IOWA CITY, Iowa — Peyton Mansell noticed the social media posts.
The ones asking if he would be the next Texas recruit to decommit. After seven weeks of it, he wanted to deal with something else.
So on Dec. 14, he started typing on his phone. Thirty-eight words, one hashtag and one emoji later, his manifesto was complete.
He tweeted out a reaffirmation of his commitment to Iowa.
“I just didn’t want anyone to think that just because my friends left, that I would be leaving too,” said Mansell, a quarterback from Belton (Texas) High School.
— Aquaman (@MansellPeyton) December 14, 2016
Some questioned the commitment of a prospect because four other Texas players walked away from the Hawkeyes. It’s an odd place to wind up, but this is the recruiting world we all live in now. It doesn’t always make sense — but it does to Mansell.
His recruiting process essentially ended in June, but he’s experienced and witnessed nearly everything a recruit may go through. He’s an unlikely prospect to end up in Iowa City, but because nothing with Iowa and Texas recruiting was easy the last several months, he understands recruiting in a way most recruits never will.
Take the fans wondering about his loyalty. He didn’t get upset. He applied perspective and realized where the Iowa fans were coming from. He sympathizes with them because he sees the logic they’re using.
“If I saw like five guys decommit from Iowa State or something and they were all from Minnesota and there was only one guy left, I’d think he would probably leave too if they were all buddies,” Mansell said.
Mansell is friends with Eno Benjamin, Chevin Calloway, Beau Corrales and Gavin Holmes. He’s especially close with Benjamin and Corrales. He embraces it, even if it might bother some Iowa fans. He still tweets with Corrales regularly.
— Aquaman (@MansellPeyton) December 20, 2016
He watched everything play out, how the no visitation policy was a central part in all four decommitments. He learned everyone does what’s best for them. For Mansell, that meant staying, even if everyone else left.
“Right now it’s a little hard in the land of Texas and Iowa recruiting,” Mansell said. “But when this 2017 class gets done, everyone will see it’s worth it.”
He found himself in a tough spot. He would love to throw the ball to Corrales. Handing the ball off to Benjamin would be a joy.
But each started questioning their situation with Iowa. What was he to do? Be a teammate first? Put that before their friendship? He couldn’t do it. He still recruits for Iowa, but not here. Mansell would listen and empathize. He would go along with whatever decision they made.
“I am not going to college to follow my friends,” Mansell said. “I am going to get a great education and play some top-level football, and you know Iowa is going to be the place to me.”
Mansell made the choice to remember it was their choice. He would be there in whatever fashion they needed. He would let them make a decision and stand next to them, even if it meant standing on the opposite sideline in the future.
“They were doing what they felt was best for their future and their football career and their education,” Mansell said. “What I think is best for me or for them might not actually be what’s best for them.”
Nothing ever changed with Mansell, yet everything did. He liked the Hawkeyes and stayed with them. That didn’t stop things around him from getting pretty crazy. It exposed him to a lot and it taught him a lesson.
Sometimes reaffirming a commitment is required.