NCF On The Trail: Biggest decommit team history

The One Who Got Away: Gunner Kiel 

January, 31, 2013
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BATON ROUGE -- LSU is a big enough player in the recruiting game that it receives its share of big-name decommitments.

But you'll be hard pressed to find one who has affected a program's fan culture like Gunner Kiel.

You might know Kiel as a backup quarterback at Notre Dame, but, a little more than a year ago, he was one of the nation's top prep quarterbacks and he was committed to LSU.

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The One Who Got Away: QB Beaver 

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Every program has them. Prospects who decommit and go on to other programs to turn into star players, leaving fans wondering what could have been. It’s a part of recruiting and always will be.

Michigan is no different, but one of the biggest decommitments in the program’s history wasn’t a negative. In fact, the decommitment of quarterback Shavodrick Beaver from the 2009 class ended up benefiting the Wolverines and made room for one of the biggest playmakers in Michigan history, Denard Robinson.


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The One Who Got Away: Dan Kendra 

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When college coaches gazed across the field at Bethlehem (Pa.) Catholic's quarterback, they saw visions of Joe Montana and Joe Namath.

When the ball rolled off high schooler Dan Kendra's fingertips, fans thought of Dan Marino. When he circled his team in the huddle, he seemed like Jim Kelly. In 1994, Pennsylvania's favorite son was just 18 years old -- but he was already counted on to be the next great signal-caller. A surefire Hall of Famer whose father joked that even Joe Paterno wouldn't be tempted to turn this stout athlete into a linebacker.

Before the digital age, back in the era of pogs and Saturday morning cartoons, Kendra might have been the most recognizable high school player in the world. He was USA Today's Offensive Player of the Year, ESPN's Player of the Year, Parade's Player of the Year and SuperPrep's Player of the Year. He was everybody's player of the year.

[+] EnlargeDan Kendra
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesDan Kendra was a physical specimen who eventually ended up playing fullback at Florida State.
He was Tom Lemming and Max Emfinger's No. 1-rated quarterback. And National Recruiting Advisor also ranked the square-chinned kid -- who threw for 1,988 yards and 21 TDs and rushed for another 718 yards as a senior -- as the top QB in the country.

And, in December 1994, he was all Penn State's.


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The One Who Got Away: Greg Reid 

January, 31, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No matter how much work a coach puts into recruiting a player, sometimes things just don’t work out.

Relationships change. Situations change. Feelings get hurt. There can be outside interference, maybe a family member exerting pressure to pick another school.

All those things can lead to a recruit changing his mind and decommitting.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When Keenan Allen committed to the University of Alabama, he said he could hear the joy in coach Nick Saban's voice. He told reporters it was the happiest he'd heard the coach in all the times he had spoken with him.

"He just told me welcome to the Alabama family and that he hoped I was ready to go to work," Allen said at the time of his commitment.

The former four-star athlete's word didn't hold long, though.


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The One Who Got Away: Da'Rick Rogers 

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ATHENS, Ga. -- To this point, no decommitment has resonated more loudly during Mark Richt’s Georgia tenure than when Da’Rick Rogers flipped from the Bulldogs to Tennessee just before national signing day in 2010.


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The One Who Got Away: Kyle Kalis 

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The masses in the business were questioned. The names came back -- and there were few, but they kept coming back to one.

The question: Which would-be Ohio State target who gave a pledge to the Buckeyes before signing with another school turned out to be a big miss for the scarlet and gray?

Although there isn't a lot of data out there from the pre-recruiting-writing era, a scant few names jumped to the surface.

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Most programs would dwell on the fact that they lost a future Heisman Trophy winner after earning his commitment.

[+] EnlargeManziel
Kelly Kline/USA TODAY SportsJohnny Manziel made Heisman Trophy history, but the Oregon Ducks have no problem with their current quarterback from the same recruiting class.
Luckily for the Oregon Ducks, getting a commitment from Marcus Mariota made losing Johnny Manziel from the Class of 2011 easy to absorb. Mariota and Manziel both committed to the Ducks within two weeks of ESPN 150 QB Jerrard Randall doing the same.

At the time, most followers were focused on Randall, who was the biggest name at the time. Randall eventually signed with LSU after academic issues with Oregon and is currently enrolled at Northeast Mississippi Community College. Manziel won the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M and Mariota had a fabulous redshirt freshman season with the Ducks.

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Washington’s 2011 recruiting class will always be remembered as the year the Huskies landed a pair of hometown heroes.

They signed two ESPN 150 standouts in receiver Kasen Williams (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Gig Harbor, Wash./Gig Harbor).

Keeping those prospects home was considered a big recruiting win for the Huskies, who signed 24 players that year, putting together a top 25 class. They beat out national powerhouses. It was a sure sign the program was on the rise.

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The One Who Got Away: RB Thomas 

January, 31, 2013
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In a topsy-turvy recruiting season that has had Trojans fans teetering on the brink of insanity with the decommitments of one-time USC verbals Eddie Vanderdoes, Max Redfield, Eldridge Massington, Sebastian LaRue and Kylie Fitts -- not to mention the uncertain status of others such as Jalen Ramsey and Torrodney Prevot -- it’s worth taking a quick look back to signing day 2011. While the saga of the Class of 2013 has been filled with plenty of drama, nothing compares to the way Lane Kiffin and his staff were rocked by the last-second defection of De’Anthony Thomas.


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The One Who Got Away: Ryan Perrilloux 

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One of the greatest signing day stunners will go down in history as, believe it or not, a mutually beneficial one.

Texas has been on the losing end of some legendary recruiting battles -- Marcus Dupree and Eric Dickerson top the list -- but when it comes to decommitments, few top the story of Ryan Perrilloux.


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When Missouri made a strong run at ESPN 150 wide receiver Durron Neal (St. Louis/De Smet Jesuit) last year, all Oklahoma fans could do was hold their breath.

Would it happen again? Not this time. Neal stuck with the Sooners, easing some of the pain caused years ago by another Missouri high school product who initially committed to OU before ending up with the Tigers.


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In the state where football is king, the story is legend.

When it comes to decommitments, there's one that any Texas A&M fan who was closely following the Aggies in the late 1970s remembers well. And thanks to ESPN's acclaimed 30 for 30 sports documentary series, now countless sports fans know about the biggest one that got away:

[+] EnlargeEric Dickerson
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesEric Dickerson is considered one of the best running backs to ever play the game.
Eric Dickerson.

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The One Who Got Away: Joe Mauer 

January, 31, 2013
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There isn't just one reason for Florida State's gradual decline after playing for the national championship following the 2000 season, but one that can’t be overlooked was recruiting -- and the recruiting of quarterbacks, in particular.

Solid, consistent play at the position evaporated with the departure of Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, though many expected the Seminoles to restock as they always had. However, one defection turned those plans upside down.

[+] Enlarge Joe Mauer
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesJoe Mauer threw 73 touchdown passes in high school before becoming a three-time AL batting champion with the Minnesota Twins.
This wasn't a decommitment; this was another option, and another sport.

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