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View from the Booth: Signing day offers hope for the future

Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 4:26 p.m. MDT

Utah's Kyle Whittingham and his staff are no exception to this game. Today, Whittingham and Utah football will get commitments from somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25 high school and junior college football players. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah's Kyle Whittingham and his staff are no exception to this game. Today, Whittingham and Utah football will get commitments from somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25 high school and junior college football players. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."— Andy Dufresne

Today is the much-anticipated national letter of intent signing day for college football. All over the country the fate of college football coaches and programs are placed in the hands of 17- and 18-year-old kids. How would you sleep at night knowing that your job security is tied to the decision of a teenager that may or may not have told you the truth when you visited his home?

But that's the game that college football coaches all play.

Utah's Kyle Whittingham and his staff are no exception to this game. Today, Whittingham and Utah football will get commitments from somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25 high school and junior college football players.

We'll be told that Utah is pleased with its recruiting class and that it will have filled the needs it had this offseason — needs that included help along the defensive line and depth at the quarterback spot. Fans will get excited when they hear about the stars that go along with each recruit and how Utah continues to make progress heading into its third year in the Pac-12 Conference.

But this is all conjecture and hyperbole right now. We really don't have a clue how any of these kids will fare in the college game. Today, coaches around the country and right here in Utah are selling hope, and as Andy told Red in "Shawshank," hope is a good thing.

However, what is discussed today and the rankings that are passed out by Rivals, Scout and ESPN have no bearing whatsoever on how good these kids will actually be. Utah will not have a single five-star and probably only one 4-star recruit in this class. But those stars are not very predictive on next level talent. Just take three of the best players in recent Utah football history: Alex Smith, Eric Weddle and Star Lotulelei. None of the three were considered elite talent out of high school, yet all three developed into All-American talent during their time at Utah.

That's not to say signing a few so-called four- or five-star talents would be a bad thing, because to eventually compete in the upper echelon of the Pac-12 the Utes will have to grab some of those elite players at some point.

My point to all this is that fans should enjoy NLI Day for what it is: A chance for a glimpse into the potential future of your football program and gain some hope. Just keep in mind that you are betting on potential, which much like hope is never a sure thing.

Bill Riley is the co-host of the Bill and Hans Show weekdays from 2-6 p.m on ESPN 700 AM. You can follow Bill on Twitter @espn700bill.

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