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Friday, April 26, 2013
Recruits struggle to understand rules

By Tom VanHaaren

NCAA recruiting rules are some of the more scrutinized pieces of legislation, given the nature of the beast. The rules are complicated and, in many real-life scenarios, don't make a lot of sense to recruits. The rules are put forth to structure the recruiting process, but are they really making the process easier for coaches and recruits?

With recruiting happening faster and faster, some prospects said they believe a few rules need revamping. NCAA Bylaw, the “bump” rule, for instance, states, "Off-campus recruiting contacts shall not be made with an individual (or his or her relatives or legal guardians) before July 1 following the completion of his or her junior year in high school."

Ferns Some of those rules could be changed for the benefit of communication. There were situations where we thought we were being ignored, but they just weren't allowed to contact back.

-- Michigan LB commit Michael Ferns
As of April 24, according to RecruitingNation's database, 332 junior prospects had committed to play college football. No college coach was allowed to make contact with any of those prospects off campus, though.

"It seems absurd. If they're going to come all the way to your school and shake your hand, how is a recruit supposed to think anything differently about that program from that," Michigan QB commit Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School) said. "I don't think the coaches should have unlimited time, but if you allowed them five, 10 or 15 minutes just to give them a shot to sell their program, that would be better."

While that might be difficult to regulate, it would at least give the prospects and coaches some face time that could benefit both sides.

None of those 332 committed prospects has had the opportunity to take an official visit, either. Any visit that has been taken to a college campus to this point has been on the prospect's family's dime. The NCAA says official visits can't begin until the opening day of classes of the prospect's senior year in high school.

With the way recruiting has gone in recent years, many recruits already have gone through the entire process and figured out where they would like to go by the time they are even allowed to take an official visit. The result is their parents have spent money on visits and the prospect doesn't get to take advantage of a paid visit, something some recruits also believe could use revamping.

"Based on the interest level of the school, they should start official visits during your junior year," wide receiver Corey Holmes (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) said. "Where the school can invite you to take an official visit and let you know that you can take the official. That would give you the opportunity to know what the school has to offer during the decision-making process."

College coaches also are limited in the amount of phone calls they are allowed to make during different periods of time. During the evaluation period from April 15 to May 31 of a prospect's junior year, coaching staffs are permitted to make only one phone call to each prospect. That’s it until Sept. 1 of the prospect's senior year, when coaches are then allowed to call once per week.

"Some of those rules could be changed for the benefit of communication. There were situations where we thought we were being ignored, but they just weren't allowed to contact back," linebacker Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville) said. "In my situation, I would like to contact the Michigan coaches through text messages. Recruits should be able to mark down five schools through the NCAA that can contact you in any way throughout the process to make it easier.

"If you could make an official list and then communicate with those schools, I think that could help. I don't know how they'd regulate it, but it seems better than the current situation."

The NCAA is in the process of deregulating the way coaches will be allowed to communicate with prospects, but it has once again come under a lot of scrutiny. The Division I Board of Directors proposed a change to the rules that would allow college coaches to text message, email, mail and call prospects in an unlimited manner.

The proposal were challenged by a number of coaches who believe the new rule would cause more problems, and the proposal is now in limbo. Oddly enough, recruits feel similarly about the proposed rule changes.

"It's pretty much a double-edged sword from a standpoint of you don't want to be bombarded because it does get pretty hectic, especially if you're a higher-profile guy," said defensive back Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic), who fits the definition of higher-profile as the No. 2 player in the ESPN 150. "But then on the other hand, if you enjoy talking to some of the coaches that's one of your top choices, that kind of hurts them in a way. It kind of makes you feel like you're losing that bond in that relationship that you formed."

It's a double-edged sword with no sheath at this point, as the board of directors needs to figure out a resolution. Regardless of the outcome, recruits have been vocal about their distaste for the current rules and believe there is a better way to police the process.