Recruits should commit to a school itself above all else


When Aubrey Hill resigned from his UF post on Aug. 3, many Gator fans worried how this would affect Florida’s top receiver commitment Ahmad Fulwood.

He made the masses breathe easy when he posted this on his twitter account:

“As long as the university of Florida stands (I’m) 110% committed to the gators,” Fulwood wrote.

The four-star wideout followed that tweet up with this:

“I look at it like if coach hill would have left halfway through my sophomore year I wouldn’t leave Florida then. Coaches come and go.”

That is the mentality UF coach Will Muschamp hopes all his commits have.

“When young men commit to the University of Florida or any school, they commit to the school — I hope,” Muschamp said.

As we’ve seen this month, that isn’t always the case.

Florida’s 2013 class has shrunk by four members in August and many of the current commits have chimed in on twitter, including Nick Washington.

The four-star safety told the Sun that regardless of the circumstances, recruits should stay firm and find a way to make things work.

“I feel like if you make a commitment you need to stick with it,” Washington said. “I don’t know what their reasons are for decommitting, but I don’t really like it.”

Like his close friend Fulwood, Washington feels that committing for factors other than the school itself can cause defections.

“I definitely think guys commit for the wrong reasons,” Washington said. “Whether it’s for coaches or thinking they’re going to start rather than the school that fits them the most.”

Although most of the “decommitments” actually parted ways with Florida mutually, this was still caused by them not giving their full commitment to the school they pledged to be a part of.

Receiver Rodney Adams and offensive tackle Rod Johnson were told they needed to improve their grades, but instead of focusing on their schoolwork, they turned their attention to visiting other schools and then began wavering when coach Hill left.

The UF coaches felt offensive guard Josh Outlaw and cornerback Tre’ Bell were dishonest and that ultimately turned them off. Outlaw refused to let the staff know why he was suspended from his team, while Bell told Muschamp he wasn’t allowed to workout at FNL and then competed in a 7-on-7 tournament the next day.

In short, these recruits didn’t do what they were supposed to do to stay in the class. Players that show a lack of commitment in high school usually have the same issue in college.

Of the five transfers from Muschamp’s 2011 class, four wavered at some point in their recruitment. Receiver Javares McRoy (Texas Tech) and linebacker Graham Stewart (Boston College) left their original school of choice to join the Gators, receiver Ja’Juan Story almost flipped to Ohio State on NSD and tight end A.C. Leonard decommitted from Florida during his senior season.

Washington said the recruits that are 100-percent committed from the get-go are the ones that won’t quit on the team during the trying times.

“Those are the guys you want to have around you in the locker room,” Washington said. “Even if a coach leaves or you lose a game or something isn’t going right, you’re still committed to the school and want to be a part of that family. And to me those are the two things that should matter more than anything.”

Muschamp believes Florida is one of the few places that sells itself, and any other recruiting pitches or factors a recruit cares about should be secondary to the school.

“We’re one of those special places where that certainly can happen,” Muschamp said. “Guys want to come here because it is the University of Florida, it is the state school, it does play in the SEC. At the end of the day it’s got a great tradition and it’s got a great education, so there’s a lot of positives about being at Florida.”


  1. Zach doesn’t sound irritated to me. Just explaining that it seems UF left these recruits because of dishonesty or other reasons, rather than them defecting from us.

    And I bet we replace them with even better recruits.

    • BleacherGator21,
      That’s true (at least according to what we’ve been told). I was just making the point that players who show lack of commitment during their recruitment are usually the ones that transfer, regardless of the reason. I will say that if Stewart was a starter, I doubt he would have left UF. There are plenty of players on the team going through some sort of family issue that don’t transfer. Maybe Stewart’s situation was more severe, I’m not sure.

  2. Doesn’t sound irritated to me, great job w this Zach, definately needed and restores a sense of what it means to be a part of UF. A recruit needs a university for what it stands for and not vice versa. Very, very proud of the stance Coach Muschamp seems to stand for…our character and integrity is just as important as wins.

