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Football recruits are smart to reserve spots via early commits, then visit other schools

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Welcome to The Crootletter (sign up to get this in your inbox every morning!). I'm Bud Elliott, SB Nation's National Recruiting Analyst, and in this space I'll be sharing news, rumors and musings on the world of college football recruiting.

Akers

Cam Akers, an Alabama running back commitment from Mississippi, announced that he plans to take trips to Auburn, Florida, Ohio State and Tennessee.

This practice of committing early and still planning to take all five visits is smart. A verbal commitment is like a dinner reservation. A recruit can make sure he has a spot at a school he likes, but can still look around after. If a player later gets hurt or declines, the school faces pressure not to drop a high school kid, though some still do. It's a way for a player to extract leverage from an otherwise unfair system.

Plus, official visits are free trips to fun places, and the recruit is able to gather more information about his choice when he takes his visits.

Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN talks to two coaches who are worried that more and more recruits are committing early, and that it will lead to more decommitments ($):

"It’s going to be epic," the coach said. "If you thought the decommitments last year were bad -- and they were -- then we’re gearing up for a recruiting cycle like we’ve never seen before. With so many schools pressuring guys to make early decisions, and both the schools and the kids knowing they don’t plan to stick with those decisions, it’s going to build toward a free-for-all in the final months of recruiting."

In the aggregate, it seems obvious that more early commitments will lead to more decommitments, but I think the fear mongering is too anecdotal. I have not seen the data that suggests way more recruits are committing early, or that the rate of decommitments is increasing.

I discussed negative recruiting recently with SB Nation's Steven Godfrey, and we agreed that the recruits who face the most negative recruiting are those who are targeted early on because opposing schools are able to focus on one target.

In a few years, perhaps this issue will be mitigated by the implementation of an early signing period.

Quickly

While we are now focused on the class of 2017, some schools are still adding 2016 players, like Arizona State did with a JUCO defensive back.

You should read this from Bill Connelly on the 20 best college football matchups of all time.

Previously

If you're a recent signup or missed a day, that's OK. I link my previous Crootletters in this section.

What happens during a junior day? I broke down this popular term.

Steven Godfrey and I discussed the mechanics and timing of negative recruiting.

I wrote 3,000 words on the top performers from Nike's The Opening Regional in Orlando. Here's offense and defense.

I wrote about how roster balance in recruiting can help with player development at other positions.

Which states kept top talent home the most? Plus, observations about in-state recruiting across the Southeast.