One of the big commitments during the Under Armour All-America game on Saturday in Orlando will be that of Beaumont Central running back Devwah Whaley.
Set to choose between the Texas Longhorns, Georgia Bulldogs, and Arkansas Razorbacks, Whaley's decision might not necessarily be final, as Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and his new offensive staff are set to make an in-home visit after the dead period ends. Since the recent production at running back in Athens continues to be a legitimate appeal for Whaley, the ability of that new staff to sell him on the offense's direction could be a significant factor as National Signing Day approaches.
And if Smart takes a page out of mentor Nick Saban's handbook, it will be a pro-style offense that features a downhill rushing attack to feature the talent already on campus.
However, the Bulldogs can't offer nearly as much immediate playing time as the Razorbacks. Star running back Nick Cobb will be a junior in his return from the knee injury that ended his strong start to the 2015 campaign, but former five-star prospect Sony Michel filled in plenty well for Chubb in rushing for 1,076 yards. There's also a pledge from the No. 5 running back in 2016, Elijah Holyfield, a player Whaley was planning on teaming with in the first place, so in light of that, there's already evidence that the depth chart isn't everything to him.
If it comes down to depth charts, Arkansas may have the most appealing situation for Whaley. There's a solid chance that junior Alex Collins declares for the NFL Draft and promising 2015 signee Rawleigh Williams III suffered an ugly neck injury as a freshman. He's expected to fully recover, but it's possible that he's never able to fulfill his significant potential.
There's only one experienced player behind Collins and Williams III in senior Kody Walker, but the possibility of both Collins and Williams III returning does complicate the equation a bit and add some uncertainty to the depth chart in Fayetteville.
Interestingly enough, Rivals national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell mentioned during the interview that Texas needs playmakers at the running back position. Since junior D'Onta Foreman and sophomore Chris Warren combined for two of the school's five runs of more than 90 yards in 2015, that statement doesn't seem entirely accurate. Even sophomore Kirk Johnson broke off a 32-yard run among his eight carries before an ankle injury ended his season.
So the Longhorns don't desperately need playmakers at the position -- the staff merely wants to continue stockpiling playmakers at running back. Regardless of roster management, a player like Whaley should always have a spot in any Texas recruiting class, he's just more of a luxury take for the Horns in this cycle.
Add it all together and there are some intriguing moving parts on Whaley's recruitment, even from the Texas side -- he went to high school with sophomore safety PJ Locke and is close friends with 2016 wide receiver pledge Davion Curtis, creating there are some ties that could help keep him in state.
Of course, things aren't that simple, as Whaley said that the pressure to remain in the Lone Star State decreased throughout his recruitment, even as it has remained a primary selling point for the Texas staff.
And he also said that early playing time isn't necessarily as much of a factor as being able to come in and compete for the job -- offering that chance to compete is a pretty low bar for a coaching staff to hurdle and something that most should be able to achieve with sincerity.
Ultimately, even though Whaley's recruitment will add another important chapter on Saturday with his second commitment, that decision doesn't feel like it will be the final chapter, especially with an official visit to Texas looming in January regardless of his choice in Orlando.
The good news for the Longhorns is that even without that visit having taken place yet, 12 of the last 14 predictions in Whaley's 247Sports Crystal Ball are in favor of Texas, so that official visit may merely solidify a pledge already made.