JERIMY FINCH, one of the nation's top defensive back prospects, announced lastspring that he was committing to Michigan. No surprise. Michigan had targetedthe speedy, 6'2", 212-pound safety when he was a freshman at Warren CentralHigh (Indianapolis) and had recruited him harder than any other program. But afew weeks ago Finch turned his back on the Big Ten power and switched toIndiana, a school that hasn't played in a bowl game since 1993. "We didn'tsee that one coming," says Jeremy Crabtree, an analyst at Rivals.com.
Many top prospectshave been changing their minds this year, partly because of the increasinglyintensive recruiting process. Kids are pressured to choose earlier than ever,and they try to end the bombardment of e-mails, letters, phone calls and textmessages by picking a school. Then a few months later, with the most doggedschools still pursuing them, the players change their 18-year-old minds. A fewprime examples: QB Nick Fanuzzi (Churchill, San Antonio) jumped from Miami toAlabama, OL Chris Little (Twiggs County, Jeffersonville, Ga.) left FloridaState for Notre Dame, and DL Sidell Corley (McGill-Toolen, Mobile, Ala.) wentfrom Florida to undeclared.
Finch has said heswitched to Indiana because it "just felt right." It didn't hurt thatIndiana gave scholarships to three of Finch's Warren Central teammates. Theschool had also hired the academic adviser at Warren Central, Marni Mooney—anIU alum and graduate student—to work with Indiana's athletes. "[Mooney] hada good rapport with Jerimy," says Warren Central coach Steve Tutsie."IU identified what they needed to do to get him and got it done. I toldIU, 'Good for you.'" For now, anyway. Nothing is over until Signing Day onFeb. 7, and this case may have one final twist: Last weekend, Finch madeanother official visit—to Florida.