Penn State five-star quarterback commit Justin Fields recently re-opened his recruitment. Why is that important to NC State? It’s the nature of college football recruiting, for one; for another, it’s the specific nature of recruiting quarterbacks.
As Bud Elliott outlines here, quarterback recruiting tends to have a significant domino effect, usually to the luxury of prestige programs and the detriment of the rest of us. When Fields decommitted from PSU, the Nittany Lions began looking elsewhere for a quality QB prospect, and their heavy attention has been drawn to Wolfpack commit Devin Leary, who has done nothing but distinguish himself since committing to NC State in the spring.
Leary is still an NC State commit, but is his recruitment back up in the air? Yeah, it is.
The recruiting culture in football is much different than it is in basketball, and it differs primarily here: when a football player commits somewhere, it doesn’t slow down the other schools that are pursuing him. There’s a reason why there are so many more flips by prospects from one school to another in football recruiting.
Since Leary’s verbal to the Pack, he has made a name for himself with an outstanding performance at the Elite 11 quarterback camp. And Leary is not an in-state prospect; he is from New Jersey, and as an out-of-region prospect it is doubly difficult for a school like NC State to hang onto him when bigger-name schools become involved.
I am not saying that Leary is going to flip to Penn State, just that these are the mechanics of football recruiting, and, well, there’s a lot that lives outside of a staff’s control in these cases. This is just the stuff that happens, man:
A wave of outreach [to Leary] has come from Penn State since Fields, a 5-star recruit, ended his six-month pledge. This includes staff members (Franklin, offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and offensive recruiting coordinator Josh Gattis) and future Nittany Lions (2017 signee and fellow New Jersey product Fred Hansard, along with 2018 pledges Pat Freiermuth and Jesse Luketa).
Momentum indicates an offer may arrive any moment, 11 months after Leary hoped to secure it on campus.
“That would be huge for me,” he said. “If Penn State extended an offer to me and finally sees my ability to play quarterback, that’s something I’d really respect and like a lot.”
I don’t think it’s particularly difficult to read between those lines. Penn State had the luxury to get in late on Leary, who is right in their back yard. That the Nittany Lions initially passed on him is immaterial as far as both parties are concerned.
(This happens at every tier within college football, by the way. Remember, Jakobi Meyers was committed to play QB at Kent State before flipping to NCSU.)
Getting the jump on a recruit doesn’t matter as much in football as it does in basketball, and it especially doesn’t matter as much when you’re talking about recruiting quarterbacks versus other positions. Just the way it goes. Signing day is eight months away.