For most of the highly-ranked juniors, the early signing period Wednesday was just a matter of making their longstanding commitments official.
Everyone knew Beau Hossler would be showing up at school wearing Texas orange and signing his national letter of intent to play for the Longhorns. Everyone knew Jim Liu, although it took until Friday because of exams, to ink his name on his NLI, signaling his official decision to play for Stanford next fall.
But what everyone didn’t know was what Robby Shelton IV was planning on doing.
Golfweek’s third-ranked junior didn’t sign an NLI on Wednesday because he still is undecided on where he will attend college next fall. Shelton has narrowed his decision down to Alabama and Auburn, and has taken unofficial visits to both campuses.
“I’ve been thinking for two or three years, just I don’t know,” Shelton said after the first round of the Polo Golf Junior Classic.
The Wilmer, Ala., native says his college decision ultimately came down to coaches and facilities. He has always known he didn’t want to leave the state of Alabama for college.
“They’re both great programs,” he said of Auburn and Alabama.
Shelton is regarded as one of the top high school seniors in the country and is no doubt the best golfer who still hasn’t signed with a school. He had an impressive junior campaign this year, winning the Junior Players and Junior PGA and also advancing to match play at the U.S. Junior.
Alabama finished second at the NCAA Championship this past spring while Auburn signed an impressive pair of recruits on Wednesday in Matt Gilchrest and Will Long.
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VANDY’S BIG PRIZE There were many recruiting classes that stood out after Wednesday’s signings. Clemson secured a talented pair in Carson Young (No. 10 in Golfweek/Sagarin Class of 2013 rankings) and Austin Langdale (No. 16). As did Georgia, which landed Greyson Sigg (No. 19) and Branson Davis (No. 23), and Arizona State, which got signings from Nicolo Galletti (No. 13) and Ki Taek Lee (No. 18).
Auburn signed Matt Gilchrest (No. 17), Victor Wiggins (No. 33) and Will Long (No. 51) while Florida State also got a nice trio of signees in Jack Maguire (No. 5), Anthony Alex (No. 28) and Joshua Lee.
Army pulled in two big recruits in Peter Kim (No. 12) and Justin Pagila. And of course schools like Stanford, Texas, Washington and Oregon all landed top 10 players.
But one class stood out thanks to a decision made by one of the top amateurs in the world.
Matthias Schwab, the sixth-ranked amateur in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, signed with Vanderbilt on Wednesday. He joined Zachary Herr (No. 47) and Michael Decker in what was head coach Scott Limbaugh’s first recruiting class with the Commodores.
“We are very excited with the high caliber of student athletes we were able to attract with this signing class,” Limbaugh said. “I believe these young men sensed the momentum our program has gained, the tremendous support we receive from our administration and the fact that our program is on the move.”
Schwab, a native of Austria, finished sixth at the European Amateur and made it to the quarterfinals of the British Boys Amateur this year. He also advanced to the British Amateur final and just missed out on a berth in next year’s Masters.
He was also a member of the European squad at the 2012 Junior Ryder Cup, where he went 2-0-1, and has made two European Tour cuts.
“Matt is one of the most focused young men that I have ever been around,” Limbaugh said. “He is a really hard worker and a great competitor. Matt works really hard in the classroom and will certainly be a great representative of this university.”
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HISTORIC SIGNING: Perhaps the most impressive signing goes to Middle Tennessee State, who landed Tae Wan Lee from Orlando, Fla., during the early signing period on Wednesday.
Lee, who is ranked fourth in the Golfweek/Sagarin Class of 2013 rankings and the Polo Golf junior rankings, is the highest ranked recruit in school history.
“To bring in a student-athlete of Tae Wan’s caliber says a lot about our golf program and university,” Blue Raiders head coach Whit Turnbow said. “He has competed against the best juniors in the world and performed at a high level. He’s a great student with a 3.8 GPA and has a chance to make an immediate impact on our team to help us compete on a national level.”
Lee, who chose Middle Tennessee State over Florida, USC, LSU and Virginia, notched runner-up finishes at the Western Junior and the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Innisbrook. He also had a T-9 showing at last summer’s U.S. Junior Amateur and finished third at the Thunderbird International Junior.
He’ll join a Blue Raiders team next fall that will not graduate a single player on its roster this spring. It’s a roster that includes Andrew Cho, who attended the same high school as Lee (Downey Christian).
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SHORT SHOTS: Oklahoma State might not have gotten Max McGreevy, the Oklahoma native who signed to become a Sooner on Wednesday, but the Cowboys did get another highly-rated Oklahoma product in Brandon Jelley (No. 25) of Tulsa. Oklahoma State also got Stratton Nolen (No. 39) from Austin, Texas, who is not only one of the best juniors in the country but he’s also a Rickie Fowler look-alike. . . . Tae Wan Lee was not the only player ranked in the top 30 to sign with a school not part of a major conference. Andrej Bevins (No. 7) signed with New Mexico, Peter Kim (No. 12) will play at Army, Daniel De La Garza and Robert Deng (Nos. 22 and 27, respectively) will attend Harvard, and Carter Jenkins (No. 29) signed with UNC-Greensboro. . . . Oregon head coach Casey Martin has this to say about the Ducks’ top recruit, Thomas Lim (No. 9): “Thomas is a tremendous addition. He’s an all-around great recruit, a wonderful student, great competitor and person. He had a breakout spring and summer season, and we’re really excited to have him join our program.” . . . Stanford may have gotten top-ranked Jim Liu, but don’t sleep on the Cardinals’ two other recruits, Maverick McNealy and Viraat Badhwar. McNealy is one of the top juniors in California and advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur last summer. Badhwar is currently the top-ranked junior in Australia and was previously the top-ranked junior in India before moving to Australia.
Information used from Oregon athletics, Middle Tennessee State athletics and Vanderbilt athletics.