JERIMY FINCH, one of the nation's top defensive back prospects, announced last
spring that he was committing to Michigan. No surprise. Michigan had targeted
the speedy, 6'2", 212-pound safety when he was a freshman at Warren Central
High ( Indianapolis) and had recruited him harder than any other program. But a
few weeks ago Finch turned his back on the Big Ten power and switched to
Indiana, a school that hasn't played in a bowl game since 1993. "We didn't
see that one coming," says Jeremy Crabtree, an analyst at Rivals.com.
Many top prospects
have been changing their minds this year, partly because of the increasingly
intensive recruiting process. Kids are pressured to choose earlier than ever,
and they try to end the bombardment of e-mails, letters, phone calls and text
messages by picking a school. Then a few months later, with the most dogged
schools still pursuing them, the players change their 18-year-old minds. A few
prime examples: QB Nick Fanuzzi (Churchill, San Antonio) jumped from Miami to
Alabama, OL Chris Little (Twiggs County, Jeffersonville, Ga.) left Florida
State for Notre Dame, and DL Sidell Corley (McGill-Toolen, Mobile, Ala.) went
from Florida to undeclared.
Finch has said he
switched to Indiana because it "just felt right." It didn't hurt that
Indiana gave scholarships to three of Finch's Warren Central teammates. The
school had also hired the academic adviser at Warren Central, Marni Mooney—an
IU alum and graduate student—to work with Indiana's athletes. "[Mooney] had
a good rapport with Jerimy," says Warren Central coach Steve Tutsie.
"IU identified what they needed to do to get him and got it done. I told
IU, 'Good for you.'" For now, anyway. Nothing is over until Signing Day on
Feb. 7, and this case may have one final twist: Last weekend, Finch made
another official visit—to Florida.