When is a verbal commitment not a verbal commitment? When it's four-star cornerback prospect Duke Shelley announcing he's a Tennessee Volunteer and it's reportedly without Tennessee's awareness.
Step 1: Shelley's announcement.
I'm officially a VOL— AmericanBadBoy (@DukeSaysGo) February 18, 2014
"Officially" is a pretty binding word in recruiting, even when these guys can't sign for another 11 months and change. But there's got to be two sides to this process, even when one side (the school) isn't allowed to comment publicly on unsigned recruits, and Tennessee is reportedly not quite on board with Shelley's announcement. To wit, this note from the Tennessee board on 247Sports.com (premium link):
Shelley reported Monday night on his Twitter account that he's "officially a VOL," but he was a bit premature in saying that. As of late Monday night, we have yet to receive official confirmation that Tennessee has accepted Shelley's commitment, and we're probably going to have to wait until sometime Tuesday for further clarification on his situation.
[...] As of late Monday night, Shelley still hadn't talked to a full-time member of Tennessee's staff, which is obviously necessary for a commitment to become official.
At issue is allegedly Shelley's size; he was reportedly measured at 5'8 at Tennessee's junior day, which can be a concern for coaches at the next level, and that's particularly frustrating because his athleticism, skills and drive are all unimpeachable. And it may be the case that Tennessee looks past the size and gives this commit a thumbs-up as of Tuesday anyway. But whenever there's a disparity between what a recruit thinks and his recruiter thinks, it's not a great sign.
Also, Tennessee's apparent communication with 247Sports.com on this one underscores the futile and archaic nature of current recruiting rules. Just let the schools and coaches talk about their recruits. This is a silly, stupid charade, and any concern about shielding athletes from the spotlight of recruiting news is pretty much out the window now; this is the age of social media and multiple recruiting websites. They're all already in the news. Wouldn't it be nice to just hear from Tennessee head coach Butch Jones whether Shelley has a real, "commitable" offer and be done with this in five seconds?