Don’t bet the farm on verbal commitments

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 21, 2006

Is Bubba going to stick to his oral commitment and sign with thePodunk U. Revolutionaries? Is he going to listen to that recruitingpitch from Boondocks State, change his mind and plot his futurewith the Bullfrogs?

Who knows and who really cares?

There’s a war going on in Iraq. Military men and women arefighting for our freedom and safety in hostile surroundings,thousands of miles away from home. Sadly, many leave their blood inthe sand and never come home

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Millions of words are written in newspapers and web pages duringthe recruiting process. A young football star often makes an oralor verbal commitment during his junior year in high school.

The large truck from the closest television station parksoutside the field house for an in-person interview.

Bubba, the bashful star of the show, peers into the brightlights. “Uh, you know I always watched the Revs on TV. You know, mymother’s uncle went to Podunk. My cousin was a manager on thesoccer team.”

Before his senior season is complete, Bubba will be courted andwooed by several other institutions of higher learning. Campusvisits will be arranged for the gridiron hero and his parents. Theywill be treated like royalty each weekend they make a campusvisit.

Is Bubba wavering?

His cell phone will melt from an overload of incoming calls.

“Are you still with us?”

“You haven’t changed you mind, have you?”

“Why are you making all those campus visits when you said youwere coming to Podunk?”

For sure, Bubba enjoys the attention. Classmates and friendsgreet him every day in the school hallways. New friends also attachthemselves to the procession of followers.

Yes, it does become a headache. Bubba is anxious for theFebruary signing date to arrive.

Meanwhile, well-meaning alumni from Boondocks State aren’t’ready to give up on changing Bubba’s mind. They do nice things forthe family, real nice things which often lead to NCAAinvestigations.

There are job offers, along with discounts on clothing andautomobiles. A little short on cash? A high-roller from Boondocksoffers to loan some money, on a long-term payment plan.

“You can pay me back when you sign that NFL deal.”

And the beat goes on.

As the football season winds down, many honors are bestowed onthe best high school athletes, plus the most successful teams andcoaches. The Mississippi Association of Coaches released itsAll-State Football Teams last Sunday.

There were several players from this area who received specialrecognition.

We’ll start with Brookhaven High School, a Class 4A team whichfinished third in the Region 6 race. Panther place-kickerWill Thibodeaux made the First Team. So did tightend Simmie Yarborough.

On the 4A Second Team were quarterback Charles (Bobo)Rancifer, offensive lineman Darion Smithand free safety R.J. Jenkins on defense. Also in4A, tight end Jake Thames of Lawrence County washonored.

In Class 3A, state champion Franklin County landed severalpositions. Grady McCluskey was recognized as Coachof the Year and linebacker Gary Rogers was namedDefensive Player of the Year.

FC Bulldogs on the 3A First Team Offense are running backPreston Griffith, and offensive guardCable McMinn. On defense are tackle BoTillman, end Aljoshua Tillman and outsidelinebacker Brandon Collins. RepresentingHazlehurst are end Jazzmen Guy and free safetyDamien Anderson.

In Class 2A, Wesson’s Will Turbo made theSecond Team Offense at guard.

Moving to Class 1A, Bogue Chitto wide receiver MarioAddison made the First Team Offense. QuarterbackSeth Avants and linebacker ScottyBrown represent BC on the Second Team.

The Mississippi Private School Association also announced itsAll-State Football Team which included players from all threeclassifications. Class AA state champion Copiah Academy isrepresented by defensive end JakeGuess on the First Team and defensive linemanPreston Berry on the Second Team.

District 6-AA champion Brookhaven Academy is represented on theFirst Team by Price Sessums at running back.

PPK Update: Garrett Thornton and Laura BethWright represented Brookhaven and Mississippi in the Pepsi Punt,Pass & Kick Team Championship competition last Sunday at theSuperdome in New Orleans. The 13-year-old Thornton was runner-up inthe boys division while the 12-year-old Wright won her girlsdivision. Wright could qualify for NFL playoff competition inJanuary if her total score is among the top four from the 31 otherteam championships. Stay tuned.

Before taking a break for Christmas, this column wants to remindeveryone that Jesus Christ is the reason for theseason. Merry Christmas!

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or