By Alex Byington
By the Book
"Few people can resist doing what is universally expected of them. This invisible pressure is more difficult to stand against than individual tyranny." - Charles Dudley Warner, "That Fortune"
Stanford or Texas? Texas or Stanford? It was a choice many would welcome with open arms.
But for 16-year-old Belton junior Durham Smythe, it was one that was weighing on his 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame considerably.
After Smythe committed to Texas last Thursday, both he and Belton head coach Rodney Southern pointed out that there wasn't a bad choice to be made.
And there wasn't. But, the problem isn't the choice.
It is the process and how it forces teenagers to make a decision quickly - sometimes before they are ready. How can there be a system that promotes student-athletes making a monumental decision that will drastically affect their entire future in only a month or two?
Smythe described a sense of relief after making his decision. Darius James, the highly-recruited Harker Heights offensive lineman with more than 17 scholarship offers, said it felt like a weight had been lifted after he committed to Texas early last week. It was the same for Knights athlete Naashon Hughes, who chose a grey shirt opportunity with the Longhorns over offers to play at LSU or South Carolina.
These decisions came after a whirlwind 30 days of being inundated with recruitment pitches between weekend road trips to campuses.
All this within six weeks of the first day college coaches are officially allowed to recruit juniors.
But what's the rush?
Beginning after National Signing Day, student-athletes are bombarded with pressure from every angle to make a choice, or at least give continual updates on their decision process. That pressure - be it from college coaches, fans, the media or even their friends and family - becomes understandably overwhelming.
But it's hasty decisions, regardless of how thought out or comfortable they may seem at the time, that promote the growing trend of decommittals - especially when a non-binding commitment doesn't stop other college programs from swooping in and picking off unsuspecting recruits.
Last year, the state saw several high profile recruits decommit from one program only to sign with another on National Signing Day.
The Houston area alone had at least five, including hot prospect Braylon Addison of Hightower who originally committed to Oklahoma State as a junior, changed his mind to Texas A&M then officially signed with Oregon.
Although I'd be highly surprised if this area experiences any such flip-flopping, the precedent is clearly out there.
Going to either Stanford or Texas, though, will never be a bad decision.
But making the decision early is where a lot of student-athletes go wrong.