It's a question I ask of the top recruits each year: What's the rush?
Over the years, national signing day has become a near holy, televised, overexposed event.
|Calling all recruits: Notre Dame has the circus. (Getty Images)|
First, the signing period only begins on Wednesday. It lasts until April 1. After that something there's something called a scholarship agreement. Pay attention, blue chippers.
A scholarship agreement merely guarantees if that recruit attends the offering school, he will receive a room, board and tuition. He is not bound to that school until he enrolls. That also means he can pursue -- and be recruited by -- other schools.
Why don't more of the top recruits take their time and use this tool? Great question. A lot of teenagers are caught up in the hype of announcing their school on TV. College coaches have them convinced that an offer might be pulled, that the scholarship might not be there.
A scholarship agreement puts the power back in the hands of the parents and recruits. The vibe I get every year is the process is too harried, too hurried. This is not the NFL Draft, it's a process, a life-changing process.
You've got time, kids. Use it.
Meanwhile, here are 25 recruiting tidbits to consider as another silly season comes to an end:
What team is No. 1?
Depending on your recruiting guru, it's either Notre Dame or Florida.
Charlie Weis worked long and hard to land a class with talent on both sides of the ball, including at least three five-star players. Being near the top is nothing new for Urban Meyer. The lowest Florida has finished under Meyer is No. 15 (rivals.com). That was his first season. Florida was No. 1 in rivals.com a year ago.
If not those two, then who?
In case you forgot, Nick Saban can recruit. The 28-man class includes two five-star studs -- Mobile linebacker Mark Barron and offensive tackle Tyler Love from Mountain Brook, Ala.
If Saban lands still-undecided receiver Julio Jones, 'Bama could be a consensus No. 1.
The return of Notre Dame
Weis is on the hot seat after a 3-9 season. On the recruiting trail, he's a god.
Last year, Good Time Charlie landed a top 10 class topped off by No. 1 recruit Jimmy Clausen. This year, Notre Dame got 10 top 100 commits, tying it with Ohio State, Florida and Oklahoma for the most.
Clausen, by the way, has some competition. Fellow Southern Californian Dayne Crist, the No. 2 pro-style quarterback, is in this class.
Will great recruiting save Weis if the Irish post another losing record in 2008? That will be one of the major questions going into next season.
For now, mark this down: " ... this class is sure to get Notre Dame back to the BCS," CSTV analyst Tom Lemming told the Chicago Tribune.
What player is No. 1?
If you don't know Jeannette, Pa. quarterback Terrelle Pryor is the best prospect in the country, you're watching too much college basketball.
The 6-foot-5 heir to Vince Young's throne is reportedly deciding between Ohio State and Michigan (both staffs showed up at his Saturday basketball game).
The kid is not rushing himself. He might delay his Wednesday announcement in order to clear his head (and perhaps make a visit to Oregon). The experts say Pryor can make all the throws and is a good runner. He would kick off Rich Rodriguez' first year at Michigan perfectly. Jim Tressel can wave Troy Smith's Heisman in front of Pryor.
Oregon? Offensive coordinator Chip Kelly can wave "almost" in front of Pryor. Dennis Dixon was going to win the Heisman last season, playing in Kelly's spread, until he got injured in November.
Rodriguez reportedly told Pryor he was leaving West Virginia before he told the Mountaineers.
Pryor, who had West Virginia as a finalist, immediately dropped the Mountaineers and added Michigan to his list.
If not Pryor, who is the absolute, no-brainer, slam dunk, sure-to-be star?
Just what Ohio State needs, another road-grading giant.
Dublin (OH) Coffman offensive tackle Mike Adams was rated the most agile lineman in the country by one service. More than impressive considering the top-five recruit is 6-foot-7, 308 pounds.
Is there a future Heisman Trophy winner hidden in this class?
