CLEMSON, SC -- Even for recruiting, it was bizarre.
On Sunday afternoon, the most coveted defensive back in the Southeast answered the phone and, according to those making the calls to Ahmad "Batman" Carroll of Atlanta's Douglass High School, he said something different each time he picked up the phone.
According to recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg, who runs Borderwars.com, Carroll was down to Georgia and Arkansas. "I will sign with one of them," he told Newberg. "I have not decided which one yet."
Next, the phone rang and it was Phil Kornblut, who runs Palmettorecruiting.com. To Kornblut he said that he had eliminated Florida State from his list of schools and was favoring Clemson over Georgia and Arkansas. Carroll, according to Kornblut, said that his mother favored Clemson and his father liked Georgia.
It wasn't a matter of Newberg or Kornblut interpreting an inflection in Carroll's voice to determine where he's leaning. It wasn't Carroll changing his mind over the course of a day, which isn't surprising for a recruit. Carroll reportedly said different things in the span of a couple of hours.
In this day of non-stop recruiting coverage on the internet and on the radio, recruits are not naïve. Kornblut called Carroll's revelation to him "a surprising turn of events." Then again, one visit to the internet would tell Carroll that there are thousands of people hanging on his every word.
Carroll knows that the attention will end soon - likely on Wednesday when he signs a national letter of intent. Most recruits realize that this might be the most attention they ever get. Some of the prospects will not qualify to attend school, some will never get off the practice squad and some will be reserves. A small percentage will again one day see they kind of attention they're getting now. And some take advantage of it.
"I'm ready to get it over with," said Clemson commitment running back Tye Hill of Woodland High School. "Then again it's exciting. It was good while it lasted."
Hill is one of approximately 30 high school football players expected to sign with Clemson. The Tigers have commitments from 26 players and are on the list of several players that will announce a choice on signing day, including Carroll.
Clemson has had its share of disappointments this recruiting season. The Tigers lost out on running back Derrick Tinsley of Marietta, Ga, and defensive end George Gause of Conway. Tinsley committed to Tennessee and Gause committed to South Carolina. And there are several of the top players from the South Carolina that will announce a decision on Wednesday.
Signing day will likely determine whether Clemson has stemmed the tide of players leaving the state.
Clemson has commitments from wide receiver Tymere Zimmerman of Bennettsville, defensive back Travis Pugh from Manning, linebacker Roosevelt Nelson of Crestwood High School in Sumter and wide receiver Derrick Higgins from Lamar. Defensive linemen Charles Bennett and Mo Fountain from Camden and Trey Tate from Gaffney all received attention outside the state but committed to Clemson.
However, it's not clear whether linebacker Roger McIntosh from Gaffney, who at one time committed to Clemson, will actually sign with the Tigers. He told recruiting analyst Mickey Plyler that he would decide Wednesday between Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Miami, FSU and Clemson. Also the state's top recruit Roscoe Crosby will make his decision on Wednesday between five teams, two of which are Clemson and South Carolina. Defensive lineman Robert Geathers from Carner's Bay and Byrnes High School tight end Ben Hall will both announce on Wednesday as well.
All four could end up going out of state along with Gaffney defensive lineman Jeff Littlejohn, who will likely sign with Michigan State.
Until Wednesday, though, it’s a case of don’t call me, I’ll call you.
1. WR Tymere Zimmerman (6-3, 190) from Bennettsville, SC
2. LB Eric Sampson (6-3, 195) from Jacksonville, FL
3. OL Grant Oliver (6-5, 280) from Lexington, SC
4. DL Wendell Singletary (6-7, 255) from Whiteville, NC
5. DL Trey Tate (6-5, 240) from Gaffney, SC
6. DL Leo Reed (6-4, 270) from Georgetown, SC
7. DB Travis Pugh (6-1, 180) from Manning, SC
8. RB Tye Hill (5-10, 175) from St. George, SC
9. DL Charles Bennett (6-4, 215) from Camden, SC
10. LB David Dunham (6-2, 205) from Lake City, FL
11. DL Rod Whipple (6-5, 200) from Toomsboro, GA
12. DL Eric Coleman (6'6, 277) from Charlottesville, VA
13. OL Bobby Williamson (6-4, 240) from Tarpon Springs, FL
14. DL Mark Jetton (6-4, 225) from Charlotte, NC
15. OL Chip Myrick (6-5, 245) from Atlanta, GA
16. QB Charlie Whitehurst (6-4, 200) from Alpharetta, GA
17. DB Jamaal Fudge (5-10, 180) from Jacksonville, FL
18. DB Tavaghn Monts (6-3, 185) from Jacksonville, FL
19. RB Clifford Harrell (6-1, 235) from Tallahassee, FL
20. LB Leroy Hill (6-1, 208) from Haddock, GA
21. RB Kyle Browning (5-8, 165) from Union, SC
22. DB Curtis Baham (6-1, 180) from New Orleans, LA
23. LB Roosevelt Nelson (6-2, 205) from Rembert, SC
24. DL Mo Fountain (6-3, 265) from Camden, SC
25. RB Michaux Hollingsworth (6-0, 185) from Shannon, NC
26. WR Derrick Higgins (6-2, 185) from Lamar, SC