Are recruiting hoaxes the new new thing?

Recruiting Hoax FootballNo doubt we all remember the ridiculous Kevin Hart hoax, where he invented a recruiting race for his services between Cal and Oregon, before “choosing” Cal at a press conference, despite having never spoken to or been contacted by either school.

Well, it appears there’s been another one, this one equally odd as well as student driven. From the Carolina Coast News-Times:

A young man posing as a football recruiter from East Carolina University visited the school offering to help Croatan [High School] players earn preferred walk-on status with the Pirate football team.

Preferred walk-ons are recruited athletes who are invited to join college teams with a guarantee of a roster spot but not a scholarship. Should a player prove himself worthy, he may be offered a scholarship in the future.

“As a school, we are trying to do everything possible to give our kids a chance to attend college,” said Croatan principal Matt Bottoms. “So he was able to play on that over eagerness. Because of this episode, we are now instituting policies to protect against this overzealousness. We called ECU and the NCAA and they didn’t know anything about the guy. It’s the most bizarre thing we’ve ever experienced.”

Kodey Kroger, 18, visited Croatan on Wednesday, Dec. 9, posing as a student-recruiter for the ECU football team. He met with coaches, two student-athletes and their parents over a period of two days, offering the hope that the two could continue their playing days in the purple and gold of the Pirates.

Kroger said he was a student at ECU and played on the football team. He told those in the Croatan athletic department that numerous colleges are beginning to use their student-athletes to recruit high school student-athletes.

“He said he was a student-recruiter,” said Bottoms. “He had the credentials. He had signed papers from coach Skip Holtz, and he looked very official. He talked to our coaches and two of our students about possibly walking on the football team. He was here for a few days, but after some time, things just weren’t adding up.”

[ . . .]

“The father of one of our players is a friend of coach (John) Lancaster (West Carteret football coach), and coach Lancaster told him he was sure the guy wasn’t legit,” said Croatan athletic director and head football coach David Perry. “So I called my friend Harold Robinson (director of high school relations) at ECU, and he said the guy had no association with the school.”

Lancaster also did some investigating when Kroger visited West Carteret.

“I know all the position coaches at ECU, and I know Vernon Hargreaves (defensive ends coach/special teams coordinator) recruits this area,” he said. “So I had one of my coaches call ECU the next day, and they said they didn’t know anything about him. He came back the next day, and our secretary asked for a card and told him that we had called ECU and they didn’t know anything about him. He left and didn’t come back.”

[. . .]

The local high school football coaches wouldn’t normally check the credentials of a recruiter, because it isn’t unusual for recruiters to be walking the halls of high schools this time of year.

“Coaches are here a lot,” said Lancaster. “Jerrick Hall (Campbell assistant coach) was just here yesterday. He said he knew the kid when I asked him about it. He said he had been ruled ineligible. This time of year, recruiters are out and about because their seasons are over and the signing period is in February. A lot of Division II schools, especially, are recruiting now. They are trying to find players who were hoping to go Division I, but it just didn’t work out.”

[. . .]

“It was all very believable,” said McBride. “He was dressed in all purple and had a purple notebook and such. He was offering walk-on vouchers, and they looked legitimate. He was able to defend his authority, and he gave us a lot of credentials.

“He had ECU-embroidered documents. He had an authority letter given to him by Skip Holtz. And he looked to be about 6-2, 250 pounds, so he definitely looked like he was a college football player.”

[ . . .]

“I made some calls, and apparently he had been at Swansboro (High School) the second week of October and had pulled the same thing,” said Meadows. “I contacted the D.A.’s (district attorney) office and the magistrate and talked with them. And I contacted his mother and the young man and arranged to meet with them.”

According to Capt. Jason Wank of the Carteret County Sheriff’s Deptartment, Kroger has been advised not to return to the high school and not to have any more contact with the two Croatan student-athletes. Trespassing and/or harassment charges will be brought should either occur.

“We consulted with the district attorney and no crime was committed,” said Wank. “No criminal charges will be brought at this time. There was no attempt to obtain anything of value in this episode.”

Kroger did have forms with the two Croatan student-athletes’ signatures and the last four digits of their Social Security codes, but there was no attempt at identity theft or any effort made to obtain money.

Meadows’ meeting with the mother and Kroger instead revealed a troubled young man.

“The mother told me she had some problems with him,” said Meadows. “And that she was going to get him some help. She was very cooperative, but obviously, she was devastated.”

Kroger could not be reached for comment by presstime.

Left in the wake of the episode is also two devastated Croatan student-athletes who thought they were headed to Greenville to play Division I college football.

“There was no malice and nothing was gained on his part,” said Bottoms. “He didn’t seem to be out to scam or con anyone, at least as far as taking advantage of the situation. So in that sense, he didn’t hurt anyone. But he did take advantage of the kids’ emotions. They are devastated.

“But to their credit, they have been also been very compassionate. Because they realize the young man has problems. I’m concerned for the young man and hope he gets the help he needs. It was all just very strange.”

Also left behind from the experience is a coaching staff whose hopes of granting their student-athletes a future education and opportunity to play college football has, for the moment, now gone by the wayside.

“It’s just very disappointing, because as teachers and coaches, you so desperately want something positive to happen for your kids,” said McBride. “I was so excited for the kids. But now, I’m just furious. I guess it all seemed too good to be true.”

  • Wow – all that work and effort…..FOR WHAT?!

    What is the motive? To play recruiter? Thanks Tom Lemming

  • James

    One of the weirdest things I have ever read. Some deep psychological issues are at play here- that kid needs some serious help.

  • OldSouth

    Wow, how bizarre. I’m curious if Kroger has had a professional psychiatric diagnosis.

    I don’t think a mental illness manifesting itself in an unusual way, coupled with the Kevin Hart story, necessarily indicate a trend.

    Glad to see some more posts up Chris. Hope the new life hasn’t been too soul-crushing (though from everything I hear about that stuff I’m sure it is).

  • Adam

    On a side note, whatever happened to Hart? Was he recruited?

  • Chris

    He was at Feather River College in Cal. I have no clue if he’s still with them or not??

  • Mr.Murder

    OT – Georgia ate up the smash route combo into the third quarter of their bowl game. They rotated safeties hard and got an INT that helped them route A&M. It looked like they were keying the combo off that formations’ splits for the given situation.

  • 4.0 Point Stance

    Apparently the next big thing is retirement hoaxes.

  • hmmm….I remember playing in college and doing this (sort of). We would call up players of the upcoming team and pose as recruiters for major DI programs, give a fluffed recruiter line talking about their potential, then schedule a time to meet them (stand them up – never make the appt). Then during the game, we’d keep mentioning that recruiters name and what we told them on the phone to let them know that they’d been pranked…..not the same effect as this, but at least it was funny.

  • jay

    I went to high school with kroger and he lied about just random shit all the time, I never thought he would go to this far.

  • Don’t you think it might be smart to think twice about this? That is not saying you are wrong, but when you write things similar to this, it’s going to piss off some folks. And I speculate if you’ve given thought to the other side of your post.

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