BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Sometimes the best recruiters aren't the coaches but the commits themselves.
Whereas college coaches are held to strict guidelines of when and how often they can talk to a prospect, commits are free to call, text and send messages through social networking outlets as much as they like.
And when several of the nation's top committed prospects are in the same place with many of the nation's top uncommitted prospects, like they are this week at The Opening, it's safe to expect plenty more contact and recruiting.
"Zach Kline is always talking to me about Cal," said Everett (Wash.) Mariner running back KeiVarae Russell. "He watches my film, and he just wants me to go there and be on the same team with him. He says the coaches talk with him about me all the time."
We have the opportunity to be around 100 to 150 of the best in the nation, and I want to get some of them to come to the U. I tell them what made me choose Miami, and hopefully they will want to take a look for themselves. It never hurts to ask. If someone isn't interested, I understand. Everyone has to make their own decisions.
”-- Miami commit Keith Brown
Miami Norland linebacker Keith Brown is one of several Miami commitments at The Opening this week, and he says recruiting future teammates is part of a commit's job.
"We have the opportunity to be around 100 to 150 of the best in the nation, and I want to get some of them to come to the U," Brown said. "I tell them what made me choose Miami, and hopefully they will want to take a look for themselves.
"It never hurts to ask. If someone isn't interested, I understand. Everyone has to make their own decisions."
Sometimes a commit is in a tough situation, such as Canton (Ohio) Oakglen running back Bri'onte Dunn. He is committed to Ohio State, but with the possibility of NCAA sanctions looming, he's admitted to keeping his options open while waiting for a verdict.
And that's just enough for several committed prospects from rival schools to get in his ear.
"Some of the guys from Michigan are just telling me I need to switch," Dunn said. "And Se'Von Pittman, one of the other guys from Canton, he's going to Michigan State and he tells me a little about MSU."
Location also can be a factor. Many of the players from each region are already familiar with each other and have visited many of the same schools.
"A lot of the players from the Southeast haven't really talked to me because I guess they think I'm too far," Russell said.
However, Notre Dame is in Russell's top three, and the six Notre Dame commits have definitely taken notice.
"The Notre Dame recruits are coming at me pretty hard," Russell joked. "They are coming from all directions really. They are definitely getting some athletes."
One of the biggest targets at The Opening, literally and figuratively, is 6-foot-8, 310-pound Zach Banner, a four-star offensive lineman from Puyallup (Wash.) High School.
Everybody who's committed has talked to me. You've got the Michigan commits and the Notre Dame commits and the Oklahoma commits; you got the Texas commits. There are so many of them here.
”-- Four-star undecided OL Zach Banner
He says he and teammate Joshua Garnett have been listening to recruiting pitches since they arrived in Oregon.
"Everybody who's committed has talked to me," Banner said. "You've got the Michigan commits and the Notre Dame commits and the Oklahoma commits; you got the Texas commits. There are so many of them here."
Banner isn't bothered by the attention, though. He understands each commit is working to help his respective program get better.
"When you think about it, it's smart because they are already committed and they are trying to make their class better," Banner said. "Listening to them talk to us, they understand we aren't committing until January and they are hoping we will take a visit."
Banner says the communication with other commits probably won't affect his final decision but it might give him reason to research a school he wasn't previously considering.
"I listen but I'm not going to base everything off of someone's perspective," Banner said. "However, I was talking with one of the linemen about Clemson, and he's saying some good things. I hadn't really thought about Clemson before I talked with him.
"And other schools like Texas and Wisconsin, schools I haven't looked at before, and I might at least read up on them."
Not everyone is being recruited by players at The Opening. Some, such as Flint (Mich.) L.M. Powers DT Dan O'Brien, communicate with current college players.
"[Tennessee signee] DeAnthony Arnett has called me a couple of times because we've been friends for a while," O'Brien said. "I also hear from some former players from Michigan and some current guys, too.
"I like the angle from the player's standpoint, even though they aren't going to say anything bad about the program. Still, you get a different perspective on what they experience and what they go through every day."
Florida commit Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) admits to bringing a list of players he'll talk with about the Gators.
"I've been talking to Dillon Lee, Marcus Maye, Kwon Alexander, Johnathan Gray and Trey Williams," Davis said. "Some of them are already committed but I know they might want to take some visits and I'm going to try to direct them to Gainesville."
Davis knows his efforts might not amount to much, but if he can convince just one player to join him, it will be well worth the effort.
"I want them to know why I like Florida and maybe they should check it out and see what they think," Davis said. "Some of them might join me, and the ones that don't will make the best decision for them ... but they will probably wish they had joined me."
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at email@example.com.