Friday afternoon in Rocky Mount, N.C., Nash Central High School Houhsun Gaines committed to Florida. At that exact moment, Florida coaches were 35,000 feet above the Southeast en route to Knoxville, completely unaware of his announcement.
Gaines, it appears, had been catfished.
Manti Te'o's cautionary tale will always remain college football's most infamous catfishing story, but Gaines' case is the first with actual real life consequences.
According to Gaines' account of events, he'd been corresponding with someone purporting to be Gators defensive line coach Brad Lawing for the past month and a half.
“When I talked to a coach, they told me they hadn’t spoke to Gaines in several weeks,” Nash Central athletics director Michael Mosley told the Rocky Mount Telegram. “I think he was talking to someone he thought was a coach. I guess he said (on Friday) that he had talked to a coach the night before, but they said he hadn’t talked to anybody on the coaching staff.”
The best lies are sprinkled with bits of truth, and Gaines fell for whatever this scheme because it was believable to him that Florida would offer him a scholarship. He's a three-star recruit that claims offers from Virginia Tech, N.C. State and Miami, and received the all-important non-committable verbal offer from Florida during the spring.
But Friday, the coaching staff was put in the extremely awkward position of explaining to Gaines, that, no, he would not be a Florida Gator as of yet.
“There is a commitment from Florida, but it’s not a commitment as far as what took place (on Friday). They want to see more from him, and that’s their exact words,” Mosley said.
It's a problem for Florida coaches, and not something they can do a whole lot to avoid. How do you stop a low-life from opening a Twitter account and tweeting recruits?
“The (Florida) coaches said that there are so many people out there who claim to be close to the program or be part of the program, who aren’t part of the program that get in a kid’s ear,” Mosley said. “They can’t filter it.”