RECRUITING NOTES: College coaching changes shake up recruiting

Brett Sheehan thought he was done with the whole recruiting process.

The Collins Hill quarterback committed to Florida International in June, so he could focus on his final high school season.

Sheehan followed FIU's games every week, wore their shirts and sweatshirts and talked regularly to the coaching staff. There was no doubt in his mind that he would be playing in Miami next season.

"Yeah, that was it," Sheehan said. "I thought that's where I would go and I could focus on my season and get ready to go to Florida International."

Things aren't that easy in college football or in the recruiting world.

FIU head coach Mario Cristobal was fired in December and Sheehan de-committed one day later. Now a once-sure decision is unclear again.

"It really caught me by surprise," Sheehan said. "Coach Cristobal turned down some jobs the previous year. They had a bad year and some bad quarterback play. I didn't expect this to happen."

Sheehan is not alone. Several Gwinnett County football players can relate to his situation. Central Gwinnett's Trey Johnson committed to Auburn in August 2011 after the Tigers' national championship season. Head coach Gene Chizik was let go in November 2012. Johnson re-opened the recruiting process and committed to Ohio State on Friday.

Norcross' Shon Akins and Archer's Tre Cheek committed to California in the summer. Head coach Jeff Tedford was fired after the season and the Golden Bears named Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes the new head coach.

Cheek is still committed to Cal, but Akins decommitted on Monday.

"Me and the coaching staff weren't on the same page," Akins said.

Sometimes players don't get the chance to de-commit. Grayson's Zach Barnes committed to Tennessee in June for head coach Derek Dooley. Dooley was fired in November and Butch Jones was hired. The Vols requested Barnes look at other schools.

"They told Zach to follow up with other schools," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "It really stinks because he dropped everything else."

But sometimes a coaching change doesn't have an affect. Brookwood's Ky Prister committed to N.C. State in October and head coach Tom O'Brien was fired in November. Dave Doeren was hired in December and Priester flirted with opening his college recruitment again, but is sticking with the Wolfpack.

"Chiln with my dawg Dave Doeren right now!" Priester posted on Twitter on Friday.

There's so much turnover in college coaching, that Conn would like to see the NCAA look after the high school kids involved.

"This goes back to my old philosophy. If a school offers a kid and a kid commits, the NCAA needs to allow them to sign early," Conn said. "They lose opportunities to go other places. It's really not fair to either party."

College recruiting has become more about relationships with players and coaches and what type of systems they run. It's less about playing for this historic school or that school's tradition.

"We tell them that all the time," Conn said. "We tell them to go because they love the school. But a lot will go because of their relationship with the coaches and schematics for what they can play. Now it's more about relationships with coaches."

Sheehan has used the FIU situation as a learning experience. With a month until National Signing Day, he doesn't plan to make a decision too hastily. He has an official visit set up for Georgia State on Jan. 18 and is looking at other schools from the FBS to the FCS level.

"I definitely don't want to rush anything," Sheehan said. "I want to take all my official visits. I've got a lot of advice from my cousin (Kyle Sheehan). You never know what can happen. You can only worry about the things you control."

Norcross' Akins decommits from Cal

Norcross defensive back Shon Akins de-committed from the University of California on Monday after he was told to find another school.

"I didn't get calls from them and it started worrying me," Akins said. "Then they called and told me Cal wouldn't be best for me. They told me I had to find another home."

Akins committed to Cal last spring for head coach Jeff Tedford. Tedford was fired in November and the Golden Bears named Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes the new head coach.

In between coaches, Akins was told from the Cal athletic department that they would still honor his scholarship offer.

"The AD called me and told me everything's fine. Cal was committed to me," Akins said. "Then they hit me with a change-up. It was no hard feelings, they just told me so late in the process."

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Akins recorded 91 tackles to help lead Norcross to the Class AAAAAA state championship. Akins was selected to the Daily Post's all-county team and was a first-team all-state selection. He played in the North-South All-Star game and returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown.

Akins has offers from Georgia State, Florida Atlantic, Fresno State and Troy.

"If everything doesn't go as planned and I don't get a big D-I offer, I'll probably sign with Georgia State," said Akins, who will make his decision on National Signing Day. "The coaches came to my house and I like them." Nation's top JUCO tackler still undecided

North Gwinnett 2010 grad Trey Sims led the junior college league in tackles per game this season but is still undecided about his next college.

Sims posted 133 tackles in nine games last season at North Dakota State College of Science for a 14.8 average to lead the nation.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Sims holds offers from Garnder-Webb and South Dakota State School of Mines. He's received interest from Northwood University, Northern California and Northern Iowa.

Sims, who has a 3.0 GPA, signed with South Alabama out of high school, but transferred after one season. He cannot enroll at a four-year school until May after graduating from North Dakota State College of Science.


What: National Signing Day

When: Feb. 6

Noteworthy: National Signing Day is the first day a high school football player can sign a National Letter of Intent with a college