The Hurry-Up: Mark Pantoni Hopes to “Restrict“ Number of Offers Allowed, Which Some High School Coaches Believe Are “Fake Offers”

By Zack Carpenter on April 7, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Mark Pantoni
Mark Pantoni

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Limiting offers

When we dropped this nugget from Rivals' Blair Sanderson back in February, it helped give an idea of how the recruiting world has changed offer-wise, as the number of offers dished out continues reaching absurd levels:

If you don't offer a player early in the process, unless it's a powerhouse like Clemson or Ohio State, the odds of coaches being able to develop relationships with and ultimately land that player obviously go down.

But the number of offers being handed out each year remains astronomically high for many programs, and it's one of the issues that Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni discussed in a Friday morning conference call with reporters.

Over the last several years, Pantoni has become one of the most respected voices in the recruiting world. When asked if he sees any concerns that he has that he hopes will be addressed during this time of uncertainty, Pantoni addressed an issue that has been ongoing long before the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent recruiting moratorium. 

“The biggest thing – and I don’t know what the solutions are and I’ve had some thoughts and had a lot of talks with colleagues about this – is how to get a number of these quote-unquote ‘offers’ that are thrown out kind of like candy nationwide, how do we slow this down? How do we restrict it and make it more real?,” Pantoni said. “Schools are offering over 300 kids to one class, and it just becomes a game on both sides. The schools are doing it and the kids are doing it to put it on social media.

“Finding a way to make things more realistic and not offering eighth-graders for publicity (is something that needs to be addressed). Like I said, I don’t know what the solution is, but I have some thoughts. That would be one thing to try to get sorted out.”

“Fake offers”

One of the reasons we are highlighting Pantoni's views on the number of offers that are getting out of hand is because his thoughts are shared by many high school coaches across the country.

Out of all the coaches who we've spoken with, Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) High School head coach Matt DuBuc – the coach of Buckeye receiver target Troy Stellato – had some of the most honest, candid thoughts about the high number of offers being given by programs across the nation, bringing the subject up unprompted during a February interview with Eleven Warriors.

“The biggest thing ... is how to get a number of these quote-unquote ‘offers’ that are thrown out kind of like candy nationwide, how do we slow this down?”– Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni

“I don’t get into the fake offer game. I don’t do that,” DuBuc said. “I’ll have all these kids that want the fake offers and want me to tell them how great they are. I’ll tell every coach, here’s the deal – this guy can play. He’s a great player, he’s got good grades, his transcript is good. Evaluate his tape, take it back to the coordinator and after you guys have watched it, let me know what you think. If you wanna offer a kid, great. Let’s do it. But don’t come to my school and say, we’ll offer eight guys and you haven’t even seen film. I don’t do that.”

Southern Miss is a prime example that many point to as a program that exacerbates this issue. According to lists complied by Hero Sports' Andrew Doughty, Southern Miss offered 503 players in the 2019 recruiting class and gave out 510 offers in the 2020 class, the most offers given in each class.

There are several coaches who believe schools such as Southern Miss, Syracuse, Nebraska, etc., are offering players only for the free advertisement – for a player to announce on Twitter or Instagram that he's received a scholarship offer from a school in order for that program's logo to flash across the screen and a tiny bit of publicity to come that program's way.

Those sorts of things are what Pantoni is wanting to address, and plenty of high school coaches would be in support of that.

“I get it, but I’m not gonna sit here and tell people you have to offer our kids,” DuBuc said. “You offer them when you wanna offer them, and if they’re legitimate offers, then we’ll promote that.”

Top list coming for Grimes

The nation's No. 1 cornerback and No. 7 overall player in the 2021 class, Tony Grimes, will not be committing to a school for a long time, but Virginia's 6-foot, 180-pound standout will soon be making things slightly more clear in his recruitment.

Grimes announced he will be cutting down his list to eight schools on Wednesday to celebrate his and his brother's birthday.

Ohio State has lost momentum for Grimes in recent weeks, and much of that is tied in with the fact that Kerry Coombs and Co. are unable to get the Princess Anne (Va.) High School star on campus for the three-to-four-day visit his father told us they were planning on taking in March or April.

Grimes has set a commitment date of Dec. 1, and thus far he has not wavered on that far-off date despite the uncertainties and unknowns in the recruiting world right now. The Buckeyes are on the outside looking in as of right now, but they are not out of the race completely.

Ohio State will presumably be on that final list, in addition to Clemson, Georgia, Penn State, Texas A&M, North Carolina and two others, but we'll find out on Wednesday.

McCutchin cuts list

The slew of trimmed lists for prospects during all of this continued on Monday night, as former Alabama commit Latrell McCutchin announced a top-10 list of Ohio State, Alabama, USC, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Florida State and Virginia Tech.

McCutchin, the 10th-ranked cornerback and 98th-ranked overall player in the 2021 class, had been committed to Alabama since June but decommitted on March 1. 

McCutchin was one of the many players the Buckeyes offered during their flurry of offers in mid-September.

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