Generally the fervor surrounding recruits subsides after ink hits paper on National Signing Day. But that doesn't always mean that the recruits themselves are done. Witness the unusual story of south Florida linebacker Matthew Thomas, ranked by some outlets as the top overall linebacker in the class of 2013, who signed with Florida State backin February.
Now he claims that he was "under duress" when he signed with the Seminoles and wants to be released from his letter of intent to sign with either Georgia or Southern Cal.
Seminole fans at Tomahawk Nation are dubious and I can't say I blame them. Whenever Lane Kiffin and the Trojans are involved in this sort of wackiness I get a little suspicious myself. I have no reason to believe that Kiffin found himself with another open scholarship and decided to give Thomas a call and see how happy he was. Other than the fact that it sounds like the kind of thing Kiffin would do.
Georgia in this scenario may just be the misdirection designed to make everything look plausible. Or, Thomas could legitimately be having second thoughts and want to go elsewhere, and may really be interested in coming to Athens. There's no way of knowing what's actually in the guy's heart.
What is not in his hand, at least not yet, is a release from Jimbo Fisher. It's hard not to look like kind of a jackass when you're a coach put in this situation. No one wants to have to answer questions about keeping teenage boys in indentured service. But if you're Jimbo and you've made plans and commitments based upon a legal contract signed by a player and his legal guardian, ought you not be entitled to rely on that? I think so.
But I also know that you can't make people stay where they don't want to. If Thomas really wants out of Tallahassee, he'll get out, even if he has to sit a year to do it. Thomas is a phenomenal talent, as athletic a linebacker as I saw in the last recruiting cycle. I'm not lying when I say he has the physical tools to be the next Jarvis Jones, which was probably part of the UGA recruiting pitch.
But I think Bulldog fans have to ask themselves whether they want to get involved with this situation. It just sounds like there's a whole lotta crazy going on. And if Thomas wasn't sure about FSU, what's to stop him from showing up in Athens and in mid-August deciding it's not for him either? Not to mention the fact that we actually ended up signing a really great group of linebackers in 2013, some of whom are already on campus and showing that they'll play from day one. Thomas may be a risk Georgia doesn't need to take at this point. Until later . . .