  3. All great points, Zach. But it is unfair to suggest relationships with coaches shouldn’t factor in the decision. I worked for a great company up until a year and half ago. Made more money, better bonuses, it had a good track record on Wall Street, but I was working for first class jerk for 8 of the 11 years I was employed there – and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Now, I make a little less money, bonuses are not near as what I was getting and the company, you could say has stagnated in recent years. But, my boss is everything that my old one wasn’t and its the happiest I’ve been professionally, in well over 10 years. Relationships do make a difference,

    • Scooterp,
      I’m absolutely not suggesting relationships and other factors shouldn’t go into a decision. I just think finding the school that best fits needs to be priority No. 1 for recruits, and I know Muschamp, Fulwood, Washington and several other commits agree with me on that. The players that stayed committed to Penn State post-sanctions are a perfect example.

  4. Washington and Fulwood are going to be stars when they arrive on campus.

    With the possiblility of Elam leaving early, Washington (and Neal) have a chance to step in at Safety. Fulwood could probably start today if he was allowed to play.

  5. Nice article, Zach. Thanks, for reminding everyone that this is UF! That’s what Coach Muschamp has been saying! He is building a program here not a team. Not eveyone is a fit. That’s OK! Moving on, we will be stronger for it! GO GATORS!

  6. Zach: Please educate me on this point of journalist practice. I really do not know the answer. On a couple of occaions you have written that several ‘decommits’ (what a terrible word) were’mutual’ meaning I suppose that both parties agreed to the break. Yet, no one is quoted; no one is identified as a source. The information could reasonably have come from only three places. (1) The recruit, (2) The coaching staff (an NCAA violation), (3) A third party source without direct knowledge of the facts. How should a journalist handle this situation? Thanks for the information.

  7. EMK: You find a way to be negative no matter what article you are posting in. Why is that? You claim to be a Gator yet you arebasically accusing the staff of NCAA violations. Again, Why?
    Why not go with the usual comments that most in here throw out there? Like “Nice article Zach! or “All great points, Zach.” or how about “zach……well said.”…? You are a complete and utter douche and need to go somewhere else and spew your nonsense!

  8. That’s garbage! Yes, you have to like the school, but if you are a QB or receiver, you better know what system you’re signing up for. Look at Arizona, Cal, Washington State, Hawaii, Fresno State, etc., etc.

    All had coaching changes that brought new and different systems or key coaching defections. The coaches say that because they know their time at that school may be short.

    But often, that leaves kids with no other choice but to transfer to another D1(and have to sit a year), transfer to the FCS, or go to a JUCO.

    It’s just like the verbal commit arguement. Once the kid signs he has no leverage, and the promises made by the coaches to get them there are out the window.

    It’s important for the kid to weigh ALL the options, and that includes what kind of contract the coach is under, and at least what he says his commitment is to the program and school, ala Todd Graham and Lane Kiffin.

    Be smart about everything. I know kids that had great high school careers, got full rides to D1’s, and then never played a down of college football, or spent the entire time on specials teams waiting for his shot at receiver or QB.

  9. @Scooterp, I know Zach has answered your question but I just want to make a point. You spent 11 years at that place 8 with the jerk, got compensated well(as are the players). Be reminded most of the great ones (player) will only be here for three year if the money trend is followed. If you came for the University and the long term benys, You can put up with some minor missteps for that short a period of time. When I read your post, I immediately thought of the kids that played basketball for Bobby Knight (I HATE BOBBY KNIGHT), there is no way in H… that those kids were not aware of the personality of BK. They went there for the school and the fact that BK was a dam goo coach. They went because and in spite of BK, they were looking at the long term Benys.

  10. EMK, since you’re bringing up “NCAA violations”, lets hear your opinion on the ones FSU will perhaps be reporting in the next year now that the NCAA is doing an initial discreet questioning about football violations right now?

  11. CreekGator- good response and my comparison was probably more apples and oranges, but I just don’t think you can realistically expect 16/17/18 year olds to make a decision like this with out factoring in their relationship with the coach. Fullwood and Washington responded to the situation very maturely, but would they feel the same way if it was Muschamp and the assistant coach who recruited them that left. Maybe, but I’m not so sure.

