(Philadelphia, Pa) — The first week of February has recently become a sports phenomenon as thousands of high school football stars announce their college selections on “Signing Day” (Wednesday February 4th). As someone who considers himself Old-school and a historian of the game, ‘Signing Day’ is a bit premature and overblown for my taste. I find it hard to believe the amount of coverage — the ESPN family of channels had over 9 hours — that is given to former high school stars who have not even stepped foot onto a college football practice field. I even heard some college football analysts absurdly handing out future National Championships and Heisman’s based solely on Signing Day.
Sure it is a great experience for players and their families to be featured on national television, but you have to wonder if all of the white-hot ‘Signing Day’ attention and expectations placed on these 18-year old kids does more harm than good. Immediately you know these young players are feeling the outside pressure from hanger-on types that are looking at them as their meal ticket and in terms of football, coaches and teammates may want immediate results from a player who may not be ready to deliver for three years. For all of the hysteria surrounding Signing Day, my advice to everyone patting these young men on the back is to Relax. The college football world needs to remember that it is only one calendar day and immediately after the 2009 Super Class is announced, everyone will already be getting ready to anoint the 2010 group.
Unfortunately college football history is filled with high school hotshots who couldn’t live-up to their immense Letter of Intent expectations. Remember the road from Friday Night Lights high school Big Man to Saturday afternoon college football playmaker is quite trepidous with many potential pitfalls including grades, competition, injuries, girls, partying and any other obstacle that can quickly dim any high school All-American’s bright future. Another trend that I believe is signaling the too quick end of blue-chip player’s youth is that many Signing Day prospects like Penn State signee Kevin Newsome are graduating high school early (foregoing the final semester of their senior year) to enroll in college in January to get a head start on their competition by playing in college Spring Ball.
We will have to see in the next 2 to 3 years how the Signing Day Class of 2009 progresses, but I caution everyone that watches ESPN’s College Gameday show to give these young players time to mature. Do you remember the names Baron Jackson, Anthony Martinez, Ron Powlus, and James Banks…probably not, but on their respective Signing Days, these former blue-chippers were all considered “Can’t Miss” prospects.
Some of the players that I will have my eye on that signed their Letters of Intent on February 4th are.
NAME HOMETOWN COLLEGE
EJ Banks Montour, PA Notre Dame
Shavodrick Beaver Rider, TX Tulsa
Tajh Boyd Hampton, Va Clemson
Raymond Cotton Fort Meade, MD Ole Miss
CJ Crawford Huntington, WV Marshall
Curtis Drake Philadelphia, Pa Penn State
Chris Frazier Dallas, TX SMU
Ka’lial Glaud Atco, NJ Rutgers
Thomas Gordon Detroit, MI Michigan
AJ Graham Talahasse, FL Marshall
Cody Green Dayton, TX Nebraska
Kenny Guiton Aldine, TX Ohio State
AJ Highsmith Fort Bend, TX Miami
Darren Jones Harvey, IL New Mexico
Kenric McNeal Spring, TX Texas A&M
Kevin Newsome Hargrave Military (VA) Penn State
Morgan Newton Carmel, IN Kentucky
Terrence Owens Cleveland, OH Toledo
DeVontae Payne Cleveland, OH E. Michigan
Jordan Reed New London, CT Florida
Tyrik Rollison Sulphur Springs, TX Auburn
Tyler Russell Meridian, MS Miss. St
Nathan Scheelhaase Kansas City, Mo Illinois
Russell Shepard Houston, TX LSU
David Sims St Matthews, SC Georgia Tech
Eugene Smith Miramar, FL W. Virginia
Travante Stallworth Leesville, LA Auburn
Broderick Thomas Jr Fort Bend, TX Houston
Logan Thomas Lynchburg, VA Virginia Tech
Edward Wright-Baker Jeffersonville, IN Indiana
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)