No Harm, No Foul in College Football Coaches Recruiting 8th-Graders

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterFebruary 24, 2014

LSU head coach Les Miles
LSU head coach Les MilesChris O'Meara/Associated Press

In what's become an annual offseason happening, another middle-schooler has made recruiting waves—and it's for a familiar program.

According to Sonny Shipp of, eighth-grade quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann from Somerset, Texas, has committed to head coach Les Miles and the LSU Tigers. Dinkelmann, the nephew of former BYU quarterback and 1990 Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer, is a 6'3", 190-pounder who already looks the part of an established high school star.

This isn't uncharted waters for Miles and the Tigers. In fact, it's par for the course.

According to James Smith of, Miles offered Baton Rouge (University High), La., athlete Dylan Moses as an eighth-grader and got a commitment from the 6'1", 215-pound linebacker/running back early during his freshman year of high school in September 2013.

This also isn't uncharted waters for college football in general.

Moses had offers from FBS programs around the country when he committed to the Tigers, Kentucky offered then-seventh-grader Jairus Brents last offseason after the 5'8", 158-pounder attended a camp in front of head coach Mark Stoops, and former USC head coach Lane Kiffin offered 2015 quarterback prospect David Sills when he was still in middle school.

Out of line? Shameless? Ridiculous? 

Absolutely not.

In fact, offering younger players is incredibly smart for college football programs.

This isn't a case of coaches taking advantage of younger players or looking to make a public spectacle of the process. It's a case of college football head coaches doing their jobs.

Recruiting is a contact sport, and the more contact a head coach makes, the better off he is. 

Dave Martin/Associated Press

The recruiting process is dripping with semantics. Commitments aren't commitments until players sign on the dotted line on national signing day, and offers aren't official offers until the summer before a prospect's senior season. In the case of some offers, they aren't even committable until the head coach sees the prospect in camp, like Alabama's Nick Saban routinely does with junior quarterbacks.

It's all about developing relationships, and in the case of Dinkelmann, what's not to like?

He's already got the stature of a prospect, has elite bloodlines and now has a purple-and-gold goal staring him straight in the face. Now he knows that LSU thinks highly enough of him that it thinks he can be their guy, and can build that trust even more as he works towards his goal of becoming a college quarterback.

These younger prospects know that the process is still ongoing, and several factors could change the landscape for them in the future. 

It's a middle school relationship.

Do middle school couples like each other? Yes. Do they love each other? Maybe. Do they spend the rest of their lives together? Sometimes, but it's not even a realistic thought at the time.

Good for Miles for taking the initiative to recognize talent early and be proactive enough to begin developing that relationship early.

More importantly, good for Dinkelmann. Getting a college offer and committing to an SEC power as a middle-schooler has to be the thrill of a lifetime.


* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.



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