On July 6th, four-star wide receiver TJ Sheffield decided that he was going to boost the upcoming recruiting class for the Notre Dame football program by committing to them. I’m sure this news was welcomed with open arms by the Notre Dame faithful, which is a very big fan base, as well as Sheffield, who was probably relieved that his recruitment process was over.
Fast forward not even a week to today and Sheffield took to Twitter to announce that after committing, Notre Dame had changed their mind and they were no longer going to honor his commitment to their football program.
— Tj Sheffield (@the_tj2) July 11, 2018
This is a really interesting decision by the school, especially for them to move on and decide to go in another direction from a player that’s as talented as Sheffield is. I know that recruits de-commit from schools all the time, but in my opinion if a school is going to offer a kid and that kid decides that he wants to commit, they should honor that and the only time I believe they should be able to free themselves from a commitment is if a kid gets in trouble off-the-field, which was not the case here.
I’m not going to place full blame on Notre Dame here though. I’m going to choose to point my finger mostly at the system that recruiting has become. And that is a system where teams throw offers at kids at an out-of-control rate, simply because they know that the prospect will run to their social media accounts and post things such as “Blessed to be offered by so and so school.” This enables the programs to gain free publicity for a kid that they might not even really want at their school in the first place.
A recruiting reporter that I follow that works for The Oregonian, named Andrew Nemec, talks a lot about “committable” and “non-committable” offers, as he mentioned in his story about this specific case.
He’s not wrong in using those terms. A lot of “non-committable” offers get thrown around in this day and age of social media recruiting and I think it’s especially unfortunate when a kid thinks he has a spot locked up at a certain school and that he can put his recruitment behind him and focus on his upcoming season.
Now a case like this where a four-star talent had his offer pulled is a pretty rare case. This would normally only happen if the player were to get in trouble off-the-field or if they suffered a debilitating injury to their career.
Once again, I’m not pointing the finger at Notre Dame because a lot of schools offer recruits that they have no intention of actually having join their program. The fact that it happened to a talent like this for a program like Notre Dame just makes it more headline grabbing than a situation like this normally would, and ultimately the system is to blame for that. Sadly, I don’t think the system that has evolved has a fix because social media isn’t going away anytime soon and if you become too judicious with your offers and aren’t getting your programs name out there you are more than likely going to fall behind.