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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Gripping Signing Day drama? Just follow Twitter

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As the National Letters of Intent came rolling in Wednesday -- NLIs, the recruitniks call them -- it was clear this wasn't just another National Signing Day.

NSD, the prep honks call it.

There was a buzz, and it wasn't from that prehistoric contraption they call a facsimile machine. No, those NLIs on NSD were rolling in before our eyes in real time.

On Twitter.

Forget the social network (even The Social Network). Our newer, faster, more urgent friend needs its own movie after Wednesday's performance. For those of us stuck in hotel prison without CBS College Sports Network on Wednesday, Twitter reached a new level of coolness. If you were following the right people, you would watch the whole thing unfold before you.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was a key contributor. There was a palpable bounce when Kelly tweeted that big-time defensive end Stephon Tuitt had signed his letter. For example: "Smith, Jones, Sims, all in," Kelly would tweet. I didn't know Smith from Jones but found myself entranced.

If a long-time skeptic of the recruiting "science" was hooked, what was happening beyond Room 140 in the Courtyard? There, detailed in 140 characters or less, were the last-minute changes of heart -- the "flips", that's Al Golden's term.

All credit should go to the CBSSports.com bloggers and editors Wednesday too, for a fantastic job. All of it worked for me.

The schools, the coaches, the conferences, the tweeters were creating their own sub-network of recruiting news. Kelly, in particular, knew how to work the system. He wrote short, punchy updates. If it got me fired up, wanting to know more, think what it did for the uncommitted prospect. Not just on Wednesday, in 2012 and beyond.

Kelly was subtly selling his program with urgency. The message: You better get on board. Room on the bandwagon is running out. Whether that's true or not, Kelly had created the impression that it was. Call it twurgency.

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Remember when radio was theater of the mind? This was short-attention span theater for the get-a-lifers. Recruiting for dummies. If you stuck around long enough, all you needed was a bib to catch the drool and a snow day. For most of the nation, it seemed, the weather cooperated.

Via Twitter, we found out about Auburn signee Gabe Wright. Upon pledging to the Tigers, the top-five defensive tackle quipped, "Nick who?" That caused a recruiting stir not seen since Cecil Newton began auctioning off his son.

Nick who? Did Wright mean Saban, the Alabama coach or Fairley, the Tigers All-American defensive tackle? Either way it was a verbal punch to the groin in a region that treats Wednesday like a high holy day. Fairley eliminated all suspense, and consternation -- I think -- when he tweeted, "I LIKE IT GABE! Nick Who? That's creative! WDE!"

(WDE is yet another abbreviation that stands for "War Damn Eagle." See how easy it is to squeeze in those 140 characters?)

Isaiah Crowell created the signature moment of NSD. Upon committing to Georgia, he produced a bulldog puppy complete in what looked like a mini-Georgia jersey. If A.J. Green were around, he would have sold it. The jersey, not the puppy, which by the way was cute, cuddly and precedent-setting in the recruiting world of the utterly absurd. Twitter, understandably, exploded.

Somewhere, Jimmy Clausen was blushing.

It's clear that we're waaay past the fax machine era. Someday soon the NCAA is going to allow everyone to scan and e-mail those NLIs. But as long as faxes still exist so will Washington's "fax cam." Yes, Huskies fans were able to actually watch the letters come in if they punched in the right URL. Clearly, someone at U-Dub has jumped the Sark.

Winners from Wednesday? Gene Chizik served notice that his national championships weren't going away by landing a surprisingly strong class. Clemson rallied late with linebackers Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony. Florida State got a late commit from defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, propelling Jimbo Fisher into the recruiting stratosphere in only his second year as a head coach.

The day wouldn't be complete without one final nod to The 140 Character. Thanks to TweetDeck, we also learned that Wake Forest was certainly blessed. It got a commitment from God's Power Offor, a Nigeria native.

Among Wednesday's losers was the Big Ten Network. The BTN delayed its Signing Day coverage until Thursday because of the blizzard that hit Chicago. Way to lose ratings, guys. Ever hear of snowmobiles? It's all good, though. While you're behind, we're informed. We got to experience Johnny Fortytime sign up through magic of the tweet right there on our screens.

Notice to Jesse Eisenberg: You might want to follow ND's BK on NSD. You could end up playing him in the "Twitter The Movie."


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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