The world of recruiting can be a cold one sometimes. Just ask Damari Roberson.
Roberson is a three-star wide receiver from Michigan who committed to Western Michigan last month. Before that, he had his sights set on Northwestern, who offered him in March and were strongly pursuing Roberson.
That was until Roberson tore the ACL in his left knee for the second time in a year.
Coach: Northwestern pulled Roberson’s offer after second injury
Even though Roberson hurt his knee during his junior year, he was still garnering plenty of college interest. Northwestern, along with a few other Big Ten programs, joined the fold earlier this year while Roberson was working his way through his rehab regimen. Mona Shores High School coach Matt Koziak told MLive.com that Wildcats receivers coach Dennis Springer visited Roberson three times and was pushing for a commitment.
But things changed when Roberson tore the ACL again.
Roberson, Koziak said, wanted to commit to Northwestern, but the staff would not accept his commitment after learning of the second ACL tear. Had he pledged to the Wildcats before the re-tear, his commitment would have been honored.
Koziak explains, via MLive.com:
“He wanted to commit to Northwestern, however he wanted to be up front with the coach. He said, ‘Coach, I want to commit, but I’ve got to be honest with you, I tore my ACL again,'” Koziak shared about the exchange between Roberson and Northwestern receivers coach Dennis Springer.
“And Northwestern was like, ‘We can’t take your commitment.’ So I’m texting the coaches and I said, ‘What if he would have committed to you guys before he tore his ACL – would you have honored his commitment?’ (They responded) ‘Absolutely, 100 percent, if he would have committed (before telling them about the ACL injury).’
The experience has left a bad taste in the mouths of both player and coach, with Koziak saying he doesn’t want Northwestern to recruit any of his players moving forward.
“Northwestern is no longer allowed in our building. They’re not allowed, at least to me, to recruit our kids. They are no longer welcome in our building,” he said.
Roberson’s experience shows the vast gray area of recruiting
The situation is a tough one on both sides. Obviously, you feel terrible for the kid — but Northwestern’s side of the equation is understandable, too.
There’s a ton of gray area with verbal offers and commitments, but recruiting is a numbers game first and foremost. With a team capped at 85 scholarships, there are only so many spots available in a recruiting class, and a staff is tasked with finding the best players to win football games. In order to garner more than a dozen FBS offers like Roberson, you have to have some substantial talent. But two serious injuries in such a short time frame would make Roberson’s status for his freshman year up in the air. Beyond that, it could affect his career as a whole. Another injury could spell the end.
Does Northwestern want to take that chance when it could recruit a player without a serious injury history? Clearly not. It’s a cruel thing, but it happens in various forms all over the country — you just don’t always hear about it.
Northwestern wasn’t the only school to back off recruiting Roberson either, according to Koziak. He said the other Big Ten programs involved in Roberson’s recruitment — he also held offers from Indiana, iowa, Purdue and Minnesota, according to Rivals.com — pulled their offers, as well. Northwestern is the school catching the shrapnel here because it was Roberson’s favorite.
And let’s not forget: there’s a happy ending here. Roberson has a full-ride to Western Michigan, one of the top programs in the MAC. He has the chance to prove that Northwestern made a big mistake by not bringing him in.
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