Guest commentary: What National Letter of Intent day means for your favorite school
Dave Martin, AP
As a college football geek, National Letter of Intent signing day is one of the most exciting days of the year (on the surface at least). We get to see potential stars play three card monty with baseball caps and toy with the heartstrings of local fans and college coaches. We get to hear about mothers who falsely sign their son's letter of intent to make sure they go to the school close to home. We get to hear about the next great star that will no doubt make your beloved school a national contender.
Those kinds of entertaining things made Wednesday an action-packed day that can't be missed by the college football faithful. But that's all it is, entertainment.
The fancy stars that end up next to the high school games' so-called elite players mean nearly nothing. The next great player on your favorite team could be a guy who has five stars or it could be a guy with two stars or even no ranking. All you have to do is look at players like Alex Smith, Matt Ryan and Johnny Manziel to see my point.
Smith was a two-star recruit in 2002, according to Rivals.com, with almost no fanfare who ended up leading the University of Utah to a BCS win followed by being taken with the first pick in the 2005 NFL draft. Ryan went from three-star recruit in 2003 to the third pick in the 2008 draft. Manziel went from being a three-star recruit in 2011, according to Rivals.com, to becoming the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy.
The reason for that is because it is nearly impossible to tell how a player is going to translate from one level to the next. A guy may have all the measurables — great speed, fantastic size and remarkable skills on the field — but those aren't the only things that matter. If they were, then recruiting would be much easier. The things that you can't measure are the size of a kid's heart, his will to be the best and the ability to adjust to college life.
For some players, the latter is not an easy thing. Having no parental supervision for the first time as well as being a big-time recruit can lead to situations that some 18-year-olds can't handle.
For some, that may just be going to class and listening to coaches while for others the situation may be much worse. Just look at all the big-time players who get busted for drugs or things even more severe.
Thankfully, that only happens to a small number of players compared to the mass amount of signees.
Even the recruits who don't have issues with the adjustment to school may have plenty of issues on the field. For some, the game is just too fast and the scheme is just to difficult to pick up, while for others, their skills just don't translate to the higher level of competition. Some even catch the injury bug and can just never shake it.
Whether or not your favorite school gets all the big names that you are hoping for, just remember that national letter of intent signing day is a great day full of hope and expectations for another great season of college football only seven short months away.
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