Read the full transcript here:
Kaitlin O'Toole: Caleb Williams is the top quarterback prospect in the 2021 class with scholarship offers from elite programs coast to coast. He's opening up exclusively with Sports Illustrated on the highs and lows that go along with being the top recruit. Joining me now is John Garcia. John, Caleb has faced a lot of challenges with social media as people are creating pseudo accounts. What kind of impact can these accounts have with college football recruiting?
John Garcia: Yeah. You know, it's really a slippery slope, Kaitlin. These kids dream of playing for top schools across the country. So any contact of any kind really ignites something in them and usually makes them follow up. Yet typically it comes from fake coaching accounts. Caleb Williams had a fake Caleb Williams account on Sunday, not only be created in basically his same bio, username, and header, but they actually announced that Caleb was set to commit Sunday evening between his final three of LSU, Oklahoma, and Maryland and that obviously wasn't the case. Caleb was really sort of blindsided by this. He'd have people make their profile picture his face or something like that, but never somebody trying to be him on Twitter. It's a fairly new thing but, unfortunately, that's the day and age we live in. You have to fact check as much as possible, even on your own account. It's kind of sad, but it's going to get him verified at some point, so there is some light there at the end of the tunnel.
Kaitlin O'Toole: As you said, some people were really excited to hear that he was potentially committing to a school. He's got over 2 million impressions. That's a huge following for a high school athlete.
John Garcia: Absolutely. And like you said, he's the number one quarterback in the country. He's uncommitted and this is really the time of year typically where those guys come off the board. So Oklahoma fans, LSU fans, and the local fans at Maryland are absolutely alerting him. Anything he puts out there is consumed immediately. It's one of the reasons why that blog's been such a success. And he's really taken it and ran with it. Those two million impressions were from like two different tweets and that's it. So over the stretch of ten blogs that we've done, it's been a lot more than that. Everybody wants a piece of Caleb Williams at this point. With name and image and likeness legislation going on, this is only going to continue in that direction. So, if you're the number one quarterback, you've got to sort of have your guard up because everything you say and do is magnified more than it ever has been.
Kaitlin O'Toole: So you kind of just briefly touched on this, but obviously we're turning more and more to social media, especially during this pandemic. Is this going to be a problem for future classes or is this just something Caleb Williams is going through, maybe they'll figure it out?
John Garcia: Yeah, I think this is something, unfortunately, that we're going to see people try to copy and replicate. This is something that made an impact. I think the tweet, which has since been deleted, thankfully, had close to 400 likes in a matter of 30 minutes. So, this stuff can really catch on like wildfire. We see it in different areas in sports, but not to this point in the recruiting scene and from a kid's perspective. So, unfortunately, that stuff I do think is going to continue, and you got to have your guard up more than ever on any angle of the recruiting industry. And it's sad. But again, it's 2020 and people have time on their hands right now so I don't think this goes away.