No Show For No. 1

This post-National Signing Day signing nonsense has to go.

For the fourth year in a row, the nation’s top recruit will not put pen to paper on National Signing Day. In 2008, it was Terrelle Pryor and his flirtation with Penn State. Or Oregon. Or Michigan. Who knows? In 2009, Bryce Brown's poor decisions came back to haunt him. He allowed the selfish agenda of an adult mentor to possibly ruin his future. Last season, football fans in Columbus watched as the nation’s top player shunned the Buckeyes long after National Signing Day for USC Cardinal and Gold. Of course, that didn’t last long, as only weeks later the NCAA pushed Seantrel Henderson 3,000-miles away to Coral Gables, Fla. with heavy-handed sanctions.

In fact, the only No. 1 prospect over the last four years not to extend his recruitment simply because he can, was USC quarterback Matt Barkley. (Brown was No. 1 by some sites, but was actually No. 2 to Barkley in the AC100.) He is one year of good football away from being a first-round NFL Draft pick and he spent 11 days of his Christmas break with his family visiting orphans, villagers, widows and prisoners in the Nigerian city of Jos. Pryor is suspended for five games this fall and Brown sat out of football this year.

Many are calling Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney the best defensive end in decades. His talents are unparalleled. And there is no argument from Athlon Sports. He was rated the No. 1 prospect in America by all seven recruiting services used to rank prospects in the Athlon Consensus 100. (Quick, name seven full-time recruiting services?) Of course, his absurd 29.5 sacks, silly 11 forced fumbles and no-brainer South Carolina Mr. Football Award pretty much slam that door shut.

Yet, college football fans will flock by the thousands to message boards – particularly in Tuscaloosa and Columbia – to find out where Clowney will play his football for the next four (or three) years. Pulling this primadona stunt has clearly proven not to be the right coarse of action. Because the truth is, he really is that good. He really could be the best defensive end prospect since The Minister of Defense headed to Rocky Top.

Certainly, that is a lot of pressure for some blogger to heap upon a young teenager. But that is the price you pay when you decide you are better than everyone else - even if you actually are better than everyone else.

Maybe it is the price we pay as fans - or media members - for making 17-year-old kids famous before they are ready to handle the spotlight.

My advice? Act you like have been there before, sign your papers and get to work.

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