Three-Point Stance: Kiffin's early offer, Texas recruiting, Fields
Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s thought-provoking Three-Point Stance is here as he talks Lane Kiffin and his extra-early offers, the state of Texas and recruiting and the decommitment of a five-star quarterback.
1. ANOTHER KIFFIN MIDDLE SCHOOL OFFER
I like Lane Kiffin, I really do.
I’ve only met him once or twice in person, but that doesn’t matter, because what I like is how interesting Kiffin makes college football. From trash talking Urban Meyer to bolting Tennessee like a thief in the night to his time at USC and his admonishments from Nick Saban, Kiffin has always been entertaining.
But I’m a bit tired of the early offers to gain attention. He did it with David Sills back when he took over at USC (Sills has since become a wide receiver prospect more than a quarterback), and now he’s doing it again with the children of famous friends. First he offered 2022 quarterback Kaden Martin, the son of USC offensive coordinator and former Tennessee star Tee Martin, and now he’s offered 2023 quarterback Pierce Clarkson, the son of famous quarterback guru Steve Clarkson.
As with Sills back in the day, there is obviously no way to tell whether either prospect will be talented enough to play FBS football at their current age. We are talking about middle school kids here who are still growing and developing. They may have good bloodlines and may be better than their current peer group, but they're years away from even signing with any school.
Once again, this is clearly a publicity stunt by Kiffin to get people to talk about him. This time, at Florida Atlantic, he needs that boost much more than he did at USC. But should he be doing it while putting pressure on the backs of 12 and 13 year old kids? No way.
Luckily for both prospects they have fathers who have “been there and done that” when it comes to hype, recruiting and college football, but this still reeks of Kiffin’s “look at me” mentality. And honestly, he’s better than that.
Oh, and clearly I fell into his trap by writing about it. Doh!
2. IN-STATE SCHOOLS RECLAIM RECRUITING TERRITORY
Good luck to everyone recruiting the state of Texas. Your cherry picking days could be over.
While Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin may be on the hot seat based on how this upcoming season shakes out, the Aggies have two of the top 11 in-state prospects committed for 2018 and four of the top 22. And they already have the top quarterback, Grant Gunnell out of Houston, committed for 2019.
Meanwhile, Texas head coach Tom Herman’s job security is at an all-time high having never coached a game in Austin, and he has the Longhorns locked and loaded with two of the top six players in state and three of the top 28.
Now, on paper, this may not sound overly impressive, but compared to recent years it’s a big deal. Yes, quarterback Kellen Mond is essentially a Texas prospect and was a five-star committed to A&M in 2017, but he left the state to play for IMG, making things a bit murky as far as state rankings.
When it comes to prospects who played their senior year in Texas in the 2017 class, neither program signed a top-10 player in state. A&M ended up with three players in the top 30 overall and Texas landed three as well. Things were a bit better in 2016, but not by much, as Texas landed six in the top 30; the Longhorns were aided by the Baylor fallout, allowing them to add players like Devin Duvernay, Patrick Hudson and J.P. Urquidez.
For A&M it was a similar struggle, with only three of the top 30 deciding to play for the Aggies. You get the point. In-state recruiting hasn’t been that strong for either program recently. But now that it is clearly improving, which teams does it hurt the most?
Oklahoma – The Sooners obviously recruit Texas hard and have landed a top-25 prospect in each of the last three years, including top-10 wide receiver Cedarian Lamb in 2017 and top-15 prospects Chris Robison, Charleston Rambo and Tyrese Robinson as well. We’ll see if they can land a top-15 prospect in 2018 now that Lincoln Riley is in charge.
Ohio State – J.T. Barrett is paying dividends, and 2017 was a banner year with five-stars Baron Browning and Jeffrey Okudah leaving the state and top-10 prospect J.K. Dobbins also heading to Columbus.
Alabama – A’Shawn Robinson, Tony Brown, Deionte Thompson and Kendall Sheffield were all big gets out of Texas even if Robinson is the only one to pan out so far. And let’s not forget the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Jalen Hurts, was from Texas as well.
Something about 2018 certainly feels different. Many of the top prospects in the state of Texas appear to be leaning toward either the Longhorns or Aggies short of a few. (Anthony Cook and Alston Orji, Vanderbilt commit if that sticks, are among the exceptions.) Interest in both Texas and Texas A&M is very strong in both the 2018 and 2019 classes.
Obviously Texas has more of the momentum with a new coach and the questions about Sumlin’s job security, but unlike the last few years the in-state studs are looking closer at Texas and Texas A&M. In the world of recruiting, a verbal commitment means as much as the paper it’s written on and a few of these committed players could bolt, especially if the season doesn’t go well for one or both programs, but it’s a great sign for both programs that they are putting up a better fight to keep kids in state.
3. PENN STATE LOSES FIELDS
With five-star quarterback Justin Fields backing off his pledge to Penn State, it’s unlikely that the Nittany Lions will reel him back in despite his pronouncement that PSU is still in the mix. In Rivals.com history, I can only think of one five-star quarterback, Mitch Mustain, who de-committed from a school only to re-commit; Mustain backed off his Arkansas pledge but re-committed in the end (and transferred out anyhow).
Others like Anthony Morelli, Ryan Perrilloux, Blaine Gabbert, Gunner Kiel and more recently Kellen Mond, Shea Patterson, Jake Fromm and Hunter Johnson have done it as well in Rivals.com history, so it’s not like this is an uncommon practice. I’m sure I’m missing one or two guys as well, but what’s interesting, at least to me, is how four of the five that have finished their college careers.
Four of them ended up being either complete flops or underachievers. Morelli, who flipped from Pitt to Penn State, had an average career as a Nittany Lion. Mustain showed promise as a true freshman but decided to bolt for USC, where his career went nowhere. Perrilloux was a complete waste of talent. Kiel, to my knowledge, is the only five-star quarterback to de-commit twice, as he led both Indiana and LSU astray before enrolling at Notre Dame and eventually transferring to Cincinnati with average results. Gabbert, who committed to Nebraska originally, had a strong career with Missouri, was a first round draft pick and is still in the NFL today, but he’s clearly the exception.
Who knows how Mond, Patterson, Fromm and Johnson will pan out?
While this may be a huge disappointment now for Penn State fans, maybe it won’t be as bad as they think.