Rivals.com three-star defensive tackle recruit Sterling Johnson had his mind made up.
The class of 2015 prospect from Clayton, N.C. called the University of Tennessee on Tuesday to tell the coaches that he had chosen to play for the Volunteers. Instead of hearing cheers on the other end, according to the Charlotte Observer, Johnson found out that the verbal scholarship offer he believed he received from the program months ago was not an official offer.
Johnson told TigerIllustrated.com that Tennessee would not accept his commitment due to the current state of the team's depth chart at defensive tackle. The coaches wanted Johnson and the other defensive tackles with offers to come to a summer camp to be evaluated again and potentially earn an official offer.
Johnson was not interested. He committed to Clemson instead.
“They (Tennessee) dropped it on me out of the blue,” Johnson told the Observer. “Never a hint of this. I told them a month ago that they were my leader, and they seemed excited about me coming then.”
After Tennessee’s rejection Tuesday night, Johnson told the Observer he knew that Tennessee was not the place for him because “he thought he had been misled and said he felt betrayed.” Later that night,, Johnson and his family decided Clemson was the right place. He called the school and said that Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney was excited.
“I love Clemson and really like coach Swinney. Clemson wasn’t my first choice, but it was the best choice,” Johnson said.
A situation like Johnson’s is fairly common in the recruiting world. Coaches may tell a player that he has a scholarship offer, but those offers are not 100 percent legitimate until they are in writing. Written scholarships do not officially go out to prospects until August of a player’s senior year, and their verbal commitment is not binding until national signing day in February.
Teams may only have a certain number of spots available at a certain position, so they wait until a player on the top of their board makes a decision, which leaves other players who may want to attend their school in limbo. It seems like that is what happened to Johnson here.
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