  12. d@ john franklin, a player should first be attracted to the school. The system and coaches are just bonuses. Systems and coaching changes happen every year. That school, its tradition and education isnt going any where. I agree if Stewart were starting he wouldnt have went any where and would have dealt with his family issues differently. Though those issues may have been real. They became his way out as well. These kids have a right to play where ever they choose to. I just feel you should wait if you are not totally sold on a school before committing. I understand it is just your word and they are nonbinding, but a mans word is everything.

  13. Solid article Zach. I totally agree gatorbread. They came here to get there education and play football not the other way around. You fight for the opportunity to start as a Gator. You fight for the opportunity of the next level. Very few make it into that one percent of players to move on to the NFL. Education is what your here for first. Transferring isn’t going to change your ability to compete. If you don’t when win the job out right finish your education and give your team your all. Plenty of dudes have to make it through supplemental draft. Your still going to have to beat out the dude in front of you. There is no transferring then so why now? You make it on the team or you don’t. Its got nothing to do with being a star in your small niche high school area.

  14. @ gatorbread and J, both you guys make great point and I agree with MOST. Ijust don’t think that Stewart should be the poster child for your argument. When it comes to FAMILY issues and we don’t know the true or whole story, I think speculating about Family issues and what a kids values are on such an issue should not be debated like this because FLORIDA is suppose to be a team with FAMILY values. JUST MY OPINION, and all of the things you both said maybe true about starting and wanting to get outafter making what was maybe a decision he didn’t want to stick to. I think we should give a pass on this one because WE really don’t know and FAMILY should be Sacred.

  15. As the article implies, Adams and Johnson were on the way out anyway, because they didn’t take care of their own business. They may have had some attachment to coach Hill(who would have only been Adams’ position coach, Johnson’s would have been coach Davis-assuming he stays 4-5 years, a rarity for asst. coaches these days), but I think they were looking for a convenient excuse and moment to “decommitt”, when in reality, they were all but shown the door anyway. Same for Outlaw and Bell.
    It appears coach Muschamp accepts committments, but expects certain things of the recruits before NSD, including doing their schoolwork, and honesty. Doesn’t sound unreasonable to me.

  16. @ Creek Gator I agree kids families should be left off limits. Zach was making a point of kids who were waivering during the recruiting process and how those that were somewhat on the fence are the ones that have chosen to move on for what ever reason. It is important both for the kid himself and the University.There has to be some loyalty to the commitment and that starts with being in love with school first. Everything else should be icing on the cake. JMO Go Gators!!

  17. I’ll try and frame it another way. USC(west), great school, excellent academics, top notch football program – but would you sign off on your kid playing for Kiffin and his coaching clowns? I wouldn’t……….. but wait a minute. USC is a great school with a lot of tradition and little Johnny wants to be an art major and they have one of the best art programs in the country. Sorry, Kiffin will be (for all intent and purposes) will be taking over my role as the father while Johnny is away from home. NO WAY JOSE. The coaching staff is a huge deal.

  18. Is EMK a FSU or Miami troll? I think I’ll go to their website and spout some negative garbage. OH wait a minute, thats right, they don’t have one worth bothering with! Must be why he stays on our site all the time.
    As always, GREAT JOB Zach!

  19. To say a kid should commit to a school and not the people who recruited him, is akin to saying that a person committing to live with someone/marry someone should be committed to the house they move into, even if the person they moved in with leaves!

    There is a saying in sales: “people buy from people”. People choose products and services they buy, often because of the representative, especially when the product or service is substantially similar to a competitors. A sports program and university an athlete is choosing is no different. Substantially similar to other schools/teams and the reason the athlete chooses one school/product over another is the people representing the program/university.

    People make up institutions of all types, family, business, teams, churches, et. al. People de-commit to all of the entities I mentioned when the people who make up those institutions fall too far out of line of the person’s comfort zone or the people leave. Coaching staffs are a large part of the institution the athlete is considering. If that staff changes a person should be allowed to change their mind about being there, without that person being seen as doing something morally wrong.

    It is really our own desire not to lose a talent that compells us to make a case for people should be commiting to the university and not the coaches. It has little regard for the life of the athlete and their right to be in a place with people who the athletes relate with best.