2021 OL Prospect Marcus Mbow Resets Recruitment, 'They Told Me That I Was Done'
John Garcia, Jr.
The college football recruiting class of 2021 has been dealt a short hand compared to most every other class in the modern era thanks to COVID-19 along with the delays and disruption it has caused relative to nearly every element of the process.
Struggles have been well documented but there are some traditional recruiting pitfalls still present with the current senior class.
Plenty of prospects are changing their mind on college programs and certain programs' staff have begun changing their mind on the prospects all the same.
Arizona State has been on both sides of this front of late, entering this week with five less verbal commitments than it stood with in mid October when it carried the No. 19 class in the SI All-American team rankings.
Multiple departures in a short time span trigger industry veterans into the curiosity of structural change from the program perspective, often including commits being "dropped" by the program itself despite having accepted the pledge sometime prior.
After it happened to former Sun Devil commitment and Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee offensive lineman Charles Armstrong, fellow trench commitment and Milwaukee (Wis.) Wauwatosa East prospect Marcus Mbow says he got in touch with the ASU staff to see if he was next.
"(Armstrong) Told me that they dropped him so I texted one of the coaches and asked if I was good and if I was gonna get dropped," Mbow told SIAA. "He said I was good and had nothing to worry about. That was a Friday or Saturday.
"The following Monday they told me that I was done for."
Nearly one month has passed since the recruiting weekend Mbow wouldn't soon forget. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder has additional options, but with the current recruiting climate he's playing catch-up with limited resources.
The offensive tackle drove from Milwaukee to Purdue University over the weekend to get a first-hand view of the campus since he cannot have in-person contact with coaches as part of the NCAA's Dead Period rules. It also meant he had to make the trip on his own dime.
The trip to West Lafayette was "awesome" for Mbow all things considered. He met with some Purdue players and took tours of the campus and the city itself.
"Absolutely love Purdue now," he said.
It won't be that simple for the other programs on his list. Oregon State, West Virginia, Virginia, Kansas and several MAC programs are back in contact with him since he unexpectedly went back on the market. Virtual visits, like the one he took Monday with Oregon State, are becoming common tools in helping select the program to attend.
The time pledged to ASU, per Mbow, wasn't valuable to the end game in his recruitment considering the Early Signing Period begins in less than a month.
"Me being committed to Arizona State was a waste of time, I got off everybody's radar," he said. "I was committed for about three or four months. They just showed me love, a tremendous amount of love and put all this effort and time in. I thought it was by far the best place I could go and be the best person I could be.
"Then things started to change. I feel like they just lied to me in the first place. They know how much I did for them, how much I recruited for them, how much I anticipated Arizona State."
The ASU staff had similar contact with other prospects who are no longer on the commitment list, citing the lack of scholarships for the 2021 season as the primary reason for the changes.
"They said that they didn't have enough spots anymore," he said. "It was obviously not true because they offered other kids at my position in my class."
While committed to the Pac-12 program, Mbow says he rarely connected with some of the 15 or so schools that had offered him a scholarship prior.
Now it's a mad dash towards and unknown finish line before signing a National Letter of Intent. He may not be ready to finalize his plans when prospects are initially able to sign next month.
"I'm not 100% sure of what I'm gonna do," he said. "This is a stressful process for me and I have to do all this learning in a short amount of time with these schools that I've never been to or hadn't thought about previously."
Mbow, who focused primarily on basketball prior to the 2019 season, is an SI All-American candidate coming off of a strong condensed senior season in which he played on the offensive and defensive line. He is confident he remains a Power 5 and/or FBS prospect.
"My strong suit is my athleticism, blocking in space and whatnot," he said. "I love getting out and running, being a lead blocker and showing my speed and feet. I feel like I'm a really good pass protector. In the five games we played I didn't miss a snap or give up a sack.
"My game is still raw since I'm mostly new to football but I need to keep learning about the game and getting better, physically."
A team captain on the basketball court for Wauwatosa East, Mbow will chase a state title as a senior before enrolling at his program of choice in the summer.
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