The Rivals Roundtable returns today with a discussion about decommitments past, present and future.
1. Looking at decommitments among current college players, who would you be most interested to see playing for their original college of choice?
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Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I have a hard time remembering this kind of stuff because broken commitments are as common as street-side produce in South Florida. I guess Isaac Nauta at Florida State would have been interesting, especially this year where it seems FSU could use a Nauta-like threat in the passing game.
Mike Farrell (National): I'll go with USC running back Ronald Jones II and his first commitment to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are poised to have a huge season, especially offensively, and with a weapon like Jones they would be even more scary. His speed and ability to catch the ball in the wide open Big 12 would be interesting to watch and he could have been the key piece to take them to the next level.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): I've talked about this before but I've always wondered what would have happened if Brandon Wimbush stuck with his Penn State commitment instead of flipping to Notre Dame. Yes, Penn State had a great year in 2016 and I don't want to take anything away from that but losing in a shootout to USC in the Rose Bowl puts a spotlight on the passing game. Trace McSorley has certainly outplayed expectations but there isn’t a doubt in my mind Wimbush would have surpassed him on the depth chart. Could Penn State have made it to the College Football Playoffs or further with Wimbush under center?
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): Now that the Texas A&M quarterback transfer mess with Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray is behind us, there's no better time to revisit the fact that Allen could have been a star in College Station, especially with the supporting cast around him. He left for various reasons apparently, talked about the "culture" there and other things but with WR Christian Kirk, some talented RBs and assuredly some skilled-yet-untested WRs, Allen could be among the best QBs in the country. What's interesting now is that Allen's departure could help lead to coach Kevin Sumlin's dismissal if things don't get turned around quickly with the Aggies.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Alabama offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher has done very well for himself during his three years with the Crimson Tide, but it still would have been fun to watch him play for the home-state Iowa Hawkeyes, the program he originally committed to before flipping to Alabama just before his senior year.
Nick Krueger (Texas): Tate Martell at Texas A&M would be a guilty pleasure watch for me as the highly anticipated sequel to the ‘Johnny Football’ era. A similar sort of player with the off-field persona to match would be great drama to follow along with. Add in the feud he had with current Aggies quarterback Nick Starkel, and we were robbed of some provocative television on Saturdays.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Van Jefferson signed with Ole Miss in 2015 after decommitting from Georgia. It is not that he isn't a fit at Ole Miss, because he is, but he may have been Georgia's No. 1 wide receiver at this time instead of three or four for the Rebels. He is surrounded by big-time wideouts in Oxford (Miss.) while Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs are still searching for that big-play wideout. Jefferson is smooth, he is making plays at Ole Miss, but if he would have stayed with Georgia, we could have seen him be that guy, be producing more and being the true No. 1 receiver.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): It's almost hard to remember which guys have de-committed and from where but I'll pick a guy who has yet to play a snap in college, Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith. He was an early commitment to Georgia and while he's going to have to wait for his chance to play at Alabama, I think he could make quite a paring with current Dawgs quarterback Jacob Eason.
2. What's been the most surprising decommitment so far among the 2018 prospects?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): James Cook, I guess. Just because of his early commitment to FSU, where his brother became a star. This wasn’t surprising in the way that it was sudden. It wasn’t at all. There was a slow build to his decision. The shock factor comes in because of his strong family tie to the school and his solid relationship with the FSU staff.
Mike Farrell (National): James Cook's decommitment has to be up there for surprises because of the family connection. On the one hand I can see why he wouldn't want to follow his brother Dalvin at FSU but on the other hand, a lot of us felt he would end up with the 'Noles regardless.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): Admittedly I'm not plugged into the recruitment of James Cook but I was shocked to find out that he had actually decommitted from Florida State. I had always heard him talk about other schools but never took those comments seriously because it seemed like a plot to build suspense. It never entered my mind that Cook wouldn't follow his brother Dalvin to Florida State and become a star.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): Absolutely, without a doubt, it's four-star quarterback Cameron Rising flipping from Oklahoma to Texas. Rising loved then-coach Bob Stoops, the offense the Sooners run and how he fit in Norman. There was always some talk that Oregon or another Pac-12 school could swoop in and steal him - that makes sense from a regional perspective - but going to the Longhorns was a shocker. Days before his visit there, Rising wasn't even sure he was going to make the trip (or he was being incredibly coy). But like many prospects in the new Tom Herman regime, Rising fell in love with the place and decided to flip his pledge to Oklahoma's Big 12 rival.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Two strong candidates would be Daniel Parker and Cameron Brown, but those were rectified recently when both re-committed to the teams they previously de-committed from. So, I am going with four-star tight end Luke Ford, who de-committed from Arkansas in June. His reasoning for doing so makes sense - he made only two campus visits to schools before committing - but talking with him in the weeks after he sounded extremely comfortable with the Razorbacks.
