Vontae Diggs thought he had it all figured out this summer.
Downers Grove North senior linebacker Vontae Diggs (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, thought he had found his future college of choice this past summer when he, along with teammate senior linebacker Richard Olekanma (6-foot-2, 215 pounds), both gave Toledo a verbal commitment. Both friends seemed all set to go into the 2013 season with the recruiting process in the rear-view mirror.
Yet like so many others these days, Diggs gave his early choice more and more thought and last week decided to back off of his verbal commitment to the Rockets, reopening his process. It wasn't an easy decision yet one that Diggs felt he needed to make.
"I told the Toledo coaches that I was going to look at other options," Diggs said. "I just want to look at all of my options. I felt that I rushed my decision, and I want to make sure I'm not shutting the door on other schools."
Telling the Toledo coaches about his decision was tough, yet telling one of your best friends that you need to back out of a dual verbal commitment was even harder.
"Telling Richard about my decision was also pretty hard to do," Diggs said. "Richard is like my brother, and he understands. I know Richard loves Toledo. I just told him what I've been telling everyone and that is I'm doing what I feel is best for myself. Richard is cool with it."
Don't look for Diggs to be the only verbally committed prospect to back off of an early decision. In fact, I'm expecting even more recruits to back out of early verbals now more than ever.
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So far, out of the EDGYTIM.com Kickoff Top 30 prospect rankings for the Class of 2014, eight of the Top 30 remain uncommitted. That's 73 percent of the Class of 2014 in Illinois already pledged to a school before the start of their senior seasons. It's also a trend that's increasing nation-wide.
According to the recently updated Rivals100 national top 100 recruit rankings for the Class of 2014, 65 percent of those recruits have made verbal commitments already.
Players are getting offered scholarships earlier and earlier. Recruits are also looking harder at schools sooner, and the process is just moving up at a sprinter's pace. Fans still mock college programs offering eighth-graders and players who've yet to see the varsity field, yet these days nothing surprises me anymore.
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With the early decisions come more questions and more doubts now more than ever. Even after making a verbal commitment, opposing schools won't stop recruiting a prospect. With the never-ending college coaching carousel and the earlier recruiting classes filling up, schools need to remain in touch and on top of recruits no matter whether the recruit is verbally committed or not. One coaching change changes the entire recruiting puzzle, and the verbally committed recruit in many cases needs to go back to square one.
So while everyone will rant and rave about this recruiting class or the impact of that recruit's verbal commitment, only one thing is certain anymore in recruiting.
It doesn't really matter until the first Wednesday in February, when the Class of 2014 can sign a binding letter of intent. Otherwise, until February, all bets are off.
"Edgy" Tim O'Halloran is a contributor to CSNChicago.com for IHSA football and recruiting information. Watch “Edgy” on HS Lites on Wednesdays (on-demand) and Fridays and Saturdays (TV; on-demand). Also, visit edgytim.com for in-depth prep football information and analysis.