Ronald Audette, Elk River's superb senior two-way lineman, was just finishing up a home visit Saturday with North Dakota State's offensive line coach when the text arrived.
It was from Tim Tibesar, the Wisconsin linebackers coach who had recently been named defensive coordinator at Oregon State. The message implored Audette to rethink his decision to sign with NDSU.
A few minutes later, another text arrived, this one from Wisconsin, telling Audette the Badgers likely have a place for him as a nose tackle. Michigan jumped into the mix soon after, as did Connecticut. Navy expressed its interest. New Mexico, too.
Audette had waited until mid-October to make a college commitment, holding out hope that he would receive an offer from a Power Five conference school, before verbally committing to the Bison.
But here it was, just a few days before the NCAA's new early signing period for football, and suddenly he was a hot commodity. A day later, he told the coaches at North Dakota State that he was reopening the recruiting process.
"It opened my eyes to the fact that there were more opportunities out there," Audette said. "It's all starting up again."
With two signing periods instead of one — the NCAA is retaining the traditional football signing period that begins on the first Wednesday in February — stories such as Audette's could become common. Players can hold out until there is more clarity on early signing period commitments and college coaches attempt to fill remaining needs.
That might explain why Audette, a nimble-footed 6-3, 305-pound lineman, suddenly found himself in demand.
"It makes you wonder why it didn't happen earlier, but I guess that's what you'd expect," he said. "If a guy goes to a different school, they'll move on to the next guy."
Reopening his recruitment will make for another month or so of uncertainty, for Audette. But it's also a chance to fulfill his goal of playing at the highest level. He'll also get to take a few official recruiting visits, a perk he never experienced.
"We have every weekend in January set up to take an official visit somewhere," he said. "I kind of want them to show me they want me."