Four-star receiver TJ Sheffield says Notre Dame backed out of honoring his verbal commitment five days after accepting it. Sheffield’s full explanation:
The Independence (Tenn.) receiver committed to the Irish on July 6. He says he called Notre Dame receivers coach Del Alexander that day, and Alexander congratulated him and said he looked forward to coaching him. In the middle of the next week, according to Sheffield, Alexander called him and said Notre Dame “was not going to honor” the commitment.
If that’s the full story, it’s lousy behavior on Notre Dame’s part.
Commitments get backed out of all the time, initiated by both players and coaches. There’s nothing wrong with a player finding a better college option and taking advantage of it. And there’s not automatically anything wrong with a coaching staff rescinding a scholarship offer. But what Sheffield says the Irish did here is worse than most stories of this kind.
- There’s no coaching change involved here. It’s common for a new staff not to honor every commitment to an old staff. It stinks when that happens, but given how closely players and coaches have to work together, it can be for the best. Hopefully players are able to find other teams, given that these things usually go down not long before Signing Day.
- In this case, just five days passed between Sheffield’s commitment and Notre Dame reportedly deciding not to honor it. That’s a quick change of heart in any relationship, and it suggests — if the Irish did what Sheffield says — that they didn’t have their house in order.
Sheffield is a good prospect, and he should be able to find another home.
He’s the class of 2019’s No. 38 receiver prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite. He was previously a verbal commit to Tennessee. He claims more than a dozen offers already, and the split with Notre Dame came five months ahead of the December signing period that will see most programs lock in the majority of their classes.
An evergreen caveat to stories like this: There could be more to it.
Notre Dame would be committing an NCAA violation if it talked publicly and specifically about Sheffield’s recruitment, so the player’s word stands pretty much on its own for now. There are a million reasons that either player or school might back away from one another.
But it’s hard to come up with a way that turning away from a player five days after taking his commitment would reflect well on Brian Kelly or his staff.