Sports

Lighthall: Plenty to Love About National Signing Day

By: Jim Lighthall
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(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

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Christmas is coming early again. February 5th is circled on the calendar because that’s the day a bunch of 18- and 19-year old high schoolers take over the football landscape in this country.

With the Super Bowl freshly put in the books, and the NFL Scouting Combine still on the horizon, National Signing Day fills a void. You see, we crave football. Or anything even related to football.

Is it hokey?

Sure.

Is it overhyped?

Absolutely.

But is all we have?

Pretty much.

Fans and coaches think they know what their getting on Signing Day, but they won’t truly know until years later. Like a bunch of wrapped gifts on Christmas morning … what you think is a new video game system turns out to be socks. And that package you were sure was underwear turns out to be a box full of cash. In other words, there are plenty of busts amongst all those five-star players and plenty of gems that went unnoticed or under-recruited.

For college football fans it’s the annual restocking of the coffers. It’s what I love about college athletics. There’s always turnover. There’s no long-term contracts. Players stay on campus for a finite period of time – and some stay even shorter than others.

I don’t know all the names. I don’t know all their 40 times. I leave that up to the dozens of recruiting websites out there. But I do know this … I feel good every time I look at those national rankings and see my school jump up a spot or two.

What makes National Signing Day even more fun? All of those verbal commitments from the previous six months pretty much mean nothing. When a star recruit sits with three hats in front of them and you think you know which one he’s going to put on – you don’t really know.

Do networks make too big of a deal of National Signing Day? Or course they do. Do recruits keep coaches in suspense at a school-wide assembly before making a final decision? No doubt. Are players put on pedestals at too young of an age? You bet.

In the meantime, let me root for that last-second flip. Let me watch “Fax Cam.” And let me think that February 5th was (once again) the turning point in the history of a program.

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