As a general rule I don't let myself get too fired up about commitments.
After watching several big name recruits defect at the 11th hour over the years I just don't get excited until they actually sign their LOI. For some reason Plant City Florida offensive tackle prospect Jordan Prestwood's commitment to Notre Dame yesterday feels different.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that his pledge came less than 72 hours after the Matt James tragedy. While that might have something to do with it I really found myself strangely captivated by a few things that he said at his presser.
For starters this wasn't one of those hat dance productions. I always appreciate a kid just getting up there and saying where he is going minus the theatrics. After starting off by thanking his high school coach, administrators and teammates Prestwood went on to thank a few of the schools that recruited him by name. I thought that was a classy gesture.
All of the usual suspects were in that procession to include Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Auburn, South Carolina and USC. Then Prestwood acknowledged a couple of others that surprised me a little bit. He gave a nod to UCF that I immediately discounted as local PR. Right thing to do sure. Anything really there? Not likely. But the next one was surprising.
"Lastly, I would like to thank Shawn Clark at Purdue. I was seriously considering Purdue because of the relationship I built with coach Clark. He did a terrific job recruiting me. Purdue is an outstanding academic institution. I thank Coach Clark for allowing me the opportunity to have Purdue as one of my choices."
Here is why that really caught my attention. When Danny Hope showed up the Boilers went on a full blown raid down to the state of Florida. I didn't think much of it at the time because despite the fact that 14 of the 20 kids they signed in February of 2009 were from Florida they were mainly of the 2-3 star variety. This last recruiting cycle was more of the same with 7 of 24 coming out of Florida. Could the Boilers being in the mix for a high end player like Prestwood be an indicator that the Boilers might be poised to kick this Florida raid up to the next level? It is hard to say but the overall strategy is highly interesting and worth keeping an eye on.
After throwing me for a loop with the Purdue bit Prestwood finished up with a solid endorsement for Notre Dame.
"The recruiting process is over for me. This is more than a verbal commitment. My decision is final. I will not be recruited anymore."
"I am very happy to announce, along with my mom and dad, that I have decided to play OFFENSIVE TACKLE at the UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME."
"Coach Kelly is outstanding. Coach Alford did a great job recruiting me. Dave Peloquin gave me an unbelievable tour of Notre Dame. The entire staff is top notch and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick is incredible. Notre Dame is the whole package."
Prestwood finished his prepared remarks with a nice gesture to the family of Matt James.
So why does this one feel different? It might be the coincidence of the timing. It might be the fact that I thought Prestwood came off as being exceptionally mature with his remarks. Or maybe it is the realization that Purdue might be executing a full scale raid into the Florida talent pool. At the end of the day I'm not 100% sure why it just felt different this time. As opposed to my usual cynicism I fully expect to see this kid in a Notre Dame uniform come 2011.