Updates from Monday, Feb. 10
Josh Helmholdt of Rivals.com has the latest on Malik McDowell after signing day:
The choice of Michigan State was McDowell's, but his parents have been clear that they would like to see their son at one of his other finalists. Exploring those possibilities more in-depth is likely over the coming weeks according to his father, Greg McDowell.
"I know he is open to taking some unofficials to Florida State and Ohio State," Greg McDowell said. "We plan on doing some unofficials and see if he and his mom can resolve this. It's possible she'll be open to Michigan State as well, so we'll have to see."
Greg McDowell also noted that Michigan is still in the picture, and conversations are ongoing with all three finalists he did not pick on National Signing Day.
"One thing I have to say about those schools is after hearing everything, they were calling -- not on the recruiting aspect, but calling to see if the family was all right," Greg McDowell said.
However, McDowell's coach says that the defensive end will stay with Michigan State (via Tom Markowski of the Detroit News):
Despite published reports that Southfield lineman Malik McDowell is strongly considering taking unofficial visits to Ohio State and Florida State, Southfield coach Tim Conley said McDowell is sticking with Michigan State.
Messages left with Greg McDowell were not returned but Conley said says “no” to any such visits.
“I don’t think the visits are set,” Conley said. “I think it’s something his dad is wishing for, but Malik hasn’t said anything but MSU.”
Malik McDowell, a coveted 5-star defensive end, says he's going to Michigan State. He did so publicly at a press conference held on national signing day at Southfield High School (Southfield, Mich.), which was specifically held so that he could announce his future destination.
However, it seems like McDowell isn't quite ready to make that announcement official by signing his name on the dotted line. Matt Charboneau of the The Detroit News reported that McDowell was not included on the list of Spartans Class of 2014 commits handed out to media Wednesday, Feb. 5, because the school has not yet received his national letter of intent:
MSU hands out its list of 2014 recruits and Malik McDowell is not included.— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) February 5, 2014
Later in the evening the Free Press updated their list with his name, but with a disclaimer that his letter had still not been sent to Michigan State.
NCAA rules prohibit schools and coaches from mentioning players specifically by name who are not contractually committed to the school. Speaking of his recruiting class, which checks in at No. 25 in 247Sports' composite rankings , coach Mark Dantonio cryptically referred to his two "for now" defensive-end signees and generally mentioned kids on the fence who had not yet sent in their LOI, per Charboneau:
Dantonio says we have two defensive ends "for right now."— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) February 5, 2014
Dantonio talks about "other guys on the fence who have not signed papers yet." Very excited about those guys— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) February 5, 2014
Without a signed national letter of intent, players are not contractually obligated to any school regardless of their public comments. There will be nothing preventing McDowell from signing his letter of national intent after Wednesday's proverbial "signing day." While an overwhelming majority of prep stars prefer to solidify their futures at the first opportunity, the NCAA's signing period lasts until April 1 for football players.
McDowell can sign and fax his LOI to East Lansing anytime between now and then, assuming the Spartans do not rescind his scholarship offer.
Still, with McDowell looking like one of the many who were committed on the first day possible, one has to wonder what happened.
He chose Michigan State over fellow finalists Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State. He also chose the Spartans against the wishes of his parents, who have both stated they hoped their son would go elsewhere.
“I took a lot of input from my family,” McDowell said, per Joe Rexrode and Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press. “I listened to what they said. But I still had to make my own decision.”
Despite his objections, Greg McDowell, Malik's father, backed his son and acted at the press conference as if the ink had already dried on the letter of intent.
“I feel good about the decision," Greg McDowell said. "My son, he stood up and said, ‘Hey, this is where I want to be.’ And despite my reservations and his mom’s reservations, I fully support my son. He showed me a lot today, he stood firm and didn’t back down from anything."
The reason for the delay is unclear at this time. It could be something as simple as not getting to a fax machine in time for Dantonio's press conference. Or McDowell's parents could have made one last-ditch push for him to go elsewhere, or perhaps even the young man himself instantly regretted the decision.
Last year, a similarly strange situation played itself out when Arkansas running-back commit Alex Collins' mother stole his letter of intent and prohibited him from sending it. Collins' mother eventually acquiesced and he gained 1,026 yards as a freshman with the Razorbacks.
Odds are, if McDowell's parents are holding out in similar fashion, this situation will work itself out. If McDowell has changed his mind himself, however, expect a rabid chase from now until the next press conference.