Over the next week, college football fans will refresh their Twitter timelines and be on the lookout for any recruiting news during the countdown to National Signing Day.
Whether it’s a player announcing a commitment or just narrowing his list to his final schools, Twitter is often the go-to place to let the world know what you’re thinking as a recruit.
But social media plays a big factor in recruiting in many other ways as well.
Coaching staffs keep up with the prospects they’re after on social media, fans tweet at recruits to try to sway them to their school and some players even play with the emotions of fans on social media.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to separate recruiting from social media in today’s world.
“If recruits tell you that it doesn’t play some sort of role, they’re probably lying,” five-star defensive back Kristian Fulton said to ESPN’s Jeremy Crabtree. “For me, it’s not going to be a big thing I’m making my decision on, but I’ve learned a lot about the different programs from fans on Twitter.”
Unfortunately, fan engagement with recruits on Twitter often goes off the deep end.
There are fans that attack a prospect after he decommits from a school and rival fanbases that are trying to put down the school he’s committed to.
It’s a daily occurrence for the top prospects, and it often keeps guys off social media altogether.
“People can twist your words,” four-star LSU offensive tackle commit Willie Allen said to ESPN. “It really takes a lot of time out of your day.”
“I stay off it because my mom doesn’t allow me to go on it,” five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary said to ESPN.
But sometimes staying away doesn’t do any good.
Fans create fake accounts. They still blast players even when there’s no account to tag in a post. Four-star Florida defensive tackle commit Shavar Manuel knows that firsthand.
“Somebody actually made a fake Twitter account for me,” Manuel said to ESPN. “It blew up. It had like 25,000 followers in one day.”
But with more and more college coaches using social media to connect with players, it becomes important for prospects to use it.
Four-star defensive tackle Michail Carter told Crabtree he only uses social media to keep in touch with coaches, and he’s not alone.
“In this world, it is important, so you have to use it,” four-star Florida wide receiver commit Joshua Hammond told Crabtree. “I use social media a lot for recruiting things and stuff like that, but not really for my personal use. It’s not my cup of tea.”
It comes with the territory in today’s college football recruiting.
There will be crazy fans that cross the line, fans that use social media to show enthusiasm for their team and many more that come somewhere in between.
But social media in recruiting is here to stay, and it will undoubtedly show the good and the bad of its existence over the next few days.