Definitely. Suburban St. Louis quarterback Blaine Gabbert decommitted from Nebraska in November, pledging to Missouri. Considering Mizzou's offensive efficiency and that Chase Daniel is entering his senior season, Gabbert looks like he'll be handed the job in 2009.
The top three recruits in the country (CSTV.com) have taken the process down to the wire.
Pryor, Jones and running back Darrell Scott.
Pryor, you know about. Jones is the nation's No. 1 rated receiver who lists Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Scott is the nation's No. 1 running back who could pull the upset of signing day if he picks Colorado -- where his uncle Josh Smith plays -- over Texas.
Last minute, plus one
West Virginia quarterback Pat White began hyping his brother, Coley, before last season.
Coley White, also a quarterback, is also holding out until this week. Considering all the unofficial visits he has made to West Virginia to see his brother, it would be an upset if little bro doesn't end up in Morgantown where Pat will start 2008 as a Heisman favorite.
National champions update
Not much has changed at LSU since Saban closed the borders of the state.
Fifteen of the 25 players from Les Miles' latest class are from Louisiana. His best recruit so far is defensive back Patrick Johnson, who de-committed from Miami.
Miles has a top 10 class that could push into the top five by Wednesday.
Whatever happened to ...
Here's how the last five No. 1-ranked high school players have fared:
2003 -- Ernie Sims, LB, Florida State. Had a productive, but not spectacular, college career. Sims left after his junior year in 2005 and currently plays for the Detroit Lions.
2004 -- Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma. Arguably the greatest back in Oklahoma history despite an injury-plagued career. AD (All Day) finished second in Heisman Trophy voting as a freshman. He set the NFL single-game rushing record (296) in 2007 when he was named NFL Rookie of the Year.
2005 -- Derrick Williams, athlete, Penn State. One of the most sought-after recruits by Joe Paterno. A great athlete but has been somewhat underwhelming with four receiving touchdowns combined the past two seasons.
2006 -- Percy Harvin, WR, Florida. Next to Tim Tebow, probably the most important offensive player at Florida. One of the best receivers in the country and a salvation as a runner for Urban Meyer. Harvin has run for almost 1,200 yards in his first two seasons and remains one the nation's fastest players.
2007 -- Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame. Quickly became the starter, playing in 10 games, but for one of the worst offenses of 2007. Until he gets some help around him, final analysis will have to be withheld.
The class of 2009
It's been going on for years, schools getting commitments from high school juniors. But it's getting ridiculous at USC.
Pete Carroll already has a commitment from Matt Barkley, the top-ranked quarterback in the class of 2009.
You might remember the last two big names to come out of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei -- Matt Leinart and Colt Brennan.
The USC-Florida rivalry
For some reason, the two giants separated by 3,000 miles have gone head-to-head on big-time recruits.
Think Tebow (Florida), Mike Williams (USC) and Keith Rivers (USC) in recent years. Texas native Emmanuel Moody started at USC before transferring to Florida.
According to one recruiting service, at least six top players had the two schools on their list. Florida got commits from five of them -- including five-star recruits Carl Moore (Roseville, Calif. juco receiver), athlete Will Hill of Jersey City, N.J. and defensive tackle Omar Hunter of Buford, Ga.
C U L8R
That was the message -- text and otherwise -- sent by the NCAA last month. The association reaffirmed its text ban adopted last year.
Coaches had come to rely on texts as a way to constantly stay in touch with recruits. With face-to-face and phone contact limited, it was the real-time way to chat with recruits.
Text hounds like Urban Meyer decried the legislation. The NCAA thought otherwise. Coaches will adjust. It doesn't seem like a big deal. Don't most cell phones have e-mail capability?
Worst program with the best recruits
It has to be Minnesota which finished 1-11 in Tim Brewster's first season.
The coach then hit the road and landed a top 30 class. Among Minnesota's 32-man class are four jucos -- including Hines Ward-Antwaan Randle El-type David Pittman of Pasadena City College.
Brewster beat out the likes of Michigan, Oregon, Wisconsin and Illinois for four, four-star prep recruits that highlight the class.
