When JP Urquidez committed to Baylor in April of 2015, he was all in. The four-star, 6'7, 300-pound offensive tackle asked his high school coach at Copperas Cove (Texas), about an hour from Waco, not to pull him out of classes when coaches from other universities came to visit. He would visit no other schools after that.
He helped recruit others to Baylor. He and his family were overjoyed. His grandparents joined the Alumni Association in order to get tickets to watch their grandson play.
In February, before multiple Outside the Lines reports on Baylor were published and before a Title IX lawsuit was filed against head coach Art Briles, JP signed with the Bears. He was set to enroll early this week.
When his father, Julian, called me Wednesday evening, he was angry. Just six days earlier, Baylor had released the findings from a report detailing one of the largest sexual assault scandals ever to rock college sports and fired Briles. Baylor's athletic director, president and two staffers are also gone.
(Obviously there are larger issues in the Baylor scandal and people hurt far worse than the Urquidez family. SB Nation will continue to cover many angles of this story.)
"He's a military kid. I'm an active duty army officer. JP has lived in 15 different houses. He's attended eight different schools. And the one thing we wanted from a program was stability," Julian said, adding that the family didn't want a "campus filled with allegations, investigations and lawsuits," which has become more and more the case over the last few months.
The Urquidezes no longer want anything to do with Baylor.
They filed for a release from his National Letter of Intent on Friday, joining six other freshman players who are choosing not to enroll. They say they would not have considered Baylor had they known of the investigation and its findings.
"Following the investigation, it was found that Baylor mishandled and at times ignored sexual assault allegations. This is not the Baylor University that we signed a National Letter of Intent with," Julian said in a tweeted statement prior to our phone conversation. "Not only did Baylor let these incoming freshmen down, but it let down the victims."
"They want him to be a part of a solution to a problem he was never a part of. It's not fair to him. He's been committed to that school early on. Our whole family committed. Our house is full of green and gold. We bought in completely, and we're crushed," JP's mother, Emily, said. "And it's more than Briles. The whole environment is toxic, and there is no way a kid should have to go there."
"We were shocked and appalled when we found out Thursday the severity and widespread extent of Baylor's wrongdoing in multiple instances," Julian said. "We had no idea. Now that we know, we will not be a part of that.
"For us, this isn't about football. This is about our son being able to attend college in an environment consistent with our family values," Julian said.
They say JP has even been the target of harassment for his college choice.
"A gentleman came up and said, 'Hey, are you ready to get up there and start raping?' to JP at a high school baseball game," Julian said.
The Urquidezes repeatedly tried to get answers from Baylor once the news broke, but couldn't get anyone to return their calls.
"The Baylor football staff and university he committed to and signed with is no longer there today. Any time we called Baylor University, we always received a call back. Any time we went to visit, the door was wide open to us. That's not the case now."
Visits: 1, Answers: 0
So they drove down Friday morning.
"We couldn't even get in the front door of the athletic department because they had locked the doors," Julian said of the chaotic situation. Baylor denied access to media and the public the day after the news broke.
"So we walked around the building until two graduate assistants saw us. As they opened the door, they questioned us, and they know exactly who we are. They knew who we were, but were nervous to open the door. And you want me to drop my son off at this type of atmosphere?"
They say they ended up speaking with Keith Miller, the associate athletics director for compliance. SB Nation has reached out to both Baylor officials named by the family and will update with their responses.
"He told us Friday that Baylor would have a determination on Baylor's timeline regarding the release from the National Letter of Intent early next week and that we'd be hearing from them," Julian said. "Before I left the office, I picked up my phone and called the number he gave me. He answered. I told him I wanted to make sure this was a good working number, since you're telling me to call you on Memorial Day."
Emily said she confirmed with Miller that Memorial Day, not just Monday, would be their next planned call.
"I called him three times on Monday and received no call back," said Julian.
The Urquidez family knew Baylor was in crisis mode on Friday. But the continued ignoring of planned calls showed them Baylor still didn't have its act together and wasn't making JP a priority, they say.
"They have no plan and gave no assurances," Emily said.
"It was very obvious, so at that point my wife decided that I needed to drive back down on Tuesday morning," Julian said.
Visits: 2, Answers: 0
He says he spoke with Chad Jackson, the senior associate athletics director. Julian said that Jackson told him Baylor was not ready to give a decision on the release.
What he did get, he said, was a lecture.
"He explained to me that Baylor had 30 days under NCAA rules to make a decision on the releases. So I responded by asking if Baylor planned to use all 30 days, and was told that I was simply being educated to the process. I got the message that he wanted to be demeaning."
Julian says he was told no decision would be made until a player speaks with new coach Jim Grobe. He says he offered for JP to speak with Grobe in person on Tuesday, but was told Grobe was unavailable. Grobe was hired on Monday.
He left without a timeline but with the understanding that Baylor likely intends to use its 30 days.
JP tried to call to speak to Coach Grobe on Tuesday and couldn't get a call back. FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman reported another four-star signee, cornerback Parrish Cobb, received a visit from Grobe and three Baylor coaches Wednesday but likewise remains unclear on his future.
"We've yet to talk to the head football coach," Julian said. "During the recruiting process, they always have time for you. But now nobody has called me, my wife or JP. I understand that Coach Grobe had to pass his NCAA recruiting compliance test, but that's been done now."
Grobe passed that test Tuesday morning, per the Dallas Morning News.
Is Baylor trying to wait out disgruntled recruits, or is it just disorganized right now?
If Baylor does use all its time and then deny the release, an appeal could stretch into August, with further appeals lasting closer to the start of the college football season.
"I'm not sure if the goal is to hold on to the request for 29 more days or what, but we feel like we are fighting for all the kids," Emily said.
A school could hope to win the waiting game, betting that signees will simply elect to enroll and not miss out on the 2016 season. That won't happen with JP, the family says.
"Under no circumstances will JP be attending Baylor," Julian said, adding that the families of the recruits holding out all talk and "none have intentions of enrolling at Baylor."
Recruits can't pick another school until Baylor issues the release or is told to do so via NCAA appeal.
Due to NCAA rules, a prospect is bound via the National Letter of Intent for a year. What schools might Urquidez consider? At this point, he's not sure. Other schools cannot call Urquidez until he is released.
"We can call, but they cannot return a phone call or reach out to us. That is why it is so important for Baylor to give JP the release so he can figure out his recruiting process."
And if he wants to attend another school without the release, he'd have to pay his own way for the first year.
Baylor should not try to wait out these players.
As of noon Thursday, the Urquidezes were still waiting.
Baylor has rightly received a ton of negative press for this fiasco.
"The true victims in all this are the women who were assaulted and raped," Julian says.
That will be prolonged if it tries to force these seven kids to stick with their letters of intent, because every time the athletes' dispute with Baylor is updated via the media, the ugly scandal will be mentioned again. Baylor would be wise to let these kids go as quickly as possible. Its 2016 roster should be among the least of its concerns right now.