to share one of the funniest stories from the road since covering recruiting can be a little like following a soap opera. Below are some memories.
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ROB CASSIDY, Florida analyst
I was also at the event that Adam Gorney references below and I'll never forget seeing one of the coaches putting the tournament director in a choke-hold and pinning him against a pile of rocks. I can't even remember how it started. Anyway, Snoop Dogg's 7-on-7 team was at the tournament and Snoop was also in attendance, and I'll never forget seeing Snoop, the guy that rapped on "Nuthin But a G Thang," sprinting for the parking lot when stuff got real.
ADAM FRIEDMAN, Mid-Atlantic analyst
I remember going to a camp in February five or so years ago at a small indoor soccer field. As usual, lineman one-on-ones get pretty intense but, with no fenced off seating area, parents were allowed on the 20-square yards of field. One thing led to another and I found myself bobbing and weaving through scuffles on my way to safe ground. Players were getting into it with parents and it was just a huge mess. I haven't seen the company that ran that camp operate another one since.
ADAM GORNEY, West and national analyst
There have been a lot of funny stories over the years, but one that pops in my mind is when Josh Rosen was playing with the Snoop Dogg 7-on-7 team and a fight broke out to cancel the tournament in Las Vegas. Rosen was a wise-cracker who honestly didn’t have much interest in driving through the desert to Vegas to play in yet another 7-on-7 tournament, a schedule that is grueling and endless during the spring, but here he was with the wind howling and the temperatures in the 40s at this tournament.
Well, one thing led to another and two players start brawling, a fight that led into a rock formation on the hill, that then became a bench-clearing brawl. People were yelling and screaming and things got rapidly out of hand. The entire tournament was canceled because of it. Through all the hysteria, I was standing next to Rosen as we watched this scene unfold. He turned to me as calmly as possible and said, "Can I just go home?’" I happened to be thinking the same thing.
JOSH HELMHOLDT, Midwest analyst
I actually have not told this story publicly before. Last fall I took a weekend off and traveled to Churchill Downs to experience horse racing in Louisville. This was the opening day of the fall meet, but otherwise not a particularly eventful day at the track.
As I am walking through the crowd, though, I see a Louisville football staffer and four-star defensive end J.J. Weaver, who looked very bored, walking toward me. I knew J.J. was taking his official visit with the Cardinals that weekend, but J.J. is from Louisville. He can go to Churchill Downs any time he wants. Why would Louisville waste precious hours of an official visit having a staffer tour him around Churchill?
Needless to say, Louisville did not land Weaver's commitment and Bobby Petrino was fired about two weeks later.
CHAD SIMMONS, Southeast analyst
I have been in this business for over 15 years, so I have been told -- and been a part of -- some crazy recruiting stories. One that always comes to mind was when Plantation (Fla.) South Plantation running back Alex Collins committed to Arkansas over hometown Miami days before signing day in 2013. Collins flew up to Atlanta without family to announce his decision on Fox Sports South. I was the recruiting expert on that show, so I sat right beside him as he announced. From the minute he arrived at the studio, he was extremely nervous.
He knew his family (specifically, his mother) was not going to be happy with his decision. We were in the green room hours before and Collins was trying on the Arkansas hat. He had already informed the Razorback staff and he felt strong about the decision. The problem was, those closest to him wanted him to stay home and go to Miami.
We get to the final commercial on live TV before Collins' segment was coming up. He was so nervous. We come back and I set the announcement up, and Collins starts to breathe heavily. He sighs a couple of times, he even dips his head down behind the set. I had to urge him to make the call because we were on live TV and we still had five-star linebacker Reuben Foster set to announce his decision later in the show.
After pushing him a little and whispering to him that it will be OK, Collins sat up, and with a little smile, announced for Arkansas. Two days later, it was signing day, and Collins signed with Arkansas, but his mother took off with the letter of intent so it couldn't be sent to Arkansas. A couple of days later, the mother came around, signed the letter as well and Collins went on to be very productive in Fayetteville. That was a wild one for me.
SAM SPIEGELMAN, Texas and Louisiana analyst
In 2017, on the LSU beat, all of the talk about the Tigers' recruiting class was which linebackers would Coach O pull in late in the class. That was the cycle in which Dylan Moses was an early commitment under Les Miles, and if the Mad Hatter was still in Baton Rouge, then Moses likely would as well. Monty Rice gave the team a surprising commitment only to quietly sign with Georgia right before signing day.
When Ed Orgeron took over midway through the season, he shifted his focus to Jacob Phillips, Tyler Taylor, Willie Gay and Chris Allen. LSU was able to add Taylor to the fold late; it flipped Phillips away from Oklahoma. But the most polarizing character in this story is Gay, who in San Antonio told me, "Willie Gay is on the way!" That popular mantra inspired LSU fans all across the state - until the Starkville linebacker eventually signed with Mississippi State. Go figure.