Reuben Foster knew that his statement would have to be bold and resolute.
It would have to be downright unshakable; leaving no doubt about his genuineness to follow through on his word.
It makes sense.
After all, Foster, the top linebacker in the Rivals100 and a preseason American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection, would first have to back out of his year-long commitment to Alabama before committing to Auburn.
That’s why he didn’t think twice on that muggy afternoon in mid-July of this year, when he shelled out $120 and added what he referred to as “an exclamation point” to his pledge to the Tigers by getting the Auburn logo tattooed on his forearm.
“I knew that I needed to really show people that this was it,” said Foster, a senior at Auburn (Auburn, Ala.). “I needed all the fans and everyone to know that I was really gonna be a Tiger, and I definitely felt like me getting that would show the coaches recruiting me that I was dead serious.”
At least on the latter point.
“They didn’t care,” Foster said of the college coaches recruiting him. “I had a coach tell me ‘that’s just your forearm. It’d be better if you had our logo tatted on your chest. That way it’s closer to your heart.”
Foster and football recruits around the country have come to expect the relentless pursuit from college coaches who typically don’t cut ties until the recruit signs their National Letter of Intent, which can’t happen until Feb. 6, 2013.
“Until then,” said Walton (Marietta, Ga.) running back Tyren Jones, "they’re coming.”
Still, it’s not like the prospective recruits are telling them to stop. The interest is absolutely reciprocated, leaving the door open to the possibility of a commitment switch.
Jones, a senior, has been committed to Alabama since last February, but recently visited Georgia and said he was “probably gonna take three official visits at some point over the next few weeks.”
The operative question is why?
“Just to see everything that’s out there so I can be sure,” Jones said. “I am definitely strong in my decision. I’m just gonna go on a few visits and hear the schools out.”
Jones’ teammate Brandon Kublanow, an offensive lineman who is committed to Georgia, is also entertaining the idea of taking a few official visits to other colleges. His rationale is that he’s put in the work to get to this point; therefore he “should be able to enjoy the process.”
“We’ve worked hard,” Kublanow said. “It’s not that we’re not committed to our schools. The colleges don’t stop so you just hear them out.”
Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.) defensive end Carl Lawson, an Auburn commit, said the only thing that a commitment means is the schools that “missed” on you initially will work twice as hard to steal you away.
“They just use different tactics and they call more after you commit,” Lawson said. “You’d think it would stop, but not with college football. It’s smart to do that because a lot of times guys commit off the hype and the pressure. Then they realize that they’re not 100 percent sure of what they want to do.”
Then and only then is when North Carolina State defensive line coach Keith Willis said a college coach should re-recruit a player.
“When a kid commits, I cross him off the list,” Willis said. “I don’t play that way. I think that’s a little disrespectful to keep coming after a kid who says his commitment is solid. I wait until he reaches out to me personally or through a coach or family member then I’ll confirm it with his high school coach and then we’ll get back in with the kid. That’s the best way to keep things above the board. But the truth is there are only a handful of kids that commit and totally shut other schools down.”
“It sounds crazy,” he said. “But the bottom line is that people change their minds every day.”
Even if they spend $120 on some sick ink?
“Well, I don’t plan on being one of those people,” Foster said. “Check it out; my mom is planning on getting the same tat I got. Now that should convince everybody.”
Jason Jordan is a High School Sports reporter for USA Today. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY