Ugly realities of modern-day recruiting

June, 23, 2008

Once again, one of the ugly realities of modern-day recruiting has come to light. This time it centers around Xavier Ramos, a promising safety at Southern California power St. Bonaventure High who had called Oregon to accept its scholarship offer. Problem is, a few days later, Ducks assistant Steve Greatwood phoned him back to say that the school had received a commitment from another player and that they no longer had a scholarship available for Ramos.

This was after Ramos had received one of those typed-out, official-looking scholarship offer letters. Most schools send these out after they have been vetted by an attorney and they usually have some kind of stipulation (re: out) so that the program doesn't get itself into too messy of a situation publicly. (Ole Miss' official offer letter had two main stipulations: that the player's grades not become an issue hindering the admissions process, and that the prospect's level of play does not dip below the staff's expectations.) That last one basically could've meant wiggle room for anyone. Other programs let the player know that they are only offering a certain number of scholarships at a given position and if other prospects accept their offer first, other recruit's offer letter can be invalidated.

The offer letter has become a trendy thing in recruiting. Schools use it as a carrot. Recruits collect them like awards. In truth, they can be as meaningless as the paper they are printed on, as Ramos found out.

News of Oregon slamming the door on Ramos isn't sitting well at St. Bonaventure. Coach Todd Therrien called what the Ducks did "tragic." Ramos does have another offer from Army and Arizona has shown interest, Therrian adds. Ramos also went on the radio apparently and said he'd love to go play for Oregon State so he could pay back Mike Bellotti's program. And yes, there are repercussions to the Ducks' back-tracking.

"Oregon is not welcome here," Therrien told the Merced Sun. "I don't want to see them on campus at all."

It's embarrassing attention for Oregon, but I doubt it'll really have much impact beyond getting back into St. Bonaventure. Many college programs have a high school or a high school coach who doesn't want that school or that college's recruiter coming onto their campus to recruit their players for one reason or another. Although I'm pretty sure other recruiters will alert Oregon targets of how Bellotti's staff wronged this player.

It will be interesting to see where Ramos ends up and what kind of impact he has down the road. Over the years there have been a lot of slighted guys who have proven to be great college players. The motivational snub certainly seems to help. Then again, if the kid has been offered by Army he's already probably got a pretty special work ethic.

Random Stuff
• Pitt's incoming freshmen put on an impressive display at the Big 33 Football Classic, Kevin Gorman writes:

"On the first play of the game, Central Catholic quarterback Tino Sunseri threw a 37-yard pass to Aliquippa receiver Jonathan Baldwin. Minutes later, they hooked up again for a 10-yard touchdown. After Central defensive back Andrew Taglianetti blocked a field goal, Sunseri followed with a 50-yard run that set up his 5-yard scoring pass to Gateway receiver Cameron Saddler, who later caught a 79-yarder for a touchdown. Norwin receiver Mike Shanahan had three catches for 59 yards, Easton cornerback Jarred Holley had a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter, and Johnstown safety Antwuan Reed made several big stops."

• Rutgers continues to sizzle on the recruiting trail, Tom Luicci writes:

"Gerald Hodges, one of the top players in South Jersey and projected, for now, as a safety in college, was the latest to join the fold when he gave head coach Greg Schiano a verbal commitment for 2009. The two-sport star from Paulsboro High School became the 16th player in a class that is shaping up as the best in school history."

Hodges picked RU over Penn State.

• Ray Ray McElrathbey's planning to transfer to Howard University after his planned graduation from Clemson in August, according to Larry Williams.

• FSU linebacker Nigel Carr has shed 20 pounds and is looking good at 224, reports Steve Ellis.

Nole strength coach Todd Stroud says Carr is one of FSU's younger players who is boosting the program's attitude.

" I think they bring some competitiveness to the team right off the bat we haven't had here," Stroud said. "Some toughness. And kind of a fresh attitude probably more so than anything else."

• K-State's loss will be USC's gain. According to Ryan Aber, D-lineman Tony Gillespie is rerouting from the Big 12 school and will go to junior college for a semester before a planned transfer to USC.

"I just didn't want to say anything about it earlier because I didn't want Kansas State to look bad," Gillespie said. "But I am going to USC."

Gillespie will serve a "greyshirt" year split between the College of the Canyons and USC.

• I saw "Charlie Wilson's War" over the weekend. I liked it a lot. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was outstanding. When I first heard about the movie months back I remember thinking, "What is this about? His battle to break free from his brothers Ronnie and Robert?"

Obviously, I was wrong.



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