OXFORD, Miss. --
When Holliman's South Florida Express teammates looked at the lid and saw the Ole Miss logo on the front and the words "Hotty Toddy" written on the bill, they murmured. Did the safety from Miami's Southridge High commit to Ole Miss while the team visited the school? And if he did, to whom did he commit?
So had Holliman offered a verbal commitment to the Rebels? Had he accepted a verbal scholarship offer -- thanks to a new NCAA rule, schools can't issue written offers until Aug. 1 of a prospect's senior year -- to Ole Miss?
Yes and no.
That the answer is complicated shouldn't surprise anyone who follows college football recruiting. A daily reading of the content posted on Rivals.com contains more references to commitment than a year's subscription to
College coaches often whine about the lack of actual commitment by their verbal commitments, but their complaints ring hollow when they yank scholarship offers because another player became interested in their school or when they hand out 200 scholarship offers for a 25-man class. It's easy to blame the 17-year-olds for failing to honor their word, but the 45-year-olds are equally at fault in this case.
So how exactly would one have classified Holliman and Southridge (and Express) teammate
Holliman and Johnson decided to reveal their decision to the world in the moments after the Express won the BadgerSport Elite 7-on-7 National Championship on Sunday. They approached a Rivals.com reporter and told him of their choice. Within minutes, the news was on the Web. By the time the team gathered at a Tuscaloosa buffet for a celebratory lunch, a reporter from Scout.com had reached the players. Holliman and Johnson passed the phone back and forth while their teammates offered high-fives.
Holliman and Johnson also called and left messages with Vaughn. Because NCAA rules forbade Vaughn from calling the players, he sent them private messages on Facebook congratulating them and welcoming them to the Ole Miss family. (NCAA rules allow coaches to send unlimited e-mails. Private Facebook messages are viewed as e-mails. Wall posts and comments under photos and status updates are not -- a fact the Rebels' Vaughn
Johnson said Vaughn's message wasn't the only one he received. Coaches from Louisville and West Virginia sent along word that they intend to keep recruiting both players. So how will the players respond to courting now that they're committed?
Ole Miss coaches should hope Holliman and Johnson treat other suitors the same way Miami Northwestern quarterback
Plantation High linebacker
Whether that degree is from USC remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether Johnson and Holliman will sign with Ole Miss on Feb. 2. Commitments don't always last as long as they used to, and the players know it.
"It's a verbal commitment," Johnson said. "I'm still open to every other school. I just like Ole Miss better right now."