Having shaken the system, Roquan Smith commits to UGA

Roquan Smith: Will he be a trailblazer? (Michael Carvell/AJC photo)

Roquan Smith: Will he be a trailblazer? (Michael Carvell/AJC photo)

Roquan Smith: Will he be a trailblazer? (Michael Carvell/AJC photo)

Roquan Smith: Will he be a trailblazer? (Michael Carvell/AJC photo)

Even if you’ve wearied of the overcooked Signing Day “ceremonies” that many big-name recruits seem to feel are both their due and duty, you have to admire what Roquan Smith has done. After going live on ESPN — hey, doesn’t everyone? — to announce that he would attend UCLA, he has chosen to attend Georgia not because he’s a flighty teenager but because he’s a teenager who was, he has claimed, misled by adults.

The Bruins’ chief recruiter on Smith was defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. Rumors were circulating before Signing Day that Ulbrich was bound for the Atlanta Falcons. Jake Reuse of the Rivals site UGAsports.com quoted Smith as saying that Ulbrich told him he’d declined the Falcons’ offer.

Update: Ulbrich is today a Falcons assistant coach.

As the world now knows, Smith signed a national letter of intent with UCLA on Feb. 4 but didn’t fax it to Westwood. (Credit Georgia’s coaches for inundating Smith with messages suggesting that Ulrich might still be outbound for the A-T-L.) This led Smith to recant his pledge to the Bruins and reopen his recruiting, with a notable twist: He said he wouldn’t sign — and fax — a letter of intent with any school.

As Macon County coach Larry Harold told esteemed colleague Michael Carvell: “The reason why is because what he went through last week. This just gives us flexibility in case something else unexpectedly happens again.”

This led to some writers suggesting that Smith could become a trailblazer. Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com suggested Smith might be “the Rosa Parks of college football recruits.” And Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote:

Smith’s decision, almost certainly, will change how top recruits handle the process. No coach would turn away one of the best players in the country, even on the player’s terms. Lesser players may face pressure from coaches who tell them to sign an NLI or risk losing their scholarship offer to a player who will. So it may affect only the top tier of high school players.

For all the fervor with which it’s followed, recruiting remains a seamy business. Coaches press recruits to “commit,” and rival coaches press them to “de-commit.” A teenager builds a relationship with a coach and/or coaches who might not be in place for the entirety of his collegiate career. Coaches are free to jump between jobs even if they’ve signed long-term deals — it’s amazing how such contracts are ritually ignored — but a recruit who signs (and faxes) a letter of intent and changes his mind risks having to sit out a season.

Today Roquan Smith of Montezuma, Ga., announced via Instagram — hey, doesn’t everyone? — that he would be attending Georgia. Soon came an email from the Bulldogs’ athletic department stating: “This will confirm that we have received the signed SEC and UGAAA Financial Aid agreements for Roquan Smith. And they have been certified.”

But no national letter of intent was involved, and it makes it wonder if any such letters need to be. Would signing a simple scholarship agreement, as Smith just did with Georgia, suffice? Then again, a recruit could sign scholarship agreements with a dozen schools and leave everyone not knowing where he was bound until he actually enrolled, which would mean recruiting could continue into August, and who wants that?

If nothing else, Roquan Smith has started a conversation nobody figured we’d be having. Like the BCS, the letter of intent could well have outlived its usefulness. If not quite Rosa Parks, Smith might one day be remembered as the collegiate equivalent of Curt Flood, who challenged baseball’s archaic reserve clause and loosed free agency on the Grand Old Game, which hasn’t been the same since.

Update: On cue, the administrator of letters of intent for the NCAA has told Michael Carvell that the absence of such letters would put schools “in a bad position.”

Reader Comments 1

83 comments
DawgByte
DawgByte

Two things struck me about this Mark Bradley article and they are as follows:


1. As Macon County coach Larry Harold told esteemed colleague Michael Carvell: “The reason why is because what he went through last week.

LMAO... "esteemed colleague" and Michael Carvell in the same sentence is an oxymoron.

2. Mr. Scarbinsky of AL.com is a complete moron. "Roquan Smith could be the Rosa Parks of college recruiting." 

The stupidity of today's modern journalists knows no bounds.

birdrow
birdrow

BTW, my prediction is that this young man is out at UGA before his third year, with little, to no impact on the program.  Hope I'm wrong, but I'm not.

GTBob
GTBob

@birdrow That was basically my prediction as well. The kid is really indecisive, didn't pick UGA initially, and won't sign a LOI with them now. Any trouble or struggles at all and he is probably gone.

