Myron Turner, Mike Leach, and the shady side of recruiting

James Snook-US PRESSWIRE

What happened with Myron Turner? Odds are we'll never know, but it's part of the game in recruiting.

Let's start with what we know. Myron Turner is a class of 2013 safety from Desoto High School in Texas. He's ranked as a three-star by Scout and committed to Washington State early in July. Turner visited Washington State this weekend, as well. Finally, his high school coach is upset and came out publicly saying Washington State head coach Mike Leach would no longer be allowed at Desoto after something happened with Turner's offer in the past few days.

That's all we know, really, and it's another reminder about how recruiting can be a somewhat shady game. But it's important to remember that this is only one side of the story, and in all likelihood we'll never get the other side. There is, however, context to keep in mind when trying to figure out what all happened.

Let's start with official visits. Turner finally made it up to Pullman on Jan. 18 -- one of the later official visit dates an athlete can have. We're close to signing day, which doesn't leave a whole lot of wiggle room. Turner committed in July, but had yet to visit the campus -- an important part in the recruiting process.

When you think of an official visit, you probably think of recruits being wined and dined, and a lot of pressure to commit. Sure that's true for the top targets, but for the most part an official is a job interview. Coaches and players are feeling out recruits, seeing if they're a fit -- both athletically and in a family sense. In fact, many schools have a rule that a recruit cannot commit -- their commitment will not be accepted even if they announce their intentions -- until they visit the campus.

Turner did finally visit, then apparently had his offer pulled. We don't know why his offer was pulled, and probably never will. Was it because Washington State had filled the number of defensive back slots it set aside for the recruiting class, forcing the coaches to prune? Was it grades? Was it that Turner didn't end up being a fit? We don't know, and can only guess.

Early commitments are a gift and a curse, as well. On one hand, there's typically a lot of pressure on recruits to commit early to secure their slot. On the other, a lot can happen between the summer before a recruit's senior year and the time in which they sign their name on the dotted line. Recruits flip, coaches decide to go in different directions, entire staffs may change.

In the case of Turner, his primary recruiter was Jeff Choate Eric Morris. In December, Choate left for UTEP Morris left for Texas Tech. In doing so, Turner's lifeline to WSU -- the man recruiting him and likely the person who was his advocate within the coaching staff -- took off. When the primary recruiter goes, all bets are off. That's the guy a player feels a connection with, and it's not uncommon to see a recruit open it back up. By the same token, the primary recruiter has "his guys" that he deals with. Losing Choate Morris may have created a bit of a unique situation here.

Edit: After checking into it, Turner was actually recruited by Eric Morris. The above passage has been corrected to reflect that.

Unfortunately for Turner, it looks like he's out in the cold. But we don't know what happened -- NCAA rules prevent coaches from speaking about recruits. That means Turner's coach could fire off whatever he wanted to fire off, knowing full well that there would be no push back. In doing so, he was able to get Turner's name in the press, which brings attention to the recruit and, perhaps, lines up a few more offers. Strongly-worded statements banning coaches from high schools have been all the rage, and almost without fail they go "viral."

It's unfortunate that the parting of ways happened just about two weeks before signing day, but it happens. This might've been a case where the coaches were on the fence and wanted to see Turner in person before making a decision. Because, again, an official visit is like a job interview in a lot of ways.

Recruiting is a somewhat shady game, and this is on the lower end of the spectrum. Back in September, I had been keeping a keen eye on USC's recruiting class, for instance. With the sanctions, the class had filled up with some of the best recruits in the nation. It became clear that the Trojans were going to have to "prune" players as signing day got closer. USC was going to have to pull some scholarship offers and figure out how to make all the numbers work. It's been messy. And still, it's understandable: There's a set limit of scholarships and schools have to make the numbers work. In terms of how recruiting works, the numbers side isn't as bad as other things.

This happens everywhere, all the time, and for reasons that remain unknown. Maybe a player doesn't fit in with what a coaching staff is trying to build. Maybe a better player was found. Maybe grades are an issue. Maybe, maybe, maybe. It doesn't make pulling offers all right, but it happens all the time -- Paul Wulff had a similar situation happen with Jordan Pulu, who ended up at Eastern.

I do hope Turner finds a landing spot. At the same time, it's probably better that the decision to part ways was made now. Had the offer remained on the table just to satisfy a high school head coach, we're probably looking at a player who ends up being depth chart fodder -- buried before having to make a decision about whether to stay or go. In that regard, it's better to make the call now, when eligibility isn't on the line.

Even still, the numbers game and recruiting as a whole is somewhat slimy, especially when you realize how the sausage is made.

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