ATHENS — The silent verbal commit, soft commit and hard commit have one thing in common: They ultimately mean nothing.
Jayden Maiava, we barely got to know ya.
Maiava, the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year at UNLV, committed to Georgia on Monday and flipped to USC on Tuesday.
It’s evidence of just how fickle the recruiting game has become amid these historically loose college football player acquisition times.
The “commitment” has always been part of the negotiation, though there was a time it seemed to mean more.
On some occasions at some places, players were paid— or their family/agent was paid — to make a public commitment.
Two of the primary reasons were to hold the player in place, and to generate recruiting momentum and attract others to the class.
Assistant coaches would leak commitment news to websites, who would then provide said team/player with a more favorable ranking or “bump.”
This is old news, but worth reviewing as such dealings remain self-serving, albeit, more complicated.
The “commitment” also set the bar for other schools recruiting that player to match or exceed the offer behind the scenes.
It’s almost (just like?) an underground version of unrestricted, uncapped free agency.
Other schools’ recruiters wouldn’t back off, so much as they would maintain private relations with the player/family in case something went sideways with the deal.
Nothing has changed there.
2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, for example, leveraged interest from Georgia following the 2021 season into more money to sign at USC, per sources.
Did the same happen with Maiava? Perhaps.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong or illegal with any of this.
It’s networking; building and maintaining relationships, and looking for mutually beneficial opportunities.
Georgia fans can be excused if they’re over the whole QB recruiting drama.
Former UGA commit and current Nebraska Cornhusker Dylan Raiola moved to the state of Georgia for his final season of high school football and had the program’s followers watching intently.
But then Raiola, a recruiting star who shot through four high schools, continued his nomadic trend by flipping to Nebraska the week of early signing day.
The only consolation for the UGA followers who took in all those hours of watching boring high school offense was that Buford standout KJ Bolden flipped to Georgia.
Bolden was and is the electrifying talent who truly jumped off the film, and he elected to opt out of his Florida State commitment and opt in to Georgia.
Bolden’s family shared that he did it for less money than he was offered elsewhere because of the value Georgia holds in developing talent.
That transparency was more refreshing than revealing.
As former Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said on the SEC Network in 2021 at the onset of NIL and transfer rules changes:
“There were a lot of NIL deals going on before all this was going on, they just weren’t legal. Nobody told nobody.”
But now the players are talking amongst themselves, finding out what others are making, and it’s threatening the chemistry and harmony in the locker rooms.
Some programs deal with it better than others, but all of the players understand they are operating as part of a big business.
Kirby Smart is the king of roster management because of his vast experience working with elite talent at Georgia and Alabama and the straight-forward nature he comes by naturally.
People in the media know: Don’t reach between the bars and ask Kirby a question unless you are prepared for his answer.
That sort of blunt honesty is the only way to maintain harmony among these chaotic times.
Smart doesn’t have time or make time for games outside or inside of his program.
Sometimes player talks at Georgia lead backups to transfer elsewhere.
Other times — like with Quay Walker and Amarius Mims — it leads players to understand there’s first-round value ahead if they stick it out.
Quarterbacks are different. There can only be one on the field at a time.
But Smart seems to manage them with the same transparency, openly announcing during bowl prep that Georgia would try to add a fourth QB to its roster.
Maiava was not being brought in to be a career backup.
Fan-favorite Gunner Stockton’s role as the No 2 was immediately in jeopardy.
Now that Maiava has moved on, Stockton’s role as the No. 2 quarterback in 2024 seems safe.
Barring a last-minute shift, any incoming competition will come after spring drills, leaving precious little time for any newcomer to learn UGA’s complex offense.
The Georgia roster appears just about set for spring drills, early enrollees moved in, the transfer window closed and players declared for the NFL.
But recruiting never stops, and the next “commitment” — and all that comes with it — is just around the corner.