Everybody and their mother is reporting that Miami Northwestern defensive tackle Todd Chandler is no longer committed to the University of Miami. But is it true? Or, are we dealing with a recruit's bruised ego and a tiff between a program and a local star?
I spoke to Chandler twice Tuesday on my cell phone during visits to Miramar High and Belen Jesuit -- the two remaining South Florida high school football teams playing for state championships this week in Orlando. My impression of this internet ratings sensation of a story: the 6-foot, 300-pound prospect (considered a four-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout.com) is upset with the Canes because he hasn't heard from them in a while. But is Chandler definitely not headed to Miami anymore? No. And I won't believe it until he signs a scholarship to another school until National Signing Day.
Chandler has been a UM commitment since his junior year. He plays for the one high school in Miami-Dade County the Canes could ill-afford to anger for dropping one of their players. You remember the West, don't you? The school Randy Shannon and his entire staff came to watch in October during the Northwestern-Central nationally televised showdown. The school that sent eight recruits to Miami in 2007.
It simply doesn't make sense for Chandler to get dropped like a bad habit six weeks before National Signing Day. "I switched to USF tonight," Chandler told me by phone at around 9 p.m.
Why? "Coach [Jim] Leavitt said they want me real bad," Chandler said. "They got room for me."
Is it a done deal? Are you finished with the Hurricanes? "I don't know. I'm confused," Chandler said. "I'm still thinking about UCF, Colorado State and Louisville. I still have to talk to my dad and uncle about things, see what they think."
But Todd, what went wrong with Miami? "The way they're acting makes me feel like they aren't recruiting me anymore," he said. "It's been so long, I don't remember how their voice sounds. The last time I spoke to [recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt] was during the football season. The last time I talked to coach Shannon was last year."
But didn't I see you at practice a bunch of times this season? Didn't you hang out at UM all the time? "I was going to practice, but the way they made it seem was like they were playing me," Chandler said. "When I spoke to coach [Wesley] McGriff three weeks ago, I asked him what the deal was, why they were looking at other defensive tackles. He said they were just recruiting."
When asked if UM were to call him tomorrow telling him they wanted him, Chandler said he would have to think about things. "We'll have to see what happens," Chandler said. "At first, I was disappointed. But I know I can go anywhere and become a star. My grades and my test are in order. I can qualify where I want to go."
Chandler said he's still considering UCF, Louisville, Colorado State and Louisville. But my guess is we will still hear a lot about the Canes and Chandler over the next few weeks. I just don't want to be a part of it. I had enough with Bryce Brown last year.
For the record, our recruiting writer Larry Blustein is on board with me in believing all of these Chandler reports make for great reading at internet paysites.
"This is a Miami Northwestern program with 25 Division I recruits," Blustein said. "Why would they ever jeopardize their relationship with a program in their backyard like that? It's not like Chandler is an add on. He's one of the best defensive tackles in the country. I'd be shocked if Randy Shannon just really cut him loose because they are upset about him taking other recruiting visits."
CANES OPEN PRACTICE FRIDAY: I'll be in Orlando this weekend for the state championships, but our Susan Miller Degnan will be out there Friday and Saturday and will provide reports at MiamiHerald.com. UM will practice again Tuesday and Wednesday next week before heading to Orlando on Christmas Day. I'll be arriving in Orlando Dec. 26.