On Wednesday, Terrence Lewis, the nation's top 2021 outside linebacker prospect and No. 2 player from Florida, tweeted this:
That doesn't seem so strange, especially not on the spectrum of tweets from recruits. There's just one thing: Lewis is committed to Tennessee, and has been for over a month now. Could he be committed to the Ducks, if he so chose? Of course. He's got an offer from Oregon, just like he does from just about every program, as per usual for a five-star prospect, and the Ducks would welcome him with open wings.
This likely sent Volunteer fans' hearts into the Rocky Tops of their throats, while Oregon's hopes took flight. A few hours later, top-10 safety Ahmari Harvey quote-tweeted Lewis with his response, one that caught the eye of Seminole Nation:
It seemed like a major boon for the 'Noles from the Tallahassee native who already plays for Florida High as a Seminole and wears garnet and gold, since his recruitment, at present, looks like a coin flip between the 'Noles and Florida. And it prompted an honest question: if FSU is your dream school, and you hold a committable offer, why not go ahead and make it official? Why is Lewis a Vol commitment, if his dreams are directed to Eugene?
The answer may well be included in a post Harvey retweeted just minutes before he tweeted about his dream school:
This is a very simple but crucially important factor to keep in mind. Harvey may consider Florida State to be his dream school because he grew up down the road from campus; he was also coming of age when the Seminoles were atop the college football world. I can't speak for him. But regardless, the landscape has shifted, even if his dreams have not.
So players like Lewis and Harvey—and every prospect charged with this extremely difficult decision—have to choose based on not just dreams, but reality. They have to reconcile soft, emotional connections to schools with other, hard factors. Which head coaches do they trust to follow through on their recruiting pitches? Which coordinators run systems that best showcase their talents? Which position coaches will best refine their skills? Where will they see the field fastest, and when they do, will they be playing for a contender that commands the national spotlight?
And then for all those questions, these kids are getting feedback from family, friends and coaches as well. So in addition to their own consciences, they need to filter through a cacophony of varied outside perspectives, too.
Sometimes one's dream school lines up with the one that makes the most sense for him. Derwin James committed to FSU when he was a freshman in high school, got his Seminole ink, and never wavered. But at other times, prospects need to weigh their dreams, myriad practicalities, and concerns voiced by those closest to them. Not only is this a momentous decision for these young men: it's a complex one as well.