These days, when I’m having one conversation after another with agents, combine trainers, parents, media members, some scouts, coaches and others around the game, I hear a lot of things. A lot of it is code, so I thought I’d pass along some of it here, partly because it amuses me, and partly because, if you’re going to be in the business, you need to know what it means.

Today’s lesson is on the statement: ‘We haven’t even spoken to that kid.’

A big part of what our Rep Rumblings reports is credible information on who’s signing with whom, who’s recruiting whom, who’s firing whom, who’s hiring whom, and other such buzz. Not all of it is proven, black-and-white, cut-and-dried stuff. That means I have to trust the sources that have shown themselves to be reliable after 10-plus years of doing this. Sometimes I’m wrong, I’ll admit, but most of the time, I’m right.

This time of year, especially, we are constantly rolling out info about players who are near signing with certain agents. Sometimes the info is hazy, and we can only report the progress of the vetting process, but sometimes we name the agency. That almost always earns us a phone call from the agency. Sometimes, they freely admit that they are talking to the kid, but deny that they are the favorite. Sometimes they admit they are the favorite, but they’re upset (based on our relationship) that we reported it. But sometimes, they categorically deny that they’ve even spoken to the kid. In fact, that’s exactly what they say: “We haven’t even spoken to the kid.”

In these instances, I’ve learned, it’s important to parse words. Last week, I posted sensitive info about an agency that I was told had the inside track on a mid-round talent in the ’15 draft. Sometime later that day, I got the inevitable call, with an agent (who’s become one of my better friends and is with one of the more honorable firms in the business) claiming there had been no communications with the player in question. I expressed my regret for information he claimed was misguided. I was to learn later, however, that no actual verbal communication did not mean no interest. To his credit, later the same agent expressed that he and his agency had tried to get in through the player’s coach, but had not actually spoken to the young man. What he had originally said was untrue is still untrue, and I had been wrong, but it was also true that I hadn’t been completely off-base.

Here’s another, better example. Probably four or five years ago, I got a tip from a reliable source that a major firm would sign a big-time player in draft that was still more than a year away. My source had been reliable and he was adamant, so I ran with the info. I got no response from the agency right away. However, a year later, shortly after the draft, one of the firm’s agents contacted me. “We never even talked to that kid until a couple of months ago,” he said. Well, maybe not, but obviously, someone had been talking to him. You don’t sign a highly touted player with a casual phone call a couple months before the draft.

You almost need a Rosetta Stone to interpret some of the things you hear in this business. More translations to come.

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