Thanks for the comments! I do strongly believe that there is opportunity out there and that everything can work out relatively fine in many instances but that can take a very concerted and informed effort from players and parents alike, plus the willingness, as hard as it may be at times, to shift gears when the time comes or to pull the trigger when opportunity knocks. Just today, a player who I'm tutoring may have missed the boat on a legitimate Division I opportunity; he was contacted by the HC a few weeks ago after two showcase events which the HC had seen the player perform at. The HC wanted the player to schedule a campus visit almost immediately but the player (despite my counsel to get his tail on campus before the ship sailed) declined as he had a few other exposure events on the horizon and wanted to pursue these first and not disrupt his schedule too much; he asked the HC if he could plan a visit in a few weeks, and the coach agreed (it seemed). The player eventually scheduled the visit and, just a day before that visit, the HC contacted him to advise that two other players had just committed, and that no scholarship money was currently available---if he wished, the player could come to the school as a walk-on next year and battle for scholarship money later. Was a scholarship offer guaranteed if the player scheduled the visit a few weeks earlier as the HC requested? We'll never know for sure, but the ship has sailed and, unless you are truly a top recruit, you may want to seriously consider jumping on an opportunity when the door is open (even a crack).
I would never tell a player to sign on the dotted line if he wasn't excited about an opportunity; the college-selection factors that are important, maybe vital, to him and his family should be satisfied of course, at least nominally. But this example illustrates the uncertainty and lightning fast swiftness of the recruiting process; an opportunity here today can easily be gone tomorrow. And, as much as you want to be loved, some coaches want to be loved too. Again, I'm not talking about the elite prospects, they have choices, but I am talking about the rest of us mortals. I say to players all the time "if you tell me that you have a Top Ten list of schools that you are pursuing, then you are telling me that you have ten #1 choices, and you better be prepared to get the deal done when any one of them comes calling" or risk the opportunity passing you by, maybe forever. I'm a pretty conservative guy, not a gambler; if a family wants to roll the dice, it is up to them but there is a huge talent pool out there and they aren't making any more college baseball programs---supply and demand, and coaches are in the driver's seat for the most part, don't ever forget that.
My son Chris had a number of offers (thanks in part to his participation at several major Perfect Game events during the first two years of his high school career) at the beginning of summer 2002 (summer just after his junior year of high school). One of those offers, from a top program (ACC), was very substantial, and we were told, unequivocally, that he had until November to decide (and we were reminded of that again and again throughout the summer). Come early fall however, the coach, arbitrarily and without warning, pulled the offer from under us, no recourse on our part whatsoever, and simply indicated that, due to Chris' growing MLB draft status, he couldn't afford to waste a scholarship on him (we immediately canceled an official visit to Louisiana State, and committed to Florida State that evening). If this stuff can happen to the #5 draft pick in the nation, it can happen to anyone.
Possibly my all-time favorite recruiting "horror" story...a player I was working with a couple years ago had signed up for a regional showcase, an event that I highly recommended to him. The showcase was on a Sunday. On Monday, he received an email from a Division I HC indicating that the coach had seen him perform the day before, liked what he saw so far, thought the player could be a fit for his program, and invited the player to his upcoming showcase camp, the camp scheduled just before the next NCAA Quiet Period; on paper, not only did the coach sound very genuine about his interest in the player but it even seemed like he was doing the player a favor ("I really like what I see so far but I need to evaluate you again and I won't be able to after next week" or something to that effect). Only one glaring problem...the player who had signed up, registered, and paid for that Sunday showcase NEVER ATTENDED the event, he committed to a college several days earlier and decided not to participate in the event. He wasn't there!!! So, what did this coach seem to do? Get the showcase roster, send out a bunch of emails, and, very likely, most players wouldn't know any better, instant camp rosters! The dad that this happened to said to me "Wally, you have to use this example when you are working with folks, this sums up what the recruiting process can really be like, and families better be prepared!!!"
Buckle up for the ride, it can get pretty bumpy...but, believe it or not, you can take more control of the recruiting process, and get to the finish line knowing that you did everything you could, and were likely smarter about it than many others. The saddest words I hear from families are "Wally, why didn't anyone tell us all of about this stuff a lot sooner?"