Signing Day 2017’s greatest drama has been the one surrounding four-star defensive end Sebastian River (Fla.) defensive end Jarez Parks.
Parks is one of the 10 or so best defensive ends in the country. He’s long been considered an Alabama lean, but he delayed his Wednesday announcement, reportedly because Alabama wasn’t sure it would have enough scholarships to take him. He also has offers from Clemson, Florida State, Michigan, Georgia, and those types.
Parks tweeted out his commitment to the Tide later, via a pre-recorded video by Bleacher Report. And the Tide reportedly are using a workaround to bring him into the fold:
What “grayshirting” means: Parks would not enroll as a full-time student until the spring semester next year. This would allow Alabama not to count him against the NCAA-mandated 85-scholarship limit for the upcoming season. The NCAA only allows 25 “initial counters” to join a program on scholarship in any one class, but Parks enrolling next January would allow the Tide to choose which class to count him against.
The grayshirt is a roster flexibility tool. It’s not uncommon, but it’s not looked on kindly, especially if it’s sprung on a player late in the recruiting year.
“For schools in areas where high school coaches reign as champions of football — you’re talking Ohio, you’re talking Florida, you’re talking Texas — those states, if you screw somebody, they are gonna blacklist you,” one recruiting coordinator recently told SB Nation. “When you try to drop somebody or you try to get out of a scholarship or you try to maneuver to add a number and grayshirt a kid, it winds up being a bad look in the area, and word gets around quickly. That’s the fact of the matter.”
The grayshirt is used for recruits who fit in at the bottom of a team’s class. You’ll see it used not infrequently on two- or three-star recruits. You won’t see it often for an elite defensive end who has scholarship offers from a long laundry list of the best teams in the country. If Parks is leaving dozens of good offers on the table so he can grayshirt in Tuscaloosa and not start school until next winter, it’s a pretty great deal for the Tide.