In a move that should surprise no one based upon recent events, Lakeland (FL) 5-star CB Cormani McClain announced his commitment to Coach Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes just moments ago.
Breaking News: Cormani McClain announces he has committed to The University Of Colorado to play for Coach Deion Sanders. pic.twitter.com/TxzWKgJivS— Carl Reed (@CoachReedLive) January 20, 2023
This recruitment has been a drama, a saga with multiple installments, twists, turns, fakes, outright lies, and more. But, if you’re new here, let me recap everything. Grab a drink, cuz this is a wild ride.
A 6’1” 170lb Cornerback, McClain is as elite as elite gets. He’s the #1 ranked corner in this class, and the #2 overall player in the country. So, obviously, everyone in America wants him on their team. As they should. He’s incredible.
As he approached his announcement date in October, all signs were pointing to McClain following the decades-long pipeline from Polk County, specifically Lakeland Senior HS, to Gainesville to play for Billy Napier’s Gators. But, a strange thing happened: McClain committed to Miami instead!
That commitment had its own shenanigans, as McClain announced so quickly during the ceremony that a recruiting journalist actually had to ask him to reset the table and commit again because the cameras weren’t even ready when he speedily picked Miami the first time. McClain did the reset, picked Miami again, and gave the Canes a big recruiting win over Florida and everybody else in the world of college football.
Or did they?
After his commitment, there was chatter that McClain may not be fully solid in his pick of Miami. Those whispers grew as McClain refused to answer recruiting questions following Lakeland’s State Championship victory. Though he is someone who rarely if ever does interviews, that stuck out as odd for a player who was supposedly going to sign with the school he was committed to mere days later.
Things really took a turn on December 21st. That was the first day of the Early Signing Period, and the day that many committed recruits across the country, including McClain, had signing ceremonies scheduled. The ceremony at Lakeland, headlined by McClain, was scheduled for 10AM. McClain’s mother even tweeted to confirm the time and date of the ceremony.
But things took a turn at 9:36am when McClain’s mother went back on twitter.
FALSE ALARM!!!!— Kaishay (@Kaishay5) December 21, 2022
THERE WILL BE NO SIGNING FOR @CormaniMcClain2 TODAY….
SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE!!!
And with that, the game was afoot. Those whispers surrounding McClain’s commitment status grew to fever pitch, and the wouldn’t quiet over the following days and weeks.
Though McClain had the leverage to dictate his refusal to answer recruiting questions at the FHSAA State Championship game, a curious choice to be sure, he had no such ability at the Under Armour All-American game. And, at that game, live on ESPN2, McClain was asked about his commitment status. And McClain made a statement that, at the time, I said seemed disingenuous, and after the fact can be seen for what it was: an outright lie.
First of all, January 15th isn’t a day you can sign. Sure, a player can sign a Grant-in-aid agreement with any school, and multiple schools at that. But the “sign my national letter of intent/scholarship” window is closed until February 1st. So this January 15th thing is, at best, a bending of the truth. The “Miami” answers....those were lies. And hey, if that’s how he wanted to carry things to conceal his true motive and destination, fine. But, objectively, the statement was not true. So be it.
Things continued to show that, despite his false statements, McClain was indeed moving towards committing to (and signing? with?) Colorado. When the recruiting dead period opened on January 12th, meaning schools could send coaches to visit players again, Miami did what they should have done: they sent THE ENTIRE STAFF to Lakeland HS to meet with McClain in an attempt to shore up his commitment.
Just one problem with his plan however: McClain wasn’t there.
Now, one could argue that McClain didn’t need to be at school if he’s enrolling early to the college of his choice. But, there’s been chatter to indicate he will not be enrolling early, so that’s not a sure scenario either. And, if he’s not enrolling early, that means he’s still a current full-time HS student, so him not being there on a school day, much less when Miami sent THE ENTIRE COACHING STAFF TO MEET WITH HIM, is a big, BIG red flag.
Where was McClain, you ask? Well, according to him, he was in Tampa.
But, according to IG live video taken at the same time, McClain was actually in Boulder, visiting Coach Prime and the Buffaloes.
All of these items can be seen in the tweet below; McClain’s IG post claiming to be in Tampa, and screenshots from the IG live videos of him in Boulder. The third pic is so that you can reference the #7 pendant he always wears to the one he’s wearing in the pics in the CU #7 jersey.
Cormani McClain is seen photographed in Boulder (with his #7 chain on in 2nd photo) while claiming to still be in Tampa, FL— no context miami hurricanes (@nocontextcanes) January 14, 2023
This final couple weeks of recruiting are gonna be interesting pic.twitter.com/CmMTS64rYP
That not enough evidence for you? How about a screenshot from the YouTube page run by Deion Sanders Jr. featuring McClain, wearing a Colorado #7 jersey, on the field in Colorado’s stadium lined up across from Colorado Coach Deion Sanders.
Another image of Five-Star Plus+ Miami CB commit Cormani McClain visiting Colorado surfaced late last night on YouTube and then was quickly deleted.— On3 Recruits (@On3Recruits) January 15, 2023
( : @bestkeeper) pic.twitter.com/VjDcLzZ93w
Yeah, McClain wasn’t in Tampa. So, another lie.
When you put together all of the lies, from refusing to answer questions about his recruitment (not a lie, but a questionable choice, to be sure), to saying he was fully committed to Miami, to in the same interview saying he wasn’t considering any other schools, to intentionally ghosting Miami’s staff on their visit to Lakeland HS, to claiming to be in Tampa but having multiple, independent entities posting pictures and videos of him in Boulder, and you see that things have been trending away from Miami for McClain for a while now.
That leads us to today. After weeks of these shenanigans, lies, misdirections, and games, McClain finally did what his actions were telling us all he was going to do: he committed to Colorado.
Obviously, Deion Sanders has pulled a similar recruiting move in the past by getting #1 overall recruit Travis Hunter to sign with Jackson State, Sanders’ former employer, on National Signing Day in 2022. He backs that up by getting another #1 corner recruit to Colorado in McClain.
For Miami, this is a bitter pill to swallow. You obviously hired Mario Cristobal to win recruiting battles like this. And, for a time, the Canes had done so. But, in the end, McClain will be taking his talents West, not South.
This is also the cost of doing business at the top end of recruiting. There are going to be recruitments like this. Sometimes you’re going to win them. Sometimes you’re going to lose them. But, there’s no such thing as a “must get” player, and Miami can, and will, continue to move forward in the efforts to rebuild and reshape the roster. Would have been nice to have a 5-star corner to help move those efforts forward, but so be it.
And there, my friends, you have it.
Onward we go.