Four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher may be committed to USC, but apparently he's leaving his options open, and that includes taking official visits to Kentucky, Florida and Louisville along with one to the Trojans.
Hatcher has been committed to USC since July, so the Trojans have to be feeling pretty good about that. However, as with any commitment, nothing is final until National Signing Day.
In fact, according to Justin Rowland of CatsIllustrated.com, Hatcher's coach, Bob Beatty, did not attend Hatcher's announcement party because he reportedly did not believe in its finality:
"I said, 'I'm not going to that,'" Beatty told Cats Illustrated on Monday. "It means nothing. Recruiting has changed such a great deal. That's why I tell our athletes, 'If you have a verbal commitment I would still keep five doors open. I've coached in college ball. I know how the (recruiting) boards work and how priorities work. I've been through that process."
Hatcher looks too be heeding his coach's words and has scheduled official visits, per Rowland's report.
Hatcher seems to be taking Beatty's advice. He has official visits set to Kentucky (Jan. 11), USC (Jan. 18), Florida (Jan. 25) and Louisville (Feb. 2).
Should USC be worried about potentially losing the 4-star defensive end's commitment, especially with official visits to SEC programs and Louisville coming up?
Frankly, the answer to that question should always be yes.
The simple fact of the matter is that Coach Beatty has it right. The world of college football recruiting is extremely unpredictable and things can change at a moment's notice. The very nature of verbal commitments is that players can go back on them (no matter your feelings on the topic) and a verbal commitment won't stop other programs from trying to flip a player, either.
Official visits add a whole other dimension to that equation as well, because then a program and coaching staff can dedicate time to really selling their program and pitching against the other school.
In USC's case, it also has a disadvantage because of proximity. Hatcher is from Louisville, Ky., which is quite far from Southern California. He's already made his commitment, so that distance obviously isn't a huge factor, but you can bet that Kentucky, Louisville and even Florida will try to convince the talented end to play closer to home.
Hatcher's current head coach is obviously very vocal about advising his players to keep their options open, so that's another factor USC will have to think about as well. If Hatcher goes into these visits with that mindset, anything is possible.
The Trojans will have their own official visit with Hatcher, which could end up being a game-changer for USC. However, also look at the timing of these visits. Florida, and ultimately Louisville, will have the chance to make the final impressions with Hatcher.
When you add it all up, USC has to be feeling somewhat worried about its chances of holding on to Hatcher's commitment.