How can Minnesota sign 32 when 25 is the limit? Because Brewster knows all 32 won't make it academically. More is better in recruiting, too. It happens everywhere. That's why God made junior colleges.
Now it remains to be seen if Brewster can coach up that talent.
Check your character before you check off at the line
Or, another cautionary tale about ignoring the hype.
Three years ago, Josh Portis was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. Urban Meyer had him locked down for Utah before taking the Florida job where Portis then signed.
Turns out Portis wasn't as good as he or his mother thought he was. Portis sat out 2006 while transferring to Maryland. Portis was then suspended for the 2007 season after he was caught cheating on a quiz.
Going into 2008, his fourth year out of high school, Portis has thrown 11 career passes. He will compete for the Terps job which seems to be locked down tightly by junior Chris Turner.
No doubt the Seattle Times' series on the 2000 Washington team is a negative for two programs, but it wasn't timed to be close to signing day.
There is no good time of year for these type of things. Was this series bad news for Slick Rick? Yes, in theory, but no in terms of recruiting. UCLA has a top 10 class. Even more surprising, it looks like Tyrone Willingham is going to get a top 25 class.
Sometimes the best recruits are the ones that fall in your lap.
Cincinnati Nation (if there is such a thing) is waiting on quarterback Ben Mauk's petition for an extra year of eligibility. Mauk missed the remainder of the 2006 season at Wake Forest after injuring his throwing shoulder and arm in the opener.
Taking advantage of a short-lived NCAA rule (since rescinded), Mauk was able to transfer immediately after that season to Cincinnati. Led by Mauk and his 31 touchdown passes, the Bearcats won 10 games for the first time in 50 years. Muddying the outlook is Mauk is petitioning for sixth year of eligibility. He redshirted at Wake in 2003.
Coach Brian Kelly is 50-50 on Mauk's chances. Notre Dame transfer Demetrius Jones and former Cincinnati starter Dustin Grutza also are on the roster.
Kelly has recruited two quarterbacks -- Brendon Kay from Marine City, Mich. and Travis Kelce from Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
But if Mauk gets his sixth year, he'd be a player of the decade candidate. On longevity alone.
If you can't get enough of overblown, overhyped commitment announcements by snot-nosed teenagers ...
The Under Armour All-American high school game in Orlando was added this offseason, competing with the U.S. Army All-Star Game in San Antonio.
Now there are two places you can go to watch the suspend build as Johnny plays a recruiting game of Three-Card Monte before picking the hat of his new school.
Best recruit since Brett Favre
No, DeAndre Brown might be the best Southern Miss recruit ever.
The five-star receiver from Ocean Springs, Miss. shocked the recruiting world when he picked the Golden Eagles. New head coach Larry Fedora beat, well, everyone in landing a key piece for his spread offense.
The 6-foot-6 receiver had offers from Tennessee, Texas Tech, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
Is Miami back?
Before we answer that, here's another question -- who is Arthur Brown?
Answer: The best player in a top 10 class assembled by Randy Shannon. Brown is a five-star linebacker from Wichita who was coveted by every program in the country.
If Brown and his teammates pan out then the answer to the first question is yes. For Shannon's sake, it had better be.
Who needs Wednesday the most?
No doubt the Big Ten. Ohio State has been dominated in two consecutive championship games. Michigan is changing coaches. The league really can't contradict claims that it is a step slow.
After not having a team in rivals.com's top 10 in 2007, the league is back, sort of. Ohio State should finish in the top 10.
Ranking the new coaches' first classes
(The top 10, according to rivals.com early in the week) UCLA Michigan Texas A&M Nebraska Southern Miss Mississippi Arkansas West Virginia Baylor Duke
Well-known recruiting terms you won't find in any dictionary
Decommit Soft verbal Grayshirt Dead period
Best wishes to ...
Northern Illinois. It is ranked by scout.com and rivals.com as having the worst Division I-A recruiting class.