National Signing Day is finally two weeks away. Everything will become official, and the runaround will come to a screeching halt.
Ryan Dickens, a two-star outside linebacker from Hazlet N.J., will not have a team.
You see, Dickens' story is a stark reality of the brutal world of college football recruiting. The high school senior was recruited by former Connecticut football coach Bob DIaco and shut down his process in June of 2016. Diaco was fired after the season, and Randy Edsall took the helm.
But Edsall had different plans in mind for the direction of his program, and DIckens wasn't part of them. On a night that was supposed to be filled with happiness as the 6-foot-2, 210 pound linebacker received the Raritan High School 2016 Mini Max Award given to an athlete who excels on the field, in the classroom and in the community, Dickens' dreams were shattered.
"And then he put the phone on speaker and Edsall said,' No Ry, we just decided we're going to go in another direction. We don't have a spot for you,'" Dickens' mother, Patti, told NJ.com.
This is just another reminder of how flawed today's system truly is. What is the point of committing to play at a program if nothing is set in stone? On both sides, someone is always prone to heartbreak.
Over the last few weeks, we've seen highly coveted recruits back out of their commitments. I don't blame them. They are bombarded with tweets from rabid fan bases. They receive texts and phone calls from various coaching staffs and scouts. We are talking about 17 and 18 year-old kids, after all.
— Cody (@codydav7) January 18, 2017
In Dickens' case, it was the new coach and team that broke the commitment. Yes, Edsall never agreed to bring him on with a scholarship. He's a new coach under a great deal of pressure, and clearly he didn't believe Dickens' fit his system. There are plenty of knowledgeable media minds bashing Edsall's decision, most notably, Paul Finebaum of ESPN.
I understand Finebaum's point but I think this is a product of the NCAA rules and not an indictment of Edsall and the UConn coaching staff. The timing was awful, but there are no rules locking players into schools until National Signing day.
How hard is it to create a system making Signing Day the focal point? Players can express interest and teams can say they might bring a particular player in, but it should be abundantly clear that nothing is official until that day. No more meaningless verbal commitments. No more promises of scholarships if they can't be 100 percent guaranteed.
It's impossible not to feel for this kid. For now, his lifelong dream of becoming a college football player is crushed. Oh, and DIckens might just be a "two-star prospect," but the kid has some talent, as shown in the video above.