Is "National Signing Day" overhyped?

    
February 7th, 2008

I'll admit, I usually find myself parked in front of either a computer or the television on days like yesterday, looking to find out where some of the nation's top prep talents will be spending their Saturdays over the next couple of seasons. But has this all gone too far? From player press conferences to viewing parties/receptions staged by colleges and/or booster clubs, it seems a little much when you take into account the fact that these young men have yet to play a college game. Now, I know just how important college football is to people in certain areas of the nation, and I'm one of those deranged folks...but not over recruits.

The ranking of high school players seems to be a little like the ranking of high school teams: do these recruiting gurus see each and every player out there? In the past, probably not but things have changed. What helps out with the evaluation is the increase in televised games, the growing importance of summer camps, and the recent surge in popularity of combines. That's right, an event made famous by the NFL has, in recent years, made its way onto the prep scene. The combines, usually put together by one of the more reputable scouting services, allows schools to get accurate numbers on prospects in regards to to the measurables that many a coach has, shall we say, fabricated in the past. Now, here are some of the main observations from National Signing Day.

1. Terrelle Pryor will wait to make his decision.

I like this move, in that Pryor himself said that he hasn't had the time to sit down and properly evaluate his four choices. Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Oregon now wait until April 1 to see where Terrelle decides to play college football. And even though he's also an outstanding basketball player as well, he will be a football-only guy at the next level. The one school he has yet to visit is Oregon, and things could get very interesting once he heads to Eugene. He's already seen Michigan and Ohio State, and given the proximity of his hometown to Penn State, he's already been to Happy Valley on numerous occasions. We'll see where he ends up, but if looking for the right offensive system to showcase his skills, it would look like Michigan and Oregon would be the best fit. As for contending for a national title, Ohio State.

2. I knew they wouldn't let Julio Jones leave Alabama.

Had Jones not signed with the Crimson Tide, all you-know-what would have broken loose. Instead, the top-rated WR in this year's class chose to stay in his home state instead of head to Oklahoma. I guess having your name chanted at a basketball game can do that to a young man. Experts hailed this class as the one that could put Alabama football back on the map, and I'm sure the message boards down there are gushing about the potential of Nick Saban's team in 2008 and beyond.

3. "The U" is back...on the recruiting scene.

Miami also brought in a large haul, a group thought to be the nation's best. But there's still a lot of work to be done by Randy Shannon and his staff, considering their 5-7 record and the fact that they will be woefully inexperienced at quarterback this year (Robert Marve, a redshirt freshman, will most likely be the guy at the start of spring practice). But they did very well on both sides of the ball in recruiting, especially on defense. And Shannon also has kept alot of the Dade County talent home, something the Canes hadn't done as well the past couple of seasons.

4. Coaching turmoil probably cost West Virginia big-time.

While head coach Bill Stewart may have been all about recruiting, the news stories coming out of Morgantown pretty much focused on the squabble going on between WVU and former head coach Rich Rodriguez. The recruiting result: a roster most analysts don't consider to be fitting of a school that won the Fiesta Bowl. But with Pat White and Noel Devine back, that may not matter too much.

5. Three straight seasons Pittsburgh has had the Big East's best recruting haul. 2008: bowl game of bust for Wannstedt.

It's just that simple for the Panthers now. LeSean McCoy will be coming off of an outstanding season, and knock on wood they should be healthier. The question now is how well the defense performs with coordinator Paul Rhoads leaving to take the same post at Auburn.

6. My top 5 teams heading into spring practice:

1. Georgia
2. USC
3. Florida
4. Oklahoma
5. Clemson