The_Real_KJ
The_Real_KJ

Worst news of the day:  TOJacket is apparently breeding.  Oh well, I guess the world is gonna need strippers too.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@The_Real_KJ That's not nearly as depressing as another UGA "Housing" graduate?................lol.

birdrow
birdrow

@TOJacket @The_Real_KJ  Or another insect lover coming on a UGA topic blog to brag about their 3rd win in the 21'st Century with comments like "We rule this state".  Really?  THIRD WIN SINCE Y2K!  That say's it all.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@birdrow @TOJacket @The_Real_KJ Never said "We rule this State".........sounds like something you humps would say................I said "We own this State"...........we do Sally?.....try to remember that...............32 first downs and 463 total yards........thank god y'all got CJP to shore up that defense!.................LOL

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

Good for him, holding off on signing anything binding until he actually enrolls in school.

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

Remember the Andre Hastings recruiting battle.  It turned on which school would let him have a private bathroom.  Or something like that.  

Camo_Dawg
Camo_Dawg

until he signs the LOI, this is just more speculation

RangeRover
RangeRover

And the lack of complete commitment works both ways, young man!

What happens if you were at an Alabama, Auburn or Tennessee and blew out a knee in a pick-up basketball game between now and this summer...they'd yank that offer in a heartbeat, that's what?  

We'll, to your credit, a guy like Mark Richt would probably still honor your offer but he wouldn't be bound to it!

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

@RangeRover You're right about Richt honoring the offer. He always has scholarships to give since he virtually never plays a season with a full allotment of scholarship players. NUTS!

RangeRover
RangeRover

Like Carvell (who is far from "distinguished), Bradley fails in the fair, balanced, unbiased reporting department.

Where's the quote from  Jeff Ulbrich, Marky Mark?

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Yeah, another dawg that doesn't like to follow the rules.  He's gonna be a prima donna, folks, one of those narcissistic dudes who's thinks he's the greatest.  He will test whoever the head coach is after what's his name leaves.

FridayNightLights
FridayNightLights

@An American Patriot What rules did he not follow? No one says you have to sign on "National Signing Day". That is simply the first day to sign. None of these kids owe you (us) anything. Get the chip off of your shoulder. While it is yet to be seen, it seems like the kid has his head on straight. Only time will tell. 

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

@An American Patriot To true American Patriots, it's all about not following the rules. Otherwise, we'd be the 50 English colonies rather than the United States of by God America. An American Lemming may be more appropriate!

JAS0N
JAS0N

"Having shaken the system, Roquan Smith commits to UGA"


Headline should read "UCLA recruiting lies, loses recruit because of it."

forexbomb
forexbomb

UGA"s coaches are CHUMPS to allow this... But hey, Mark Richt  has never had much of a back bone..  Good luck with this guy..  

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

@forexbomb  The kid was lied to by an ADULT. He has done nothing wrong. Breathe Dwaggies....he'll show for class. Don't take it so personally. Go Jackets!

Hunk
Hunk

Remember the days when a kid signed because he always wanted to attend the school and not because of a coach or a conference?  That's all this is ....lost priorities. He should have always wanted to come to UGA because it's a school in his home state where he will present his skills on the field in front of the people who have paid for his education in developing them.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Hunk Not all little children dream every night of playing in the Belk Bowl with CMR?

FridayNightLights
FridayNightLights

@Hunk (and others blasting the kid) Remember the days when.....yes, when college athletics wasn't so much about $$$. When you could make a comparable wage to a professional athlete after school working by working in a white collar profession. I personally can't blame the kid for looking out for himself. As the article points out, coaches are not held to their contracts. And as SI points out, the LOI is the worst contract in America. The NCAA and its member Universities have brought such actions upon themselves. Recruiting IS about establishing relationships and selling your athletic program. If it were about the school or the academics as some want to blindly suggest, they would be sending the University/School President or the School's Dean to do the recruiting. So the kid "one-upped" the system because he nearly got burned. Is that all bad? If it were you or your child, I am sure you would have a different opinion. Good luck to this kid and all the kids who signed an LOI and/or scholarship papers. You have been blessed and worked hard all these years to achieve at a very high level on the playing field. Now reap the benefits. Go Dawgs!

TOJacket
TOJacket

But he is not really a dawg until he starts classes?

partlycloudy
partlycloudy

He's ours!  Now to follow the rules and win games and get a get record at UGA.  Then he can make a fortune in the pros.  Don't be too impatient like Todd Gurley was.  Win now and later rake in the cash.  Would be nice to get a Heisman too.  or Three, LOL.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

@partlycloudy Yeah.........................................................sorry for the pause; I was laughing about that heisman thing and it reminded me of that elusive national championship that the dawgs are gonna win each and every year.  Y'all are funny.

atlfanman
atlfanman

Looking to see more kids follow Smith's lead in regards to signing the letter of intent when it is in their best interest.