Nick Krueger (Texas): The most surprising decommitments this year still come from the Louisiana pair of Devonta Jason and Corione Harris, who both decommitted from LSU for greener pastures at Kansas. The widely expected outcome is that both still end up in Baton Rouge, but both have stuck it out with the Jayhawks so far, despite the decommitments of Ja’Marr Chase and Aaron Brule, who both initially committed with Jason and Harris earlier this spring. If Kansas can hold on to both, the Jayhawks would have two playmakers that could come in and impact the team immediately.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Adam Anderson committed to Georgia a couple of weeks before his junior season in August 2016. Then, on G-Day as Georgia calls it, the day of the spring game in April 2017, he backed off that pledge and committed with two of his Rome (Ga.) teammates to LSU. Since then, Anderson and Jemarcus Chatman have decommitted from LSU and Chatman has committed to Tennessee. Anderson is a big Georgia fan, those close to him like the in-state Bulldogs and his decommitment from Georgia came out of nowhere. Now that he has backed off his pledge to LSU, Georgia is again trending for the Rivals100 edge rusher.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I was actually very surprised when James Cook backed off his commitment from Florida State. I know the 'Noles are stacked at running back and he's interested in making a name for himself and maybe not following his his brother's footsteps at FSU, but it never seemed like he was serious about pursuing other options when we talked both on and off the record. He might indeed end up back with Florida State but it's clear we should expect the unexpected when it comes to Cook.
3. Who is one prospect in your region that you'd put atop a Decommitment Watch List?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): Everyone? South Florida is the broken commitment capital of the world. A commitment with more than a year left until signing day tells the world where a prospect isn’t going. Seriously, pick a name. Brieon Fuller has already (briefly) backed off his commitment to Miami once but is back in fold. Keontra Smith made an early out-of-state commitment to Kentucky, which history says may not end well for the Wildcats. Who knows?
Mike Farrell (National): I don't have a region but watch out for Arjei Henderson who has committed to Oklahoma and Oregon so far. He loves the Ducks but as a Texas prospect he will be hard to keep in the fold for Willie Taggart and company as a five-star with so many schools coming after him.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): This is a tough one because you don’t want to sound the alarm on a player that isn't actually looking around. Out of the players in my region that are already committed I'd say quarterback Brendon Clark (Wake Forest commit) or defensive end Hakeem Beamon (North Carolina commit) could be decommitment candidates. I only say that because I think they will get plenty more offers and that could convince them to look around.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): It might be a little early for this but I would watch the recruitment of four-star linebacker De'Gabriel Floyd this season. The USC commit still is very solid with the Trojans but UCLA is absolutely making a strong push for him and he has the talent to be a national recruit. Also, the Trojans are loading up at linebacker in this class with four commits already including five-star Palaie Gaoteote and some targets still on the board such as four-star Solomon Tuliaupupu so there might be a concerning logjam when 2019 linebackers look at the Trojans.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): This is difficult in the Midwest because only eight prospects have made commitments in the 2019 class and none have committed out of 2020 yet. Most of these early commitments are to in-state schools too, which are unlikely to be rescinded later in the process. If I have to pick one, Larry Tracy and Iowa may be the most tenuous just because his recruitment took off quickly and he committed soon after, but his cousin is committed to the Hawkeyes in the 2018 class and nothing right now appears worrisome for Iowa there.
Nick Krueger (Texas): Class of 2019 five-star wide receiver Arjei Henderson, who recently committed to Oregon this summer. He made the Ducks his pick after camping in Eugene at Oregon’s recent Saturday Night Live event. His commitment comes in similar circumstances to – and not too far removed from – his previous pledge to Oklahoma earlier this spring. Henderson repeatedly called Texas his ‘dream school’ in the weeks leading up to his most recent commitment, so his recruitment still likely has some life left in it.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Kenyon Jackson grew up a big fan of LSU and he called it his "dream" school. The Tigers offered him early in 2017 and he committed to LSU early in the summer. Jackson is being targeted by Florida State, where four of his teammates in the 2019 class are committed. He is a junior that should be on Decommit Watch in the coming months. The Seminoles may be trending the most right now despite him still being committed to LSU.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): One guy that I think belongs on this list is class of 2019 defensive end Nolan Smith. The Georgia commit seemed as if he was going to be the Pied Piper for the Dawgs in the class of 2019 but since transferring to IMG I think he's started to realize that he may have taken himself off the market a little too quickly. That doesn't mean he won't end up signing with Georgia eventually, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him open things up and take a look around.