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Explaining message board recruiting talk

There are a lot of phrases, rumors, and "sources" this time of year on message boards. Let me help you understand what certain posts about recruiting mean.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY
"If what I'm hearing/my sources"

One of the first things that you'll learn reading message boards this time of year is that over 50% of members on those boards posting actively have "sources".  The issue with sources is that it covers a Grand Canyon's worth of people from Adam Schefter talking with staff on an NFL team to some guy in Clarksdale whose second cousin's ex wife's first kid was a referee for a prized recruit's team last season.

Let me make it simple for you so you don't have to guess: about 95% of the time, "sources" on a message board means that person read that information on another board or even that same board just several days or weeks earlier. Or in some cases, they're simply just making info up to seem "in the know" to you.  I know; it's quite shocking.  Very few times does that information legitimately come from someone close to a prospect or with any information.  You almost feel bad for the people on boards who DO have information, because they're drowned out by the sourceless masses who race to post some ridiculous nugget that they can refute they ever posted at all later when it's proven untrue.

"Look for a big announcement soon", with 1,000 even more ambiguous variations

You may also see this phenomena played out in an even more ridiculous fashion where the poster in question reports THE MOST AMBIGUOUS tease about a recruit ever.  They won't name a name; they won't tell you when this big event is supposed to happen.  Most of the time what you get is "big name coming in the boat this week".  Notice in that example that the poster: 1) doesn't give you a specific name; 2) doesn't give a specific date; 3) uses very vague wording to describe the action he's promising.  All of these are done intentionally, that way he (or she, but probably he) can easily wiggle out of this bold statement later when it doesn't (surprise!) come to fruition.  Reading message boards, you will see this a ton, so just ignore it.

"[recruit's name] will be a [school's mascot]"

To the uninitiated, this may seem like a person promising that a recruit is all but certain to commit to their school of choice.  And sometimes you may instead see this in its inverse form: " [recruit] will NEVER be a [school's mascot]."  And sometimes things do work out the way the poster describes.  But often times, the message board Miss Cleo's couldn't be further from being correct.  Let's take a recent example of how much stock you should put into guarantees on a message board:

recruiting message board promise

This was literally hours before the recruit in question committed to that exact school.  While his commitment was a shock to quite a few people, this is a prime example of why you run far away from anyone who will make a guarantee on the internet about what a 17-year old will or won't do.  Even the professionals in this business shy away from predicting absolutely what a high school kid will do, so certainly some random dude saying "THIS WILL HAPPEN" should be a red flag.

He's a grade risk

This is a phrase that can be translated most of the time to "we missed on this guy so I'm pretty openly hoping that he doesn't make his grades and has to go to JUCO."  The thing about this one is the guy can be a National Merit Semifinalist; it doesn't matter.  When a prospect spurns a school, fans of that school all of a sudden turn into his principal with unfettered access to his grades since he was in Kindergarten.  And magically, he's usually "a grade risk".

Non-committable offer

This is another euphemism for "we missed on this guy".  I won't name names, but this is a classic phrase thrown out rather haphazardly by a certain recruiting writer who loves to use this phrase after a player commits elsewhere.  "He never had a committable offer anyways" is what we usually hear.  And most of the time, it's butt-hurt bologna.  This, like grade speculation, is an ambiguous way of trying to make it look like your school of choice never had interest in the prospect in the first place.  And I could go on and on with these types of after-the-fact statements.  He's a bust.  Lots of red flags.  And the previously mentioned ones.  These phrases magically never show up until AFTER the recruit in question commits or signs elsewhere.  Surprisingly, before his decision to go to another school, that same young man never missed a day of church, studied film constantly, was underrated by at least two stars, had a 5.0 GPA, and saved two kittens from a tree a week before.

If you don't take away anything specific today from my half-satirical, half-truth filled post, try to remember to take everything you read on a message board RE: recruiting this time of year with a grain of salt.  That doesn't mean there aren't good posts out there from knowledgeable people on certain situations and recruits.  There are people on message boards who do watch film and can tell you about a recruit's situation with factual knowledge of the situation.  But for the most part, yes, that guy who claims to have inside knowledge is full of you know what.  It doesn't matter what team, conference, or sport you are discussing: these posters are everywhere.  And they really show up to play ball this time of year when lots of important signatures are on the line.

I'm not saying don't read message boards period, just keep your guard up.  Do like I do: read them for entertainment value.  But don't read them with the intent to take everything written there as complete truth.  You wouldn't take stock predictions from some random guy on a message board, so why trust that DarkLordSaban541 on your favorite message board can accurately predict the actions of an unpredictable species -- teenage boys?