CaliDawg
CaliDawg

Gotta love the trolls! When they don't exist, it's then I'll be worried about my Dawgs. "Fans don't boo nobodies" - Reggie Jackson

everydayjoe
everydayjoe

I'd LOVE TO HAVE THE SCHOOLS SHOW SOME BACKBONE AND LEAVE THIS GUY TO GET A JOB SELLING INSURANCE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.  BUT, I REMEMBER, THAT IT IS THE SCHOOLS, WITH THEIR MILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENTS AND THEIR QUARTER-MILLION DOLLAR SCHOLARSHIPS WHICH ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THESE POOR CHILDREN.....  OH, THE HUMANITY...

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

Roquan is the missing link that will put the Puppy Doggies over the edge and now they can actually beat Tech.


Well, maybe not.  


UGA always talks National Championship in February.  If recruiting got you a National Championship, Richt would have won 3 or 4 by now. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

I remember Roquan now............................................he is the guy who had the worst portrait............just saying

HotDawg
HotDawg

@TOJacket

I remember when you used to be funny. 

Step up your game....just saying.


TOJacket
TOJacket

@HotDawg No...........y'all owe him a new portrait, and I owe the artist an apology?

TampGator1
TampGator1

Alterations need to be made to the LOI system, no doubt, but I for one have no interest in changing amateur athletics and especially NCAA football other than that and players receiving a small amount of money each month for going to a movie and putting some gas in a car to do so.  I do not want college football to become like professional football.  I stop loving the game when that happens.  And when it does become professional, the recruits should pay for their own education at the school they select.   

GMAB
GMAB

Smith didn't shake up the system, a dishonest coach did.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Good for Roquan. It all worked out in the end. 

Now finish high school and get ready to put some pounds on that frame. Need you SEC ready.

My first guess is he will be redshirted. 205 lb inside linebacker is not very imposing. Obviously he has the talent and skills of an elite player. But even elite players need for their bodies to mature.

Go Dawgs!!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Maybe he can workout with Hocke on weekends till he gets on campus full time.

Browndawg
Browndawg

Have to side with the kids on this issue. If the school and the coaches know their will be changes immediately after signing then that is very disingenuous.

Gov-waste
Gov-waste

Great commitment for UGA. Just remember how many championships CMR has won with all these great recruits!. They coach just can't develop talent to win the big ones. The UGA way

anotherdawg
anotherdawg

If the financial aid binds the school to the recruit, and the LOI binds the recruit to the school, then that seems to me to be a two way commitment. The thing is, if there is no LOI, then the school has no guarantee that the student won't change his mind.  That may not seem like a big deal, but imagine out of 30 players at every school, that you have a handful deciding at the last minute to go somewhere else. Imagine a coach getting a chance at a player that is a upgrade over another.  There are coaches out there that would not have a problem with pulling a players scholly if they think they are getting an upgrade. And what about a 3 star guy that thinks he has a spot, only to find out at the last minute he has to grayshirt. That already happens, so it has the potential to be much worse. As a coach, this would be a nightmare. Do you take a chance on missing out on a blue chip, or do you assure yourself with a less talented one. Now, I certainly agree that coaches should not be deceiving recruits into thinking that they will be there when they know they won't. Perhaps, a early signing period for the players who know for sure where they want to go, and a later signing period for the others after the coaching changes have taken place.  There is a lot of ramifications to whatever future way this thing goes.

Wilbo
Wilbo

I'm sorry, but I'm on the side of the schools in all these disputes.


The schools have spent jillions building fields, practice facilities, dormitories. Housing feeding clothing the little children athletes who think they are already adults.


Educating them to whatever degree that is possible. If the athletes are so groovy and powerful, let them organize their own pick-up games and invite the NFL, NBA, MLB to come watch and draft from there.


Maybe they could write their draft choices on paper towels or napkins!


GTBob
GTBob

Ive mentioned this on the recruiting blogs but no one seems to have an answer. If the NLI program is such a poor deal for recruits then why doesn't UGA completely stop offering them to recruits? They could bring every recruit in with simple financial aid agreements and give them the freedom to pursue whatever they want. One of UGA's coaches apparently said that he wouldn't have his own son sign a LOI but he will ask other men's sons to do so? That is a bit hypocritical. UGA has the opportunity to do whats right for the kids here and Richt is always the leader in moral decisions so this seems like a no brainer.

HotDawg
HotDawg

@GTBob

Why single out UGA? You're argument started out about NLI's. 

This is a dilemna for every school. But i understand. Your purpose is to make troll comments toward UGA.

Jealous obsession will eat you up inside. 

Don't worry your little brain about UGA. They will handle their own business. Now go mind your own.

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