SALT LAKE CITY – There are a few things I’m glad I don’t do. For example, I don’t drive without a seat belt. I don’t order the fish sandwich at burger joints. Mainly, though, I don’t worry much about college football recruiting.
Luckily, I have National Letter of Intent Day to do that for me.
Utah State coach Matt Wells says a quarterback he signed has a touchdown-to-interception ratio that is “off the chains.” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall says this “might be the strongest (recruiting class) in terms of ability and impact” the school has ever had. Kyle Whittingham at Utah says a key part of his recruiting yielded “speed, speed and more speed.”
All of them say their staffs are amazing and that their reach is increasing.
No need to convince me. I’m the guy who buys all-purpose cleaner from door-to-door salesmen.
Wednesday was signing day for college football players and, oh, what a day it was! Wait. Did I really say that? Actually it was like every other recruiting day. But you wouldn’t know it.
Size. Speed. Character. Guts. Intuition.
Just ask the coaches.
Weird part is that by the time they’re finished, they believe everything they’re saying.
Utah State launched the first press conference of the day, as it should have. The Aggies were the only instate team to finish the season with a bowl win. Wells began his remarks by nothing that “our staff did a tremendous job.”
He next talked about following the “blueprint” for his program by signing instate players, future LDS missionaries, Polynesians and addressing specific position needs.
He went on to say USU “added athleticism and length” and call it “a really great signing class.”
Mendenhall took it from there, announcing that BYU’s effort “superseded any staff I’ve been associated with.”
He said that BYU is enjoying unprecedented success with non-LDS athletes whose values align with the program. By his accounting, the Cougars signed three of four players in head-to-head competition with USC, and also won a heated battle with Stanford.
His new receivers are “more volatile, able to stretch defenses” and the linebackers “have fierce athleticism.”
Whittingham was the most reserved of the instate coaches, probably with good reason.
“Overall we feel really good about this class,” he said.
That’s strange, because none of the experts did.
Usually the coaches say they got almost everyone they wanted (wink, wink). By the way these things are staged, it’s hard to tell. The schools stream their press conferences live. Radio stations air the proceedings on the spot.
It’s a lot like the State of the Union address, with nearly as much baloney.
Whittingham went on to say a bigger indicator of a program’s strength is in sending players to the NFL. Utah is in the top half of the Pac-12 in that department.
“Recruiting comes down to evaluation and projection,” he said.
True, but it’s not like he would have turned down Jabrill Peppers.
For a handful of schools, signing day really does hold high drama, but for the rest it’s an excuse to get their names out during the off-season.Whether the situation will ever dramatically change in Utah is doubtful, unless the local teams start winning on a grandiose scale, for a considerable amount of time. Oregon made a big jump, but it needed more money than Caesar, plus two Rose Bowls, a Fiesta Bowl and an appearance in the national championship game – all in the last five years.
In the recruiting class of 2014, none of the Beehive State teams were considered top 50, going into Wednesday's events. None of ESPN’s top 300 high school recruits went to a Utah school, either (though BYU’s Devon Blackmon was No. 27 on the junior college top 50).
But I’m cool with that. I didn’t expect a ton. All I can say is that with all that selling, the coaches have only themselves to blame when fans think 7- or 8-win seasons just aren’t enough.
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