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Arizona’s Jedd Fisch calls rash of college football decommitments a ‘bad message’ for sport

Wildcats have lost some big recruits recently, but they’ve also swiped ones from other schools

arizona-wildcats-football-recruiting-decommitments-NIL-elijah-rushing-keona-wilhite-oregon-ducks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

College football coaches can’t talk about specific recruits until they’ve officially signed to play for a school, but there are no NCAA rules regarding speaking in generalities.

So while there won’t be any comments from Arizona’s Jedd Fisch anytime soon about the decommitment of 5-star Tucson edge rusher Elijah Rushing, who was in line to be the highest-ranked recruit in program history, that doesn’t mean he can’t voice his displeasure in losing Rushing (and other recent decommits) while opining about the state of recruiting in college football.

“For some reason, commitments in football don’t mean nearly the same as commitments in college basketball and college baseball and college soccer, which is a bad thing,” Fisch said Thursday, during his final press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at No. 19 Washington State. “You talk to these other head coaches of other sports, and they all say verbal commitments means all the other end coaches stop recruiting. In football a verbal commit means all the other head coaches start recruiting harder.”

Rushing, who plays just up the road from the UA at Salpointe Catholic High School, backed off his pledge Sunday night. In his decommitment announcement he took shots at his hometown program, saying it wasn’t the best place for his development to someday play in the NFL.

The decommitment came less than 48 hours after Oregon defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi was on the sidelines for Salpointe’s home game against Tempe Corona del Sol. He was no doubt in attendance to watch Rushing, who took an official visit to Oregon in June, but also 3-star Salpointe defensive lineman Keona Wilhite, who also decommitted from Arizona this month.

At least 20 recruits have decommitted from FBS programs since the beginning of October, according to 247Sports’ tracking of public recruiting announcements.

“It’s a bad message, I believe, for really the game and for their lives,” Fisch said. “What type of commitments you make, commitments don’t matter. Might as well not commit and then sign on signing day where you’re gonna go to school.”

While he didn’t cite reasons for why players decommit, he did point to comments recently made by Kentucky coach Mark Stoops—a former UA assistant—that two-time defending champ Georgia “bought some pretty good players” via NIL. Georgia had just crushed previously unbeaten Kentucky 51-13.

“I think I heard Coach Stoops say it pretty well the other day,” Fisch said.

Arizona’s 2024 recruiting class currently has 21 known commitments and is ranked 44th in the nation by 247Sports. The Wildcats have had five prospects decommit in the cycle, with three since picking new schools, while at least four of their 21 pledges had previously been committed elsewhere.

4-star in-state quarterback Demond Williams had previously committed to Ole Miss, while 3-star Las Vegas receiver Landon Bell flipped from Washington and last Friday the UA landed a pair of recent San Diego State decommits.

And don’t forget: the current highest-rated recruit in school history, Tetairoa McMillan, was committed to Oregon all the way up until signing with the Wildcats on the final day of the early signing period in December 2021.

“I believe that we have a situation with the commitments that go on across the country now, it’s happening everywhere,” Fisch said. “Guys are transferring and guys are decommitting. So until we get this more under control, as a college football ... infrastructure ... this is not going to end. So we just keep recruiting. We recruit the guys that want to be here and recruit the players that want to be part of this program. We don’t stop recruiting somebody if they do decommit, and we don’t stop recruiting people that do commit. And when we get to signing day then we’ll find out who’s actually on the team.”