2011 safety recruit and soon-to-be Tennessee commit Pat Martin described life as a soft verbal best when he said, "Tennessee is my wife, the other schools are my girlfriends."
Indeed, soft verbals live the life every man claims to dream of. They hold their spot in one class while checking out their future in a few others.
But sometimes, the plan backfires. The wife grows tired of getting treated as a second-rate mate, and the scholarship, the dinner, and the warm slippers at night go to some other schlub.
Here are eight of the highest-profile soft verbals in the 2011 class. Needless to say, there will be many more than eight as we approach signing day and the heat is turned up. But seven times out of 10, the original commitment sticks. To quote Martin again, "It’s going to take a lot to get me to divorce my wife." Word.
Minnetonka, Minnesota defensive back James Farrow has put on a string of great performances at various camps across the Midwest, including the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Detroit, MI and at Iowa State.
Farrow softened his commitment to Minnesota back in May after continuing to pick up offers from Michigan, Wisconsin, Louisville, Michigan State and Arkansas despite his verbal.
Minnesota's status with him is unclear depending on who you read. Some list him a soft verbal, others as entirely decommitted from the Gophers since his visits. But without a leader, I wouldn't count the Gophers out entirely.
The Gophers have already lost RB Calvin Phillips to decommitment and suffered six decommitments in their last class, so a soft verbal is something Tim Brewster must be tired of explaining. Visiting other schools is no guarantee of a change in sympathy, but it does bode poorly for keeping Farrow in the fold.
Rivals' No. 23 athlete, Clifton Richardson,and fellow ATH Brandon Phelps are the headliners of Mike London's surprisingly good 2011 class.
Richardson has maintained his status as a soft verbal since kinda sorta committing to UVa back in March.
The versatile athlete verbaled to the Cavaliers on a visit, but said he wanted to look around at Tennessee, Maryland, and others before he claimed he was 100%.
Interestingly, Richardson has visited Virginia four times since...and hasn't visited another program.
This strongly indicates that London will hold onto his prized possession for the 2011 class. Unless Richardson sets a list of official visits for the school year, Virginia is the school to bet the smart money on.
Fresno, CA running back Brendon Bigelow is the No. 7 RB in the class per Rivals. He maintains a soft verbal to Washington and, as usual, is taking visits and accepting offers.
Cal and Notre Dame are the most recent names to enter his recruitment and generate some discussion. The Irish jumped into the mix with an offer about a month ago, and a possible visit was discussed.
The Bears hosted Bigelow and teammate BJ Kelley for an unofficial visit and some camp competition last month, and Kelley discussed possibly joining Bigelow in college. Kelley is pushing for an offer from Cal. If he gets it, the two could form a package deal.
One more complicating factor: Bigelow is coming off of an ACL injury that shortened his junior year, so as of now he has yet to prove he's 100% back to his old self. Any hiccups as a senior and programs, including UW, might lose interest.
In all my excitement about Stanford's 2011 class, I neglected to notice that MLB Anthony Sarao out of Absecon, NJ is listed as a soft commitment.
That, it turns out, is not necessarily because he wants to take other visits, but because his SAT score may not be good enough to qualify at Stanford.
Remember, the Cardinal set the bar for decommitments in 2010 with a whopping 17, most of which had to do with insufficient grades.
Still, Sarao has taken the window of opportunity to visit Nebraska, and the Huskers are in great shape for him.
Should he not qualify academically, Sarao looks to be a lock for the Huskers,. But if his SAT score is good enough, I think he'll stick with his Stanford commitment. We'll know soon enough.
Asheville, NC defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan committed to Florida in April, but the stability of that commitment was short-lived. After just over a month, Pagan announced he would take other visits and that his commitment was to hold his place in the Gators' 2011 class.
He'll spend July visiting other schools and hope to have a decision before then.
I don't claim to know everything about Florida recruiting, but I know it's not a school that takes kindly to soft commitments who like to visit other schools. It's still early enough in the recruiting process that Florida won't be sweating his verbal, but it's also not kosher to sit on a spot other players would be thrilled to take. It will be interesting to see what comes of the month of July for this kid.
Safety recruiting at Florida State has been a shifty business these past two years.
Another safety, Demar Dorsey, decommitted from Florida and chose Michigan over the Noles, only to be turned down by Michigan's admissions department. FSU snubbed him the second time around.
Natuurally, this year, both of Florida State's safety commitments qualify as soft.
Cortez Davis, a four-star ATH out of Daytona Beach, FL, is listed as soft by Rivals. The former Clemson commit is teammates with current Clemson commit Marlin Lane, so the coaches will be able to keep at him all throughout the recruiting process. Rivals also lists Florida, Memphis, Maryland and Nebraska among his "Medium" interests, apropos of what I'm not sure.
FSU's other safety commit, Karlos Williams, has said he remains committed to FSU but is "looking around." Alabama has struck a chord with 2011's No. 1 overall safety from Davenport, FL.
With Florida State's rejuvenated life on the recruiting trail, both may end up sticking around, but they are right in the middle of the reptile zoo, so to speak. I predict at least one follows through on a decommitment, which one I'm not sure.
Many college football fans looking forward to USC's post-sanction demise were quick to note that top 2011 athlete De'Anthony Thomas is listed a "soft verbal" to the Trojans. Is he the first casualty of the NCAA sanctions?
Turns out, Thomas has been a self-described soft verbal for some time. He is committed to the Trojans but wants to be able to take a visit to Washington and possibly others without having to explain himself.
On a night when USC picked up another commitment, this one from a four-star linebacker in Florida, it seems insane to suggest they'll miss out on a five-star prospect in their own backyard. Sanctions or no sanctions, USC is putting on a clinic.