Recruiting is a dangerous habit

sports@macon.comFebruary 5, 2013 

Just call me a recovering recruitnik.

That’s what you call folks who are hooked on college football recruiting, and there are plenty of people who will plead guilty, especially on Wednesday -- National Signing Day.

Back before the Internet (remember those days?) we had to actually go out and buy magazines to know which college prospects to look for each year. Yes, I still have copies of Jeff Whitaker and Forrest Davis’ publications.

I would wait as newspapers, like The Telegraph, would publish their top prospect lists for the state and the Southeast.

Larry Munson would have guests on his talk show in Atlanta, like Max Emfinger, a recruiting analyst from Dallas. And who wants to admit they would go listen in their car to the station in Nashville? Bob Bell and Bill King talked recruiting every night in January on their show back in the 1990s.

That was before we could listen to any radio station on our phone or on the computer. You couldn’t hear that station in Nashville on a radio in your home, so you had to go out to the car and listen that way on the old trusty AM car radio.

There was a TV show called “Countdown to Signing Day,” which would provide video. I actually even hosted the state shows in that series one year.

Then when the Internet came along, things became a bit different, even easier to get the scoop. We had instant news -- as long as we constantly hit the refresh button on the computer. And I’m sure a few of you have done just that -- sat on a message board and hit refresh to see what you might have missed in the four seconds since you last hit the button.

But that all changed for me a few years ago. It just became too much. I grew tired of learning all the names, learning all the schools players were interested in and simply knowing too much about kids who might not amount to much of anything on the football field.

Plus, I was tired of putting too much energy into knowing all about a kid who I thought would help my favorite team, only to see him sign with someone else and, get this … disappoint me.

I was reminded of why I became more of a casual recruiting observer last week. Laremy Tunsil, the top rated offensive tackle in the country from Lake City, Fla., had been considered by most analysts a lock for Georgia.

There wasn’t one person who believed he was going anywhere but Athens. When people talked with Tunsil, it was obvious he loved the Bulldogs. Other players even talked about how Tunsil was ready to come in and start from day one in the red and black.

And then all of a sudden, word broke last week that Tunsil was headed to Mississippi. It was out of the blue. Most believed Alabama would be Georgia’s biggest competitor for Tunsil, but then he was supposedly headed to Oxford.

That’s when everything hit the fan. Rumors started that Ole Miss was up to something. The Rebels had to be, right? How could Ole Miss, of all programs, swing a player from Florida who was down to the two best teams in the SEC?

Who knows if there are any shenanigans going on. But it’s natural for people to wonder. It’s also easy to believe Georgia’s recruiting just became a Dan Uggla at bat. The Bulldogs are striking out too much on the top players on their board.

Then you have the case of Reuben Foster, the top linebacker in the country who was at Troup County. He committed to Alabama last summer. Then his high school coach got fired. Then Foster moved to Auburn, Ala., and went to high school there. Then he committed to Auburn. Then he got a tattoo on his forearm of the Auburn logo. Then he re-opened his recruitment to include Georgia.

And then, Monday night on television, he committed to Alabama again.

Whew.

The appropriate word is circus. Yet Wednesday, I’ll fall off the wagon once again and really care where all these kids are going.

It’s the hot stove league for college football, and if you love this sport, you just can’t help yourself.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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