UTC football recruiting proves Twitter silence can be golden

Staff file photo by C.B. Schmelter / UTC coach Rusty Wright, who has been in charge of his alma mater's football program since December 2018, has learned that having athletes take a careful approach to making recruiting announcements on social media can keep higher-level schools from poaching prospects before signing day.

In a Jan. 7 post on his Twitter account, Javin Whatley, a senior football player at Rockmart High School in Georgia, announced his intent to "continue his athletics and education" at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Although he did not specifically say he had committed to the Mocs, Whatley's full text read similar to countless social media posts made by athletes to reveal their plans to join a college program - whether by transferring from another college or signing from the prep level - by making what the NCAA refers to as a "verbal commitment." In contrast to officially signing with a program, such commitments are nonbinding, and in the world of recruiting, players sometimes make multiple commitments - and decommitments - before being bound to a specific school by official documents.