By Alex Byington
and Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
The growing trend in college recruiting is for high school prospects to commit earlier and earlier.
The University of Texas, which usually has one of the top football recruiting classes every year, has already received a nation's-best 22 non-binding verbal commitments for their 2011 signing class, including one of the first coming from Belton quarterback David Ash.
Ash, along with Copperas Cove defensive tackle Trevor Valdez (Baylor), each made their college decision less than two weeks removed from National Signing Day in February. Less than a month later, Ellison linebacker/fullback Devon Hocutt joined the fray by committing to Texas Tech, the first school to extend him an offer.
But for some rising seniors, such as Eagles tailback David Cobb and Bulldawg lineman Cody Elenz, it's just better to wait and see what's out there.
"Really, I'm just trying to find out what's best for me, what fits me best," said Cobb, who's ranked as a three-star prospect according to Scout.com. "I don't know what'll pop up, but really I'm just trying to stay open to all offers until maybe midseason."
The first day high school seniors can officially sign binding national letters of intent - known throughout the college football scene as National Signing Day - is not for another seven months.
A second wave of commitments usually comes after spring football practices and during the summer as players visit various schools. Killeen High quarterback Michael Cummings committed to Kansas in June, while Cove linebacker Brandon Durant gave his verbal to Texas-El Paso earlier this month.
"It's stressful to see other guys commit, but you just have to stay focused and understand that maybe that's what they feel is best for them, but what's best for them might not be what's best for me," said Cobb, who accounted for 51 percent of Ellison's rushing offense with 1,303 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior.
"I know committing early gives you that security because you have somewhere to go," Elenz said. "I'm just waiting - waiting for the right time."
With interest slow going, Cobb - a 6-foot, 215-pound north-south runner who's received scholarship offers from Stanford, North Texas and Memphis - said he's depending on another solid season to drum up more attention.
"I feel like a couple of schools are looking at me to see what I do (as a senior)," Cobb said. "I just want to give my best this last year."
The 6-foot-5, 283-pound Elenz, who admitted he had thoughts of committing early after receiving his first offer from Idaho at the start of the summer, is in the same boat.
"A small part of me wanted to jump on it and take it," said Elenz, who has since received a second offer from UTEP. "It was really cool - just someone offering you right there a full-ride scholarship. I knew I had to wait though."
So Cobb and Elenz have waited, weighing their options while attending various football camps across the country this summer in an attempt to impress the right coaches.
While Cobb has yet to formalize a solid list, Elenz lists his early favorites as Texas A&M and Texas Christian.
There's also been some friendly peer pressure from friends and family, each with their own pitches.
Elenz is hearing it from Durant and former Cove standout Cooper Brock, currently enrolled at UTEP, while Cobb has heard it from older brother Daniel, who's vying for a starting safety spot at Texas Tech this season, and best friend and teammate Hocutt. But both are choosing the wait-and-see approach.
"I'm really interested in the school," Elenz said of UTEP. "But I don't want to cut myself short and lose myself in a certain school. (My coaches) always say you have to keep your mind open to other colleges."