There are some high school athletes who commit to playing college hockey somewhere during their senior year, then spend two years developing in junior hockey (either the USHL or NAHL). That means a college coach is trying to accurately predict where a player will be in development three years after they are recruited.
In some cases, things don't work out as planned. John O'Neill is a real-life example of this.
The former Anoka star committed to UMD as a senior in high school. During that senior year, the Tornadoes came amazingly close to a berth in the state tournament, losing an incredible Section 7AA final to Cloquet/Esko/Carlton at the DECC.
From there, things have not gone O'Neill's way at all. He vanished from the roster of the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers, surfacing in the (somewhat inferior, frankly) NAHL with North Iowa. 35 games and just four goals later, O'Neill is looking for a new college to play hockey at.
Former Anoka High School center John O'Neill, a Minnesota Duluth recruit, informed the Bulldogs Tuesday he was withdrawing from his commitment and will be looking to begin his college career elsewhere, according to an e-mail from John's father, Brett, a Superior native.
He was scheduled to join UMD this season, but that was pushed back. He'll play at North Iowa again this season after re-opening his commitment.
O'Neill might not be on the verge of becoming a Bulldog as first thought, but we wish him well.