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Battle of Los Angeles turns to middle school for reinforcements

Dr. Saturday

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(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Are you old enough to officially be considered a teenager? Then congratulations, as you are now old enough to be recruited by major college football programs as an inevitable but discomforting trend continues.

In 2010, USC head coach Lane Kiffin received a verbal commitment from then-13-year-old quarterback David Sills of Delaware. Earlier this week, he offered another middle schooler a chance to play for the Trojans. In an apparent attempt to not get left behind in this particular recruiting war, UCLA head coach Jim Mora has extended a scholarship offer to eighth grader Lindell Stone of Texas.

We should be clear that this is not only happening on the west coast, as Alabama, LSU, Texas, Ole Miss, Florida, Florida State and Nebraska have all offered Baton Rouge eighth grader Dylan Moses. (UCLA also has an offer in to the defensive back/running back.)

Let’s also be sure to point out that all of these offers and commitments are essentially meaningless. Schools can’t submit official offers until August 1st of a player’s senior year in high school (section 13.9.2.2), a very long way off for all of these soon-to-be prep freshmen. And even those offers mean nothing until a player signs a National Letter of Intent in February of their senior year. Until that point, they’re allowed to switch their verbal commitment as many times as they want until pen meets paper and paper meets fax machine.

This is a sign of coaches trying to get their foot in the door earlier and earlier with elite recruits (or players they think will be elite recruits in three years), as the football recruiting process begins to look more and more like college hoops. (This is not a good thing.)

Mora beat the Trojans twice in his first season running the Bruins program, winning on the field (38-28 in a game that also resulted in a season-ending injury to USC quarterback Matt Barkley) and on the recruiting trail (collecting the Rivals eighth-ranked class versus USC’s thirteenth*). The intracity feud goes far beyond the football field, as USC recently poached 2 brain researchers from their rivals.

* Worth noting that USC was working with a reduced number of scholarships due to NCAA sanctions and that UCLA gaining the late addition of five-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes isn’t factored in to those rankings.

How are things going for Sills, the 13-year-old Kiffin offered back in 2010? He’s now 6’3”, but was only able to play in three games during the 2012 season because the virtual high school his dad founded (no, seriously) wasn’t sanctioned by the state of Maryland.

UPDATE: Not to be outdone, ESPN is reporting that Kentucky has offered seventh-grader Jairus Brents.

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