The regular season is winding down, but the recruiting games are heating up.
The national signing day for football is just under four months away when high school-aged kids officially declare where they expect to spend the next four or five years.
Some athletes make a decision early, stick to it and on that official February day hold up that schools hat or wear a T-shirt with the name of their chosen school across their chest.
Most recruiting scenarios do not go as smoothly.
There are second thoughts, waiting on that No. 1 school to officially offer, and outside influences pushing the recruit in several different directions.
“It was such a relief to get it done and all of the pressure went away,” Mountain Pointe senior offensive linemen Kenny Lacy said. “I fell in love with UCLA and gave them my commitment.”
Lacy left his official visit at UCLA as a Bruin with a caveat.
He told the coaches he still wanted to take the rest of his official visits (five total) to other programs. It changed Lacy’s commitment to a soft verbal instead of a full blown commitment.
“They were cool about it,” said Lacy, who had offers from nearly all top programs on this side of the country. “Most schools don’t want you to do that, but I don’t want to have to second guess anything. It was my first visit and it felt right, but I wanted to see what other schools had to offer, too.”
Lacy, who essentially took part in a UCLA gameday without suiting up, ate breakfast and rode with the team bus to the game, has since gone on a visit to Nebraska and has scheduled a trip to Vanderbilt. Also on the table are Oklahoma and Cal as other possibilities.
Others would love to have similar options and they have to weigh their current ones with possibility getting a late offer from bigger schools.
Desert Vista defensive end Lorenzo Melvin, defensive tackle Dylan Fischer, and running back Jarek Hilgers fall in this category.
Hilgers has offers from Air Force, New Mexico State and San Diego State, Fischer has one offer from Navy, while Melvin has North Dakota, Northern Arizona, South Dakota State and Western Illinois.
All are great opportunities in their own right, but none of them come from the big conferences and are not on television every week.
So do they hold out hope for interest from a school more nationally known that might not ever come or do they grab one of the initial offers early in the process to have a destination in hand.
“It is tough because you don’t know who might offer down the line,” Hilgers said. “I am honored by those schools that have already contacted me.”
At the same time Hilgers sent out a mid-season DVD to potential suitors the week after he nearly eclipsed the school record for yards rushing in a game with 269 yards on Sept. 28.
“It’s a good time to get their attention,” he said.
Mountain Pointe junior offensive linemen Natrell Curtis, who has 11 offers mostly from big conference schools, said skills players have an advantage when it comes to getting their name out there.
“All they have to do is keep scoring touchdowns and everyone thinks they are still doing good,” said Curtis, referring to teammate Jalen Brown’s record-breaking 251-yard, four-touchdown night for a wide receiver. “It’s harder for linemen, but the coaches know because they watch the tape.”
Pride senior defensive back Travonn White benefitted from an eye-popping effort suddenly putting him in the recruiting whirlwind.
When he broke 24 feet in the long jump in track, coaches from across the nation took notice and he quickly heard from top programs like Arkansas, Clemson, Florida and LSU, where he is taking an official visit this weekend.
“I heard from everyone right after that,” White said. “I can’t wait to go on the trips and see what the atmosphere is like. It should be cool. I want to find the right place with the right coaches. I want to do both (football and track), but we will see how it plays out.”
Let the (recruiting) games begin.
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