Last week, we started hearing rumors that OL Rami Hammad, once a Baylor commit in the class of 2013, was leaving Texas for greener pastures elsewhere. I never really considered the possibility that those pastures might be in Waco, but lo and behold, Hammad is coming home, choosing the Bears over more than 40 programs, including UCLA and Alabama. Hammad cited irreconcilable differences with UT OL coach Joe Wickline, not issues with the depth chart or anything else, as his reason for deciding to leave:
"It was the hardest decision for me to ever make in my life. I want to thank Texas and Mack Brown for giving me a chance to play there," Hammad said. "I wish it would've worked out. The staff changed and the coaches changed and I never knew this would happen. God works in mysterious ways. I wish nothing but the best for them and my teammates were my brothers. I never would've made this move if I didn't think it would work out. It was never about depth chart or playing time. It was simply a clash between me and [offensive coordinator Joe] Wickline and it couldn't be resolved."
When this story first went up, it contained a tweet from ESPN.com's Max Olson saying that Hammad would have 2 years' eligibility after sitting out for 2014. That set off debate on basically every Baylor site in existence as people trying to figure out why. After all that, it now seems like Hammad will, in fact, have 3 years to play 3 after sitting out 2014. That's according to Brian Ethridge of 247Sports and Craig Smoak of ESPN1660, and it's supposedly because Texas HC Charlie Strong gave Hammad a full release with no conditions. I'm going to assume they are right, and Hammad will sit out this year as a redshirt freshmen then play in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Olson's belief that Hammad will only get two years relies on the fact that this is an in-conference transfer, and conference rules require the forfeiture of an additional year of eligibility. That would mean Hammad sits in 2014 and plays in 2015 as a junior as if he never redshirted at all. The rule is spelled out here on pages 27/28 (opens as a .pdf).
I don't which of the two things is right, but I'm going to assume that the sources who told Smoak and Ethridge are correct until we get some kind of evidence that they are not.
I can't recall a situation like this where a recruit is committed to a school, decommits for another and enrolls, and then transfers later on to the first school. I'm sure it's happened, but I can't recall off the top of my head when it has. Really, it just makes me sad for Hammad, since he has apparently regretted his decision not to come to Baylor and will now lose 2 years of possible playing time as a result. I'm also happy, though, because he was a recruit we really wanted in high school, and every bit of potential depth on the OL helps.
If Hammad transfers as planned, that will be Baylor's second high-profile acquisition from an in-state school in recent months, joining former Aggie Ishmael Wilson. I'd like nothing better now than for both to go on to play as starters. One other thing -- I'm going to have to go look at the scholarship chart now that Hammad is reportedly coming aboard, since I thought after this weekend we were already at 85.