Top signing classes don't always equal success

Championships aren't won in February

By Will Manso - Sports Director
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All across the country, college football head coaches are holding news conferences to praise how good their signing classes look.  Most will say, "we got all our guys," or "we filled our needs," and the classic, "this is a great group of young men."  But, the reality is, this day doesn't mean much in the long haul.

I don't mean to be pessimistic, but many of these young players will have a tough time even qualifying to play.  Do you remember how hard it was adjusting to college?  Now add being a football player with rigid practice schedules and all the pressure of succeeding.  It's not easy.

Trust me, I'm not trying to insult these players intelligence.  This has nothing to do with them and everything to do with money.  TV networks show live coverage of young men making decisions from their high schools, recruiting sites provide minute-by-minute updates and news organizations (Local 10 included) fill the news and web with signing day coverage.  My question is, do we ever follow through and really see what happens to these players?

I would love to have a "where are they now" news conference for every school in a couple of years and see where these recruiting classes ended up.  Are the signees still in school?  Are they still playing football?  Have they become better men?  I know, I know, that's not exactly thrilling stuff, but it is reality.

Sometimes we lose sight of what's important.  Take Randy Shannon, for instance.  A few years ago he put together what some were calling the number one signing class in the entire country.  What did that class get him?  Well, it got him fired.

No one seems to care whatever really happened to that class.  Players left the team, some left the school and some simply underachieved.  Yet, 5 years later, it doesn't matter, and Shannon is providing signing day commentary on TV, instead of recruiting more players as a coach.

Plus, we have no way of knowing how these players will really develop.  I remember Kyle Wright being the top QB recruit in the nation when he came to Miami.  Anyone know what Wright is doing these days?  Yeah, neither do I.

Scouting services are praising all these 5-star recruits headed to UM, FSU and UF.  Meantime, the New York Giants are headed to the Super Bowl thanks, in part, to Victor Cruz.  He was a 1-star recruit who didn't have any live news conference on signing day and ended up going to UMass.

The key now for Al Golden and all the other head coaches around the country is to develop these players into great students and great men.  Trust me, I know they'll say all the right things, but when push comes to shove, its produce or move on. 

It's a tough world for a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds to enter.  But, in the end, that's national signing day.  It's all hype and no substance.

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