What the dating world can teach us about Devyn Ford’s recruitment
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Scenario: A prospect has an unofficial visit, and then an official visit 3 weeks later. Aside from all expenses being paid, what would the prospect see on the OV that he hasn’t already seen on his UOV?
— Evin Moore (@EMoThaGr8) April 8, 2018
This question is a reference to North Stafford (Va.) running back Devyn Ford, a 4-star prospect ranked as the No. 73 prospect overall in 2019 and the No. 6 running back in the class, per the 247Sports composite rankings. Ford was on campus at Ohio State on Thursday and Friday, making his fourth unofficial visit of the recruiting process to Columbus to check out the program.
Ford has informed Land of 10 that he’ll return just three weeks later, making official visits to his final three of Virginia Tech (April 14), Penn State (April 21), and Ohio State (April 28) before announcing a May 18 decision. He’s been to each of these programs four times or more a piece, many of them recently, which begs an interesting question — why return so soon? Or return at all?
I’m sure on some level the answer is “because he can.” You’re only a recruit once and that process only involves five official visits. Ford isn’t being flippant and taking visits to programs he doesn’t care about; he’s only using these three official visit opportunities because they’re the only three programs that have a serious chance to land him. Still, it seems bad to let them go to waste entirely, no? Ford will get three weekends of high-level college football programs rolling out the red carpet for him, paying for his meals and flights, and doing their best to shower him with positive attention and impress him. That seems really fun to me.
I don’t know that he’ll see anything all that different than what he’s already seen. He’s met the players at these programs, watched practices and games and seen the dormitories, campuses, and academic lives of student-athletes. You know that old advertising hook “What do you get the man who has everything?” Ford is pretty much in that boat already, telling Land of 10 that he’s already “pretty much seen it all.”
Every school on Ford’s list has shown him the ability to put him on a path to play in the pros or to set him up academically and professionally for the future if the NFL isn’t in the cards. Each will do their best to showcase a path to the field or a chance for early playing time, flex with their fancy new facilities or dorms, or tell the kid how many titles they’ve won. That’s not really what Ford needs to know about any more though, he’s to the point where relationships seem to take over.
“Right now, it’s just building relationships with coaches, seeing what I can take from offensive schemes and seeing which one is going to benefit me more in the future. It’s kind of hard knowing what it will be like until you actually get there, so it’s kind of like a blind date,” Ford recently told Land of 10.
To that sense, each of these three official visits are the chance for Ford to spend more 1-on-1 time with college football coaches and players at Ohio State, Penn State, and Virginia Tech. In that sense, there won’t be any difference between the opportunities he has on this visit and previous ones, but much like the dating world, the bonds tend to grow closer between people the more time they spend together.
Ford is playing the field while he looks for the right fit, essentially. If previous unofficial visits were speed dates or a casual coffee, an official visit is like the first time you spend a weekend away out of town with your (potential?) significant other. It’s more time than you usually spend around one another in a confined area and sometimes you learn some things that you didn’t expect.
Finding out that your date is actually a huge jerk to waiters and waitresses (seriously, never, ever date a person who’s rude to the server) is kind of like a recruit spending a whole weekend on campus and learning that his future position coach is a task-master and nothing like how he acts in recruiting. Players who were cool to you when they saw you on the sidelines at a spring practice might ignore you for a whole night when you’re on campus for your official visit.
Familiarity can breed contempt, but it’s also the only way you can ever learn if you’re really compatible with a person or football program. Ford’s official visits are an attempt to take his recruitment from the “We met on Tinder and hang out once every couple weeks” stage to an actual “make it official on Facebook and change your Twitter avi” relationship.
I don’t know what kind of date Urban Meyer is, but I guess we’ll all find out when Ford announces his commitment on May 18.
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