By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Ashton Shumpert wants to be darn sure his decision is the right one.
As he patiently gathers information and considers his options, many of Shumpert’s fellow high school football players have already made a decision on where to play in college. Even though signing day is six months away, this time of year sees a slew of verbal commitments.
Mississippi State, for example, has 11 commitments for the class of 2013. During a four-day span in June, seven prospects committed to MSU.
The Bulldogs are one of several teams going after Shumpert, a running back and safety for Itawamba AHS (he was previously at Tupelo). He’s got offers from Alabama, Georgia, Memphis, MSU, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Vanderbilt.
A recruit will often name a “leader” among those who have offered. Not Shumpert. Everybody is on the same level right now.
“I’m still taking it real slow, just looking at everybody,” he said.
Shumpert has visited several schools, including a recent trip to Vanderbilt. He plans on visiting MSU and Ole Miss later this month. He said there are two main things he’s looking at when visiting a school: “See how the coaches get along, see how the players are liking it.”
Shumpert said he tries to take the emotion out of the decision-making process. The mind and heart of a 17- or 18-year-old kid can be easily swayed when visiting a campus, which is one reason so many will commit and then later retract the commitment after visiting elsewhere.
“Every time I go it’s either my grandparents or my father telling me to look at the bigger picture instead of, like, a facility, because all the schools are going to have something good like that,” Shumpert said.
Even once the summer is over, Shumpert won’t be in any hurry to make a decision. In fact, teams vying for his services would do well to win a few ballgames this autumn.
“I’m kind of going to make my decision on how the college season goes, how each team’s season goes,” he said. “That’s going to have a whole lot to do with my decision.”
Taking pressure off
A drawback to waiting so long to commit is that the recruiting process will only intensify for Shumpert, and there’s the potential of it being a distraction from what he’s trying to do at IAHS.
Starkville athlete Gabe Myles was one of those players to commit to MSU during that four-day span last month, making the call on June 12. He said the recruiters have backed off since then, and he doesn’t plan to visit any more schools.
Now he can focus on the coming football season.
“I felt it was time to go ahead and do it,” said Myles, who was also offered by Ole Miss. “I hate to say get it out of the way, but go ahead and say this is where I want to play, and don’t have to worry about anything else.”
Like Shumpert, Myles believes a verbal commitment should mean something. He feels he made a well-informed decision, but his heart played a big role in it, too.
“I guess it’s different for me than any other kid, because I always wanted to play at Mississippi State,” Myles said. “That’s been a dream of mine, and when you get what you want, you don’t want anything else.”