During its coverage of national signing day Wednesday, ESPN aired live the college commitment decision of highly recruited wide receiver prospect Jacob Copeland out of Escambia High School in Pensacola, Fla.
With his choices narrowed down to Florida, Alabama and Tennessee and hats from each of those schools lying on the table where he sat, Copeland reached for the Florida cap as he announced his decision to choose the Gators program.
Copeland’s mother, sitting to his right clad in an Alabama hooded sweatshirt and Tennessee beanie, just got up and left — on live TV — and created an uncomfortable moment that nearly instantly went viral.
Anyone watching had to feel bad for the kid, but the conviction in his response was reassuring.
“I can’t go with my mom,” Copeland said. “I gotta go with my heart.”
That’s the sound of a young man who knows he has found the right school despite immense pressure to go elsewhere.
A parent’s influence is just one form of the pressure placed on these young athletes during the recruitment process. Relationships with coaches, and now the new early signing day are examples of others.
Locally, Friendswood’s signing day provided examples of football players who wisely shook off the pressure of committing on the early day.
For linebacker Jake Yurachek, his future was still up in the air until Saturday when he visited the University of Colorado and immediately accepted a preferred walk-on offer. He had other offers, but none felt right for him, he said.
“I thought that after early signing day, some of the schools that didn’t get the players that they wanted would come down to me,” Yurachek said. “I thought it would pick up in my recruiting and I would get some more offers after that. I wasn’t worried at that moment, but as it got closer to this signing day, that’s when I was getting a little worried. Then, I went to Colorado and ultimately found the perfect fit for me.”
Offensive lineman Max Yarbrough’s de-commitment from SMU after a coaching change there made not signing early an easy choice, but he said it may have been a different story had no coaching change occurred.
“You can’t really sign with someone you haven’t met yet,” Yarbrough said. “Had coach (Chad) Morris stayed, though, I think I would have definitely felt the pressure to sign.”
Now, Yarbrough finds himself at a school with a coaching situation he feels more comfortable with at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Future recruits, your college commitment is your choice — and yours alone. Don’t choose a school that doesn’t feel right for you, and don’t let pressure, from any source, force the wrong decision.