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High school football player reportedly 'catfished' into false Florida commitment

Houshun Gaines was reportedly duped by someone posing as a Gators assistant coach.

Rob Foldy

Rocky Mount (N.C.) Nash Central defensive end Houshun Gaines, a three-star prospect in the Class of 2015, announced his commitment Friday to the Florida Gators. The problem? The assistant coach he thought he had been talking to was reportedly a fake, according to Nash Central athletic director Michael Mosley.

Mosley told the Rocky Mount Telegram he believed Gaines was tricked by someone who posed as Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing on Twitter.

"When I talked to a coach, they told me they hadn't spoke to Gaines in several weeks," Mosley said. "I think he was talking to someone he thought was a coach. I guess he said (on Friday) that he had talked to a coach the night before, but they said he hadn't talked to anybody on the coaching staff."

A quick Twitter search reveals Gaines and Lawing have definitely had contact, as shown by this tweet, originally from a Rivals writer and retweeted by Gaines.

It is entirely possible this was a malicious catfish, as Mosley suggests, but if so, the responsibility falls on him and Nash Central head coach Kevin Crudup to ensure that their players are actually speaking with verified members of a college coaching staff.

It's also possible this was a misunderstanding, as we do not know why anyone would want to do this. Gaines was caught in one of the grayest possible areas of recruiting -- he reportedly received a verbal, non-committable offer last spring. What is a non-committable offer? Worthless, essentially -- it's a promise that if there's enough space in the class (as in, if blue-chip defensive end targets Byron Cowart and CeCe Jefferson go elsewhere), then maybe a commitment will be accepted.

There appears to be just one Brad Lawing Twitter account currently, @CoachLawing. The account does follow Gaines' Twitter as well as a number of other high school prospects. A request to confirm that account as Lawing's has not yet been returned by the Florida athletic department.

Gaines still has other options, assuming Florida does not work out. The prospect claims offers from Virginia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Boston College and Miami, among others.

Update: Gaines claims he was sent an actual offer letter that looks an awful lot like the real offer letters that Florida sends out, although Florida coaches say they have no idea where he got it. Here, from Gaines' Twitter account:

For comparison's sake, here is the Florida offer letter sent to Gator commit Tyler Jordan:

If you are having some trouble reading all of that, our Florida blog, Alligator Army, has the text breakdown of what goes into a Florida offer letter.

According to WNCN, Gaines' father, Jeff, got a call about an hour after the news conference saying the Florida coaching staff didn't know what was going on.