Locker Room: Football in a bit of limbo, but recruiting heating up

Football at all levels is presently in a bit of limbo. Most conversations are now about will we take to the gridiron in the fall, and not if we can salvage baseball or racing in the summer. An unwanted virus has done shocking damage to our country in a thousand ways, but the question seems to become more and more prevalent each day, has the cure become far more damaging than the virus? One day we will know that answer, but our country is getting restless. The limits on day to day life have become understandably irritating in some states.

The Locker Room will take a close look next week and begin a short series on just what are the prospects for football at all levels for 2020. I’m not sure our nation really knows how financially devastating a year without football would be. In short, minor, non-revenue sports are looking at the chopping block. While enthusiasts were understandably disappointed with the loss of spring activities in both colleges and high schools across the nation, athletic budgets actually got a financial break.

Louisville made a 15% cut in its athletic budget this week. Cincinnati has already killed both men’s and women’s soccer. If we do not play college football this next season, those cuts will seem like child’s play. Already to prepare for cutbacks if necessary, the NCAA has been asked by D1 schools to discard the requirement that each school must fund 16 varsity sports. The writing is on the wall. Just the loss of the NCAA Basketball Tournament resulted in NCAA schools splitting $235 million instead of an anticipated $635 million. When you’re talking about splitting revenue among 353 teams, the cut declines rapidly.

But there is one area that continues to hit on all cylinders, at least for many college football programs and that is recruiting. It seems daily there is big news. This week one of the top-rated players in the nation and Clemson’s top-rated recruit, defensive end Korey Foreman, decommitted from the Tigers.

It ended up being a mutual decision between he and Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney. It centered around program policy and Clemson has a policy that most programs dare not attempt. Sweeney says that if a player commits to Clemson, he cannot take any additional visits and if he does, he forfeits his commitment to the Tigers. I like it.

Foreman hopes things open up because he wants to travel. He’s from California and he wants to see what LSU, and Ohio State are like, and he also has ties to local school USC who is trying to reappear on the national recruiting stage. What does it mean to Clemson? Foreman may still decide to commit to the Tigers, but he’s hoping the virus concerns will fade and he’ll get to do some traveling.

But at this time, Sweeney and his Clemson program is one of the few that virtually selects its recruits. So, if necessary, Foreman’s spot will be replaced in fine fashion. It should be noted that many schools offer as many as 500 scholarships in a given year. Last year Clemson only had 38 players visit campus, and only offered those 38, and 24 of them became Tigers. Most programs dream of being about to operate that way.

But it has created a change and North Carolina has the second highest rated recruiting class in the nation behind Ohio State. The Buckeyes continue to lead the way and OSU is having a dream recruiting class. Another 4 star committed this week, that makes three 5-stars and a dozen 4-stars according to “247.” After Carolina it’s Florida in third, Clemson falls to 4th, USC has climbed to 5th, Notre Dame is six, Minnesota a surprising 7th, Georgia eight, Wisconsin nine, and Miami 10.

West Virginia is 18th with two 4-star recruits, and five 3’s. Virginia Tech is 23rd with two 4’s, and four 3-stars. Virginia is 39th with five 3-star players. Tech also has landed a transfer defensive end this week in Justus Reed from Youngstown State. It’s his third school. Reed originally went to Florida.

The Hokies continue to pan for gold in Texas. Justin Fuente is particularly trying to find offensive players that fit his spread type offense, and he’s working hard on speed, and skill position players. Tech’s two 4-star recruits, quarterback Dematrius Davis and wide receiver Latrell Neville are both from Texas, and the Hokies are reported to have offered 46 players from the Lone Star state.

However, it may be difficult for the Hokies to hang onto Davis. He is openly looking around and has already committed to at least three visits when recruiting reopens. Davis appears to be very interested in Auburn, plus Miami and Arizona State could also be in the picture. Such is the world of recruiting.