The first Wednesday in February is one of the best parts of the offseason if you’re a college football fan.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you need to re-evaluate your fandom.
I’m talking about national signing day. The day is upon us once again where high school seniors decide the possible fates of your favorite college football program.
As a die-hard college football fan, there isn’t a better event during the offseason than this. After following hundreds of prospects, dreaming about what it would be like to have their respective talents on your team’s roster, there is a certain satisfaction knowing they have sent in that national letter of intent to assure that they will playing for your team.
Through countless amounts of verbal commitments, de-commitments, rumors and the like, knowing for certain that a player will be coming to your school is both a relief and, in a way, a reward for following his career so closely.
As a college student, recruiting has a different feel for myself.
Knowing these kids are all around my age makes it that much more interesting to me. Although, it has also caused me to stop and think.
Not everyone who follows recruiting religiously is the same age as me.
It made me realize that there are grown adults that obsess over what decision these teenagers make on where they are going to school, and it got me thinking just how weird and bizarre the whole recruiting process is.
First off, there are the four, yes four, different types of recruiting sites. This means there are four different sets of people ranking the exact same kids, and then coming up with sometimes woefully different results. It also means that there are a bunch of people whose job it is out there to follow the everyday lives of recruits, and give the general public updates on these kids.
On top of this, the rankings that people obsess over aren’t always accurate. For every top-five star recruit like the University of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, there are plenty of three-star underrated recruits that have success, like recent Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M University.
Secondly, there’s the process of recruiting itself.
How it works is that up until the early enrollment deadline, which is the start of the spring semester, players can’t officially decode on a school until Wednesday’s national signing date. This means that players can say what they want about their commitment to a school until those dates, which often means that their verbal commitments could change two, or even three times throughout the process.
Lastly, and perhaps the most important, is what happens when these kids ultimately make their decision. Following these kids so closely really gives me a sense of their personalities, and all of them appear to be good-natured guys looking to make the best decision for their future. Yet all the time, you will see examples of overzealous fans of schools getting in these kids faces if they don’t make the decision they want them to make. It is all too common to see grown adults threaten kids with violence or wish ill upon their health just because they didn’t pick their school.
One example in particular was a University of Michigan recruit who was already committed to the Wolverines receiving a letter from the Ohio State University. He would burn the letter and posted the picture of it on his Twitter page. The recruit promptly received death threats from crazed Ohio State fans, which caught national attention in the news. A small gesture turned into a national story just like that.
Yet another example of the craziness comes from this most recent ND was on Wednesday, Feb. 4, when a top running back recruit from the state of Florida committed to Arkansas.
His mom, though, wanted him to stay closer to home, so she STOLE his letter of intent, and refused to let him sign to go to Arkansas. I can’t make this stuff up.
All in all, I love recruiting.
I love to see the puzzle pieces come together in a class that will shape the future of the program. Yet, looking closer at the process, I can see all of the flaws of the system.
In the end, if you’re a huge fan of the game, just put yourself in their shoes, and try not to scrutinize what these kids do.