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January 30, 2012

Top players tell others: Don't rush your decision

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

National Signing Day is just days away, yet dozens of members of the Rivals250 still have not committed to their future college program.

Some players, such as top-ranked Dorial Green-Beckham, have played their recruitment close to the vest.

Others, like No. 8 Stefon Diggs, have openly flirted with many teams and may not commit until after Signing Day.

Their reticence has been a source of frustration to college football fans eager to know which school will benefit from their commitment. But the other members of this prestigious group think those left undeclared are making the right decision by not making a decision until the end.

"Don't commit early," Jonathan Bullard, the No. 6 overall player said. "Unless you are ready to really commit to a program, don't do it. Take your visits. Take your time. Make it right."

Bullard, a defensive end, committed to Florida on national television during the U.S. Army All-American game earlier this month.

His advice to players in this or any class to make the choice yours.

"Take your visits," he said. "I don't think anyone should commit to a school before they see it. And I don't think anyone should commit before they are ready to give their word. It makes you look bad, like you are not a man of your word."

Bullard, from Shelby (N.C.) Crest, followed his own advice, taking trips to Nebraska, Clemson, South Carolina and Florida before committing.

He also advised members of the Class of 2013 - who will be on the clock once Signing Day passes - to be patient. And to not take the first big offer they get.

"I wasn't that big of a recruit early," he said. "I got my first offer (from South Carolina) the middle of my junior year, and I almost committed right then. I ended up with eight offers by the end of my junior year and was happy I waited it out.

"You are just a different person in such a short period of time that it doesn't make sense."

Bullard said that teammate Rhaheim Ledbetter was the prized prospect at Crest and was getting offers when he was a sophomore. Both will be going to Florida - the same place former Crest linebacker Brandon Spikes chose to attend.

Other prospects echoed Bullard's advice.

Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West defensive tackle Tommy Schutt, the No. 64 player in the Rivals100, committed to Notre Dame, Penn State, and Ohio State during his process. He wishes now he had only made one commitment.

Schutt said many factors played a role in his multiple changes of heart. Perhaps the biggest: He did not make the choice for himself.

He hopes future players won't make the same mistake he did.

"Don't take other people's word for it," he said. "There are things some people will think are great about a school or a campus that you won't and the other way around. You may have interests that they don't. You need to find out for yourself."

Schutt took an official to Ohio State in December after Urban Meyer joined the staff and committed to the Big Ten school.

"I was really glad I took the visit (to Ohio State)," he said. "It made a huge difference."

Just visiting a school, though, may not be enough.

Graham Shuler, who won the Doc Blanchard Award at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, said having people supporting him on his trips was important.

Shuler hails from Brentwood (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy, but he is headed across the country to Stanford.

"You can get impressed at every place you visit," he said. "Every school is going to show you the best parts of it, so you should have someone that can keep you balanced and make sure you are remembering what you saw at other schools. It can be overwhelming, but it is important to see the places."

While some may have different, level-headed and emotionless ways to approach the process, Prattville (Ala.) High defensive tackle Justin Shanks says it was much easier for him. He committed to Florida State in July.

"You'll know the feeling when it hits you," he said. "You can take your time if you want, but you know.

"You just know."

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