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July 10, 2013

Early offers polarizing issue for coaches, recruits

MORE: Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

DeSOTO, Texas -- Class of 2017 prospect Anthony Hines is among the rare athletes who can keep track of interviews he's done.

The Dallas (Texas) Episcopal School prospect was among the 235 participants at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenged presented by Under Armour and -- one of the few who are just rising freshman.

He has offers from Mississippi State, Akron and Montana -- and was talking to a reporter for only the fifth time.

"I am starting to get more comfortable with it all," he said. "I haven't done that many interviews but I just try to answer honestly and be myself.

"It is really cool to have offers and get this kind of attention."

At most other events Hines would have been the talk of the young participant list, but at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge he was overshadowed by Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab athlete Dylan Moses -- who has been on the cover of a national magazine, has offers from most every SEC school as well as others across the country, and is loving it -- and, to some extent, Mansfield (Texas) Lake Ridge linebacker Loren Mondy who made his own headlines by committing to Arizona State a week before the circuit-ending camp.

Mondy said that the trio knows each other and have become friends through the early stages of their recruitment.

"We all played in the Eastbay game together so we are all kind of friends," he said. "We all talk and it is cool that we are all able to go through this stuff together."

Mondy committed to the Pac-12 program to follow in his father's footsteps.

Michael Mondy played for Sun Devils coach Todd Graham in high school and at East Central University. The 14-year-old Loren said that from what he has heard of Graham, it was enough.

"I love the Arizona State campus and I wanted to play for Coach Graham because of what my dad has said about him," the younger Mondy said. "My dad said told me that (Graham) likes guys who work hard and is a man of his word."

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said that the early attention is confounding.

"In some instances, you can rationalize it," he said. "Some of those guys look older, bigger (and) faster ... and there are some cases I have no idea why a school would feel the need to jump in and offer a kid so early. They have four more years to develop, so what is the rush?

"From the kids' perspective it becomes a work-ethic worry for me," Farrell said. "They have already gotten an offer, which is a goal for just about every kid playing high school football before they even played in high school. How do they push to be the best? Will they stay grounded? Kids consistently need reminded to stay humble and work but if the motivation is to get an offer and they have one so young will all of those questions become problems."

Farrell said offering young prospects has become a hot-button issue among coaches and recruiting analysts.

"It is pretty polarizing right now," he said. "No one wants to be the last offer, but now it has become a race to become the first and it has been a couple of schools more than others."

[ MORE: Moses maintains calm amid clamor ]

When Mondy made his commitment to Arizona State, it was rare for the program.

He said that he knows the importance of staying humble. He added that it won't be hard for him to keep his wits as he has three more years in the spotlight.

"My dad plays a role in keeping me humble, plus we go to church a lot and I understand that is important to stay humble," Mondy said.

"I have other role models that share their beliefs and have stayed humble. Ray Lewis is not shy about his faith, and even though he likes to celebrate I think he is humble and he was one of the best linebackers ever. And Tim Tebow is in the league and stays humble as well."

Hines is focused on continued improvement -- not only for his future but to keep the offers he has.

The three athletes can only have verbal offers from colleges and each of those offers are still contingent on many factors -- not just football development and grades.

"Mississippi State told me to keep hitting the gym and getting better and they will be there for me," Hines said. "Akron said they loved my game already and to keep my grades up. Montana told me that I could be their starting running back right now -- which is crazy because the guy that is starting for them is a junior in college and I just finished the eighth grade."

As his game develops, Hines will lose track of his interviews and start counting his offers.

"With all of the attention all of the older guys are getting, I figure that will happen to me," he said. "I am just getting used to it all right now, so it is great."



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