National Signing Day is First Step Towards a Title
My wife finds it funny, this fascination and interest my friends and I have in National Signing Day. So do my kids. My dogs? Meh, not so much. They’re more concerned about getting in another nap.
Today is a big day. No, not really for me, but for so many high school seniors who make their college choices official.
Well, wait, it is a big day for me. Why? Because I want a natty. That’s “national title” for those of you not familiar with lingo among the recruits on the Twitter. Every college football fan wants one. A natty, not a Twitter.
That starts here, with the lifeblood of every college program – recruiting. Look it up (wait, I did it for you) – seven of the last eight national champions fielded a roster that was talent-laden with recruiting classes that averaged in the top 10 over their respective previous four Februarys:
2013: Florida State (7.25 four-year recruiting class national rank avg.)
2012: Alabama (2.00 avg.)
2011: Alabama (2.75 avg.)
2010: Auburn (12.75 avg.)
2009: Alabama (5.25 avg.)
2008: Florida (8.75 avg.)
2007: LSU (8.75 avg.)
2006: Florida (6.5 avg.)
Numbers don’t lie. There is a direct correlation between recruiting at an elite level and being in contention to win a national title.
Jackie Sherrill used to say that recruiting was like shaving — you have to do it every day. So which teams are expected to clean up today?
No surprise, Alabama leads the way again with the No. 1 recruiting class, according to ESPN. The Tide has five 5-star recruits and 18 of the ESPN top-300 national players, including the No. 1 offensive tackle (Cameron Robinson), the No. 2 defensive end (Da’Shawn Hand), the No. 2 cornerback (Tony Brown), and the No. 2 athlete (Bo Scarbrough).
Texas A&M is ranked No. 2, with two 5-stars, 14 4-stars, and 10 of the ESPN top-300, with the No. 1 defensive end (Myles Garrett), the No. 1 athlete (Speedy Noil), the No. 1 quarterback (Kyle Allen), and the No. 6 athlete (Nick Harvey). Kevin Sumlin and Co. are happy campers.
The No. 3 class belongs to LSU, with 14 ESPN-300 players and one 5-star player – the No. 1 running back in the nation (Leonard Fournette). Florida State is ranked 4th, with 12 ESPN-300’s, and 15 4-star recruits. Rounding out the top-five is Tennessee, with 11 ESPN-300 players and 17 4-stars.
Much of this is actually anti-climactic in this age of social media and the way recruiting is covered year-round. Twenty years ago, there were always big signing day surprises and unknowns, but times have changed. Now it’s all about picking up a hat in a ceremony that is done on live television during the fall. In fact, some of the best players in next year’s class have already verbally committed and more will come during the spring. By the time Signing Day gets here, 99 percent of the news has been broken.
Does that mean I’m any less excited to follow the action this morning? Nope. I enjoy all the hoopla, especially when there’s no other real options for football for the time being. Maybe there will be a surprise or two, who knows?
I’m logged in and I have ESPNU on the tube while I work this morning. The dogs? They’re just hoping I don’t interrupt some serious nap time.