In college football recruiting today, it's never too early. The entire process has been accelerated. It's so fast that one young star in Fairburn, Georgia, has decided where to play his college football even though he hasn't played a down of high school football yet.
His name is Evan Berry and he's the younger brother of Tennessee safety Eric Berry. Evan Berry said Monday that he has decided to follow in his brother and father's footsteps and play for the Volunteers.
"Yes, I committed to Tennessee," Evan said. "It's the only college I know right now and it seems the best for me. My dad went there and my brother is there now. I know I can do the same things there. I have a real friendly relationship with the coaches there. I know I don't know them too well but I know I will have plenty of time to get to know them.
"I want to play in the secondary and I want to play for coach (Monte) Kiffin."
Monte Kiffin (above, with Eric Berry) is 69 years old. He makes a million dollars as a coordinator. Even if Lane Kiffin is still in Knoxville when Evan is eligible to sign in five years -- a risky bet, maybe even if he wins -- Monte's interests are going to increasingly include "Wheel of Fortune" and "the couch."
But even that is to concede that this "commitment" actually exists, which it does not, and cannot, because the concept of a 13-year-old who has yet to step on a high school field "committing" to an "offer" is beyond the reach of the term "accelerated"; it's beyond the reach of language, really. Where it relates to a 13-year-old who has yet to step on a high school field, even a particularly well-connected 13-year-old with good genes and an obviously bright future, the terms "offer" and "commitment" have no meaning. "Recruiting," in the sense that coaches are aware of him at all and might be interested in scouting him, eventually, when there's something to scout, remains a very nebulous concept. Eighth graders do not yet exist in that realm.
It's not just that the rules in this case cloud the already murky recruiting rhetoric beyond recognition -- schools can't submit "official" offers until Sept. 1 of a player's junior year in high school (still more than three years away for Evan Berry), and neither school nor recruit is bound to an "offer" or a "commitment" until there's an actual signature on signing day (still four-and-a-half years away for Evan Berry) -- or that any teenage kid is likely to change his mind on a near-weekly basis between the ages of 13 and 18 (again, if the coaches don't change their minds, or their addresses), or that Berry has no grades; not good grades or bad grades, but, where a university is concerned, no grades. The absurdity is less practical than any of that, in that the usual language here is not even applicable: By any definition of the word as it's used in recruiting, there can be no such thing as a "commitment" by a 13-year-old. It's a contradiction in terms, like a four-sided triangle or something. He wants to go to Tennessee. He plans to go to Tennessee, eventually. But he cannot be "committed" to go to Tennessee. It's debatable whether a middle-schooler can even be "committed" to playing football at all.
So Evan Berry is not committed to Tennessee. That is all. You may now return to your regularly scheduled message board stalking.