In college football, recruiting has become a season of its own.
This is most apparent in the SEC.
Fans cling to every word that a 17- or 18-year-old high school student says regarding a visit to a school and hope he chooses to attend their university to play football.
Take last Friday for example.
Brian Kimbrough, a speedy, undersized running back from Memphis regarded as the best or at least one of the top prospects in Tennessee this year, verbally committed to Vanderbilt along with two other in-state players.
On various message boards and sports radio shows, Commodore and Volunteer fans went back and forth trash-talking.
While it's interesting that one of the most highly-ranked running backs — not just in Tennessee, but in the country — announced his intentions to play for the SEC's only private school, it doesn't signal that the Commodores will be playing in the SEC Championship Game, or even a bowl game for that matter, anytime soon.
Recruits can't sign their national letter of intent to officially "commit" to a school until next February — unless they graduate from high school a semester early and enroll in college for the Spring Semester.
This means Kimbrough and every other high school senior can change his mind after a visit to another school, a coaching change or any number of other reasons, for the next seven months.
This is one of the reasons why Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and his staff aren't making as big a splash in recruiting as other schools. Dooley has stated on numerous occasions that his philosophy involves a much more thorough evaluation of prospects than most other coaches. And he does this for a reason.
Verbal commitments in July aren't a big deal.
Currently, Tennessee has three public, verbal commitments — running back Imani Cross, wide receiver Corey Smith and linebacker Khalid Henderson. By comparison, Alabama, Florida and Georgia all have at least 10 public commitments right now.
Yet, while UT's three biggest rivals in football are all picking up commitments left and right, it doesn't mean they will be ahead of the Vols in the over-analyzed final recruiting rankings in February. After all, they don't give out a national championship for recruiting. But if they did, it would be the first — and maybe only — title Lane Kiffin has a chance to win.
Look at Kiffin's lone recruiting class at UT. His 2009 class was regarded as one of the top in the country, especially given the short time he and his staff had to recruit players to Knoxville.
It was an impressive haul on paper. That class consisted of 22 signees. At least 10 of those signees are no longer on UT's team.
Players such as Bryce Brown, Janzen Jackson and Nu'Keese Richardson weren't even on the Vols' recruiting radar until after Kiffin arrived.
Likewise, this past year, Dooley and his staff managed to sway offensive guard Marcus Jackson from Miami, defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt from Florida and running back Marlin Lane from Clemson before signing day. All three had previously committed to a school, but later "de-committed" and ultimately signed with the Vols.
Like those three and countless others across the country, expect Kimbrough to "de-commit" from Vandy and sign elsewhere.
Whether a "big-name" school such as Auburn lures him to the Plaines, or whether he can't get admitted due to academics, it'd be almost as big a shock seeing him actually line up in the Commodores' backfield as him committing to Vandy in the first place.
But Kimbrough's commitment — and recruiting in general — are vastly overrated to begin with.
— Matt Dixon is a senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @MattDixon3.