June 19, 2013

Social media can be tricky for top prospects

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Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

In the ever-evolving world of recruiting, social media has added several complex layers. Those layers include a competition to gain followers, an avenue to disseminate news -- and an opportunity to create problems.

With only 140 characters, one must be careful when crafting a message.

The latest controversy came from the computer of Class of 2015 South Carolina commit Arden Key, who was reported to have said in an interview with Palmetto Sports that one major factor for choosing the school was, in part, because academically you had to, "Try to fail."


Key took to his twitter account @_Division1_M3 to clear the confusion by posting that he was misquoted.

The 6-foot-5, 198 pound defensive end from Lithonia (Ga.) Martin Luther King posted, "To everybody that saw the article on yahoo what I said was "The academic part, it's like you have to try to fail," yall taking it the wrong way .... ... what i mean about that is yes you have to work hard in your academics but if there's some areas you need help on then the tutors at USC will bend of backwards to help you out ... ... basically what i am saying USC has a GREAT SUPPORT system."

He later added:

Despite the damage control, his Twitter timeline was filled with negative reaction.

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said that the attempt to grab national attention can come at a cost.

"We have seen kids lose scholarships over what they put out there on social media," he said. "Tweet-and-delete does not help because these kids are high-profile enough that people are going to get the screen shot or the link and it will live forever.

[ MORE: Yahoo! Sports Radio: Elijah Hood at the Five-Star Challenge ]

"The message that gets beaten into their heads is to be careful and that everything that is put out on social media is not just representing you, but also your family."

Farrell believes that the Key situation is unique because the root of the problem was not his mistake but that of others.

There are still examples that like of former Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco and current University of Colorado defensive back Yuri Wright that are often cited.

Wright had his scholarship rescinded by Michigan when he was found to be posting profane subject matter on his Twitter account.

Farrell said that many missteps on social media are accidental.

"A lot of mistakes kids make (happen) because they are kids and they really just don't know better," he said. "Some are trying to be funny and it backfires, some are trying to get more followers but for the most part the mistakes are innocent."

One of the most outspoken prospects on Twitter is Raleigh (N.C.) Leesville Road receiver Braxton Berrios. His @HNYNUT_Berrios handle has more than 4,000 followers and he has posted more than 5,000 tweets.

Among his final schools is the University of Kentucky.

Monday, Berrios tweeted this:

The innocuous hashtag caused an eruption among Wildcats fans because it has become code from head coach Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) account when the program is about to receive a commitment.

After a UK fan pointed out what had happened, Berrios quickly backed off with an, "OH my bad hahah."

That action did not receive the backlash seen by Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic running back and Notre Dame verbal pledge Elijah Hood.


Earlier in June, Hood shot a seven-second Vine video which showed him flushing a recruiting letter from Alabama down a toilet.

His commentary on the video was "Roll Toilet," poking fun at the rally cry of "Roll Tide."

Hood said he meant no harm and that he was surprised at how quickly the fire spread.

"(Alabama fans) blew it up," he said. "It was definitely interesting to see how fast it spread, but honestly I took what I needed to away from it. I mean, I am trying to move on from it."

Hood said the video was meant only as some friendly trash-talk with a friend and not directed at Alabama, but 
his Twitter retraction on@EHood34 appeared less than apologetic.

At the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour in Chicago, Hood maintained his distance from the situation.

"I wouldn't say it was really tough on me," he said. "I mean honestly I was surprised by how much attention it got and how fast it spread.

"Honestly I don't even have a problem with Alabama or any school for that matter. I respect every school. It's a quality institution; it's the greatest football program right now, honestly.

"It was just a joke."

Farrell said that a lot of the issues can be controlled by keeping away from the keyboard.

"I know a lot of these kids will get a lot of retweets when they put out information but they can get sucked into it and cost themselves," Farrell said. "The best way to avoid the headache that comes with announcing your lists socially or commenting on schools socially is to use more proven and trusted sources -- such as Rivals.com -- and keeping the recruiting process off the social media."


It is a lesson Key seems to have learned.

His last tweet on the subject seemed to say as much.

"Not talking to no more new reporters im sticking with my main guys that been with me since day 1."




 

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