0

Changing commitment not easy for recruits

Last summer, Jessel Curry and Ju'Wuan James knew where they were going to college.

However, over the last six months those locations have changed. The duo will enroll at schools different than the ones they originally committed to in the offseason.

That's one of the tough parts of college recruiting, making an early commitment and going back and changing it. It was a dilemma Curry and James had to face during the recruiting process.

Curry called the West Virginia football coaching staff during the summer and gave the Mountaineers a soft verbal commitment.

Then things got interesting for the Buford linebacker.

Auburn offered Curry a scholarship the next day and it left the senior in a predicament a lot of the top high school football players face: Keep to your word and stay with the school you committed to or go back on your word and change schools.

"My mom and dad have really high morals, so they told me once I commit I should honor it," Curry said. "But it's also my future and my choice, so I should do what I want to do."

Curry visited Auburn and eventually committed to the Tigers. A decision he never considered changing again. He graduated from Buford in December and will enroll at Auburn later this month.

The change of heart was just a matter of bad timing for Curry. But sometimes the pressure of making a college decision can become overwhelming.

Coaches bombard players with phone calls and letters and it eventually can become too much for a teenager. A player sometimes makes a commitment just to stop getting all of the attention.

James felt that pressure early in the recruiting process. The North Gwinnett offensive tackle was one of the top offensive line prospects in the nation after an impressive showing at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine last January. The basketball player turned football player had 35 scholarship offers when he committed to Alabama in May.

"I made my decision because at the time I really wanted to go there," James said. "But I changed my mind and now I'm where I want to be."

James decommitted during the football season from Alabama and later chose Tennessee. He will enroll at the Knoxville school later this month.

Curry and James aren't the first Gwinnett players to change their college decisions. It has been a part of the recruiting process for a long time.

Buford's Omar Hunter was the last big-time recruit from Gwinnett to change his mind. The defensive tackle chose Notre Dame in the summer of 2007 and then decommitted after some consideration a few months later. He signed with Florida in February 2008.

Players often feel the pressure to make an early commitment before their season starts in fear of losing a scholarship offer later in the year.

To levy the burden of making a college decision so soon, some coaches feel the NCAA should change the current recruiting practices.

"The NCAA needs to do something," Peachtree Ridge head coach Bill Ballard said. "There needs to be an early signing period or limit when a kid can be offered."

An early signing period may benefit players in the future as colleges recruit players that are younger and younger every year.

It might have helped Curry and James, but the duo are happy with their final college decisions.

"It was a tough process, but you have to do what is best for you," James said.