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PSA: It’s time for Illinois fans to stop tweeting at basketball and football recruits

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It’s very simple: don’t do it.

Ohio State v Illinois Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

You’ve likely heard this rant before, and if you’re one of those social media stalkers who continues to tweet at sixteen-year-old kids, this plea will mean nothing to you. But as more and more college basketball recruits announce where they intend to go this coming Summer, it’s important for some of the more “passionate” fans to be reminded what is and isn’t okay to do on social media.

The rules are pretty simple, and you’ve probably heard us and other SBNation sites say it a million times: don’t tweet at recruits. Just don’t do it. There is literally zero upside to doing it. Yes, perhaps a high school recruit you’ve been following closely is considering attending your alma mater and will undoubtedly bring them to college basketball glory if he does so. You know what the best course of action for you to take is? Do nothing. It shouldn’t be a terribly challenging task for you to complete. All you have to do is sit back and watch the whole recruitment play out. Because nothing good ever comes from a fanbase circling and swooping in on a recruit’s personal life like a bunch of vultures.

To be fair, there is a line for interacting with recruits on social media. Some people cross it, some don’t. It’s totally okay to follow and favorite a recruits’ tweets. Hell, some people even use their Photoshop wizardry to create an edit of the player in their schools’ uniform. That’s cool (and usually gets retweeted by the kid). But there’s a point where the passion goes too far, and crosses that murky line on its way to downright creepy. Sure, some recruits probably love the attention they receive on social media, but even in the best-case scenario your tweet isn’t going to be the difference between them committing to your school versus that rival up north. In fact, there have been multiple examples of the opposite happening.

Last year, a Texas A&M assistant football coach tweeted his displeasure at a recruit de-committing from the Aggies, only to lose 2-3 more recruits that same night following his social media rant. Believe me: the negative impact a tweet can have is far greater than the positive impact it can provide. This example is even worse than it seems; we’re talking about a coach who couldn’t control his Twitter rants. But fans should take this as a cautionary tale that they need to act just as professional on social media as coaches do when it comes to interacting with recruits.

I’m not interested in calling anyone out specifically, but the Twitter backlash on Jeremiah Tilmon’s de-commitment was ridiculous, and quite frankly embarrassing. Let’s remember that it’s now been a week since Tilmon requested his release, and he hasn’t visited any other schools. Missouri certainly seems to be a good fit, but what if Tilmon has a change of heart? It’s doubtful, but those 200+ vulgar tweets from the Illinois fanbase would reflect even more poorly if the four-star big man decided to return to the Illini. Similar amounts of disgusting tweets and posts were directed towards past recruits like Cliff Alexander and Quentin Snider when they spurned Illinois. It’s understandable to be frustrated, but consider what these kids have to go through.

I know it’s difficult to do, but put yourself in the mind of an eighteen-year-old with a five-star ranking and the future possibility of NBA stardom. Wouldn’t you want to milk the hell out of the recruitment process too? Never in your life are you going to garner as much attention as you are right now. If I’m being honest with myself, I’d be trolling fan bases left and right if I knew they were waiting with baited breath every day to see what shirt I was wearing or what I had for lunch.

So take a second before you tweet at that stud college recruit, and really think about the impact it could have. Because I guarantee you the negative implications far outweigh the positive ones. And the situation only becomes more awkward if the recruit commits to your school a few days or weeks later. The good news is that the solution to this potentially-messy situation is really simple: don’t tweet at recruits. It never ends well. Don’t do it.