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Gorman: Colleges fail to keep their word

| Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, 8:32 p.m.
McKeesport quarterback Eddie Stockett (5) breaks through the offensive line on his way for a long run against Gateway in the second quarter on Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, at Weigele-Schaffer Memorial Stadium. Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Gateway quarterback Thomas Woodson breaks a tackle attempt by North Allegheny's Layne Skundrich at Antimarino Stadium on Friday October 5, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

College football's coaching carousel wasn't the only cause for panic in Western Pennsylvania.

The connect-the-dots theory that followed Bret Bielema's leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas prompted paranoia by Pitt fans that Paul Chryst would return home and leave the Panthers looking for their sixth head coach in a two-year span.

Two WPIAL quarterbacks encountered a different kind of desperation upon learning that their Division I scholarship offers had disappeared.

McKeesport's Eddie Stockett had committed to Akron and Gateway's Thomas Woodson to Arizona last summer, only to find that the coaches who recruited them wouldn't keep their word.

Now is the time to remind you that verbal commitments are non-binding until prospects sign a national letter of intent in February.

But for all of the criticism directed at teenagers who waver on their college choices, it's time to point the finger at coaches who break their word as easily as they do long-term contracts.

Where Chryst offered college football a breath of fresh air by not pursuing a chance to return to his hometown and alma mater, the moves by Akron and Arizona exposed its underbelly.

Quarterback, in particular, is the one position where scholarships are limited because teams tend to take only one per recruiting class. To have an offer pulled this late, when most schools have filled their needs, leaves limited opportunities for players on the Division I bubble.

“It's definitely hard to get recruited as a quarterback,” Stockett said. “Not everyone knows that it's hard to get a scholarship offer as a quarterback. Me and Tommy were under the radar, and that's why people didn't pull the trigger on us. We weren't a threat because we didn't have any other offers.”

Where Stockett said his break with Akron was mutual, Gateway coach Terry Smith was disgusted that Arizona waited until December to pull its offer and didn't give Woodson the courtesy of a phone call.

Not surprisingly, Akron offered Woodson. Now, Stockett needs to find a new home.

If there is one positive product of the coaching carousel, it's that there are coaches at new schools looking for a quarterback.

“That's the thing I'm anticipating to see for both Woodson and Stockett,” Smith said. “How the trickle-down effect happens, and they start jockeying for position on a quarterback.”

They would be wise to get their next offer in writing.

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