Mission Hills Fred Warner sacks Bakersfield's quarterback Asauni Rufus during the SoCal Regional Division I high school football game between Mission Hills and Bakersfield High School in San Marcos Friday night
Can you blame Fred Warner?
Last week, the ESPN.com four-star rated Mission Hills linebacker scheduled and took an official visit to see the University of Southern California. Originally scheduled for two weeks prior, the visit was postponed so that Warner could participate in the B2G Sports West Coast bowl.
No harm, no foul, right?
In April, Warner verbally committed to Brigham Young University, withdrawing himself from the recruiting market.
“"I loved the atmosphere there," said Warner, whose mother attended BYU for a time. "I loved the coaches. And the players really seem to have a brotherhood. "Plus, BYU's two outside linebackers are seniors, so there is a great opportunity to play as a freshman."
By no means did Warner put ink to paper. National Signing Day is Wednesday. That’s when most recruits sign and mail/fax their letters of intent, sealing their collegiate, athletic futures.
However, it is a commitment nonetheless. And should weigh heavily; a school saves a scholarship for the recruit, ensuring their spot in the future.
Unfortunately, in some cases, it doesn’t.
“It’s along the lines of, ‘this is my number one school right now,” said Greg Biggins, a FoxSports/Scout.com national recruiting analyst. “I don’t want to use the word epidemic, but a verbal commitment means nothing.”
Other schools fail to honor verbal commitments; they continue to aggressively recruit kids even more, hoping to manipulate, persuade, then swipe already verbally-committed athletes — such as Warner — away from programs.
This past season alone, Warner received heavier interest from Nebraska, USC, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, UCLA, Washington State, Utah and Boise State. He blossomed into an elite linebacker — 37th in the nation at his position.
And yes, the interest succeeded Warner’s BYU verbal.
But, back to the question: can you blame Warner?
The answer remains a resounding “no.”
A number of scouts said that, in most cases, verbally-committed recruits entertain pitches and take official visits to schools to either complete the once-in-a-lifetime experience or simply go to have fun and get wined and dined.
Warner’s case — I’m told — differs.
He may entertain pitches from the dozens of schools that want him in their program for fours years, but he’s selective in official visits because none of the lagniappe piques his interest.
“It’s a business like approach,” said ESPN.com reporter Blair Angulo, who covers USC football recruiting. “(Fred) is assessing every option. He’s making sure he does his due diligence and chooses a school that best fits him.”
A respectable, intelligent approach from an intelligent kid.
That’s not to say Warner is right for courting other schools. He gave his word to BYU. However, he’s earned the right to consider those late options and make the best decision for his future.
The kid work his tail off this season to become the player he is today, which brought about more “prestigious” scholarship offers than he or anyone else may have thought possible.
I’m sure when Warner issued his verbal, he believed the process was over. But, he would be crazy not to at least listen to schools that came late to the party.
This is his future, after all.