And so Tyler Whiley is back at square one. Well, sort of.
His list is shorter this time around. The talking points are the same as they were at the start, though. Now that the four-star athlete from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral has trimmed his list to include only Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Oklahoma State and Tennessee, he's back to overusing the word "even" and the phrase "wide open."
"I have no favorites between the five schools," Whiley said by text message after trimming his list on Thursday. "Everyone is even again."
His five finalists will serve as the destinations for his five official visits. Whiley says he intends to take all five eventually but has not started the process of setting them up. Which program will get the first and which will get the last is yet to be determined.
What he does know, however, is why each school made his cut. He has a different reason for each. The surprise team still standing is Oklahoma State, which Whiley didn't talk much about in recent weeks. He says that cutting Oklahoma was his most difficult task, but the decision of keeping the Sooners' in-state rival on his list was made for a reason.
"Oklahoma State made it because I model my game after Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon," Whiley said. "Why not get coached up by the same coach they did and play in that same offense?"
The longest trip Whiley will need to take for an official visit will be a journey to Tennessee, which he says made his list of finalists based on a childhood affinity.
"Tennessee was one of those schools I grew up watching when I was younger," Whiley said. "They have a great program that should be back at the top again soon."
Both in-state programs also avoided the cut, and Whiley says they stand on level footing for now. He insists that he doesn't favor one Arizona-based school over the other, but each has its unique perks.
"I just felt comfortable with Arizona, with Coach [Charlie] Ragle being there and all. At ASU, I feel like I can make an impact as soon as I set foot on campus."
Then, there's the perceived favorite. While insists that there is no such thing but many have believed UCLA to be the frontrunner for weeks. He's visited the Bruins' campus repeatedly and sings the praises of the coaching staff in place.
When asked about the Jim Mora's program, though, Whiley's answer is short.
"UCLA is a program on the rise," he said. "I feel I can make an impact on both sides of the ball there."
Whiley claims 13 total scholarship offers and says he would like to play both wide receiver and defensive back in college if possible.