Elite athletes choose schools for a variety of reasons. Some want a chance to win. Some are led or misled by their advisors, family or coaches. Others choose the program they think gives them the best chance at the NFL, the right academic program, the scheme that fits their playing style, or a coach they feel they can relate to. Location narrows the field for many candidates, as do climate, facilities and tradition. Some meet a pretty girl on a recruiting trip. Still others want illegal inducements or a sweetheart deal, like a Gold Trans Am, a 3,000 square foot house in Spring Valley, $185,000 to remodel the church, or $40,000 in memorabilia income.
Recruiting can be a dirty business. It’s part Broadway audition and part cattle auction, and it requires coaches to be everything from father figures to used car salesmen to detectives.
Eddie Goldman, a 6-4, 307 lb. elite defensive tackle from Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington D.C., will inspire one of the most frenetic recruiting battles of the 2012 recruiting season.
(photo at left: Goldman running through testing at a Nike Combine. He has offers from over 50 schools, including Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Florida and Oklahoma. Scout.com photo.)
Line coaches study Goldman’s highlight film and salivate. He’s potentially quicker, more disruptive and explosive than Nick Fairley. There are plays where he simply blows up the line of scrimmage, collapsing the interior of the line like a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury. He’s naturally strong and uncommonly athletic, so much so that he wants to play high school basketball this winter after wrapping up his last prep football season and his college choice. Not just play high school basketball, but play on the wing, away from the basket.
Like every other position coach in D-1 football, Jerry Azzinaro has made the pilgrimage to Friendship Collegiate to introduce himself and try to establish a connection with Goldman, but the fireplug martial artist from the Northeast didn’t make it inside the inner circle. The number one defensive tackle in the country has been coy about his college choice as yet, but a list of his 15 favorite schools doesn’t include the Ducks. Rivals ranks him as a five-star player. ESPN rates him number two in their just-released ESPN 150. The leaders for his services include the usual suspects: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia. Maybe Clemson or Maryland, depending on the day. Goldman has a 3.1 grade average and wants to major in business.
Sadly, a visit to the Warsaw Sports Marketing program or the Lundquist School of Business isn’t in his summer plans. The blue-chip quarterback crusher told rivals.com:
“The biggest thing for me is just how the coaches are,” he explained. “It’s their attitude. You can’t have a negative attitude and be a coach. I’m looking at team morale, too. I want the school to have academics and I want to be a part of a team that can win a championship.”
That sounds like the Ducks, but all of Goldman’s trips and preferences have been for teams in the East and South, closer to home. He’s said he wants a school with good academics and an environment where he feels comforable with the coaches.
Chances are, Goldman will find his perfect fit. He has time and an abundance of opportunities, and he’ll be offered every incentive and assurance in the world. In any season there are just a handful of defensive tackles with elite size and agility, and the demand for their services is among the fiercest in sports. Oregon has six tackles who have talent and are working hard to get better every day. For now, they’ll just have to do. Haloti Ngatas don’t come along every year.