Teenagers are complicated, fickle, naive creatures who seldom have any perspective on the trappings of adult life. It’s why uniform colors, shoes, weather, license plates and even a coin flip have been used to select a university in the recent past. Don’t expect National Signing Day 2013 to be much different.
Auburn (Ala.) linebacker Reuben Foster is one of the nation's elite prospects and his recruitment has been a wild ride back and forth across the state of Alabama. Once an Alabama verbal pledge, Foster decommitted from the Crimson Tide and picked the Auburn Tigers, getting a War Eagle tattoo to prove his dedication. There is only one problem, however, as Foster decommitted again. He is now poised to picked between Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Washington and South Carolina.
Consensus No. 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche may have potential for Signing Day drama, too. He committed to Clemson early, but he's considering Ole Miss, where is brother plays linebacker. All the while, his parents have been vocal through the recruiting process.
National Signing Day is an exciting time for coaches, recruits and fans, but it also ends up being one of the most bizarre days of the year in college football. Here's why:
The forged signature
Mothers and sons don't always see eye to eye in the recruiting process, though few moms would have gone as far as Floyd Raven's. Reserve (La.) East St. John defensive back Floyd Raven had decided Texas A&M was the right school for him. Only one issue: his letter of intent had already been sent to Ole Miss. The Rebels admissions department couldn’t read the signature and asked for a second copy. Raven’s mother wanted him to go to Ole Miss so badly she forged the signature and sent it to Oxford without her son’s knowledge. Eventually, Floyd learned of his mother’s forgery and sent the appropriately signed paperwork to Texas A&M.
The coin flip
It takes thousands of hours of labor and thousands of dollars to recruit athletes at the highest level. But in 2009, Atco (N.J.) Winsow Township linebacker Ka’Lial Glaud trimmed the entire process to a few cents. After taking five school-funded official visits, Glaud had narrowed his list to West Virginia and Rutgers. But the linebacker was still so torn he couldn’t make up his mind. So naturally, he decided to let chance decide his fate as he literally flipped a coin between the two programs. Heads he goes to WVU, tails he goes to Rutgers. He has posted 47 total tackles in three seasons for the Scarlet Knights.
Deontay Greenberry's cold shoulder
Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union wide receiver Deontay Greenberry was the No. 52 player in the nation last season. He was a long-time Notre Dame commitment whose best friend and cousin, fellow Athlon Consensus 100 talent Tee Shepard, had already enrolled in class in South Bend weeks prior to NSD. All signs pointed to the duo continuing their friendship on the football field as Irish teammates. But after a very late visit to the Houston Cougars, Greenberry pulled the biggest shocker of National Signing Day '12 by signing with the Conference USA program. The 6-3, 190-pound wideout is the first AC100 signee in Cougars’ program history and the Twittersphere gasped when his LOI arrived in Houston.
There was just one problem, Greenberry never told Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly or anyone in South Bend his faxed LOI had been sent to Houston. Kelly was as shocked as anyone at the news. Kelly may regret letting his emotions get the better of him with this commentary on Greenberry: "I used to have a saying about players like that, and that was I'd rather play against him for four games than with him for four years." Sounds an awful lot like message board trolls who scream sour grapes when star recruits sign elsewhere.
Landon Collins boisterous Mom
The 2012 cycle provided one of the most bizarre public announcements ever witnessed. Geismar (La.) Dutchtown safety Landon Collins, the No. 21-rated player in the Athlon Consensus 100, announced on national television for Alabama much to the chagrin of his mother, April Justin. Justin, moments after her son committed to the Tide, was not only visibly upset but openly cheered for LSU:
"I feel like LSU is a better place for him to be," Justin said at the time. "LSU Tigers, No. 1. Go Tigers.”
But Mama didn't go down without a fight as she has accused Nick Saban and Alabama of a recruiting violation, claiming that Collins' girlfriend at the time was given a job at the University.
The imaginary scholarship
As bizarre as the Collins’ girlfriend-mother feud is, nothing compares to Kevin Hart’s story. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman at Fernely (Nev.) High wanted so badly to play college football he wrote his own fairytale ending complete with press conference. On Feb. 1, 2008, Hart held a press conference at his high school complete with hats lined up on a table in which he picked Cal over Oregon. “Coach Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind gave me that real personal experience,” Hart said at the announcement.
There was only one problem: Jeff Tedford had never spoken to, visited or contacted Hart. Neither had Oregon, Washington or Oklahoma State, his other finalists, for that matter. Eventually, Hart admitted the entire recruitment was fictitious and apologized to all parties involved.
The announcement props
Commitment announcements tend to be more spectacle than substance. Rarely does a recruit offer any pertinent news or information other than his college of choice. Every now and then, however, if done with style, an announcement can be fun – or infuriating. Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell made fans coo when he pulled out a live Bulldog puppy in 2011 to signify his decision to play for Mark Richt in Athens. Andre Smith sent the Crimson Tiders into hysterics when he pulled out the houndstooth hat at his announcement for Alabama.
But Antonio Logan-El’s live announcement in 2006 was met with a slightly harsher response. The Forestville (Md.) High offensive lineman had been committed to Maryland for the better part of a year. While dressed in Maryland red in front of a Terps crowd at the ESPN Sportszone in Maryland — including head coach Ralph Friedgen’s wife — Logan-El first pulled out a Florida hat before tossing it to the ground. He then pulled out a Tennessee hat. That, too, was tossed aside before picking up the Terps black and red headgear. After a few nice words, Logan-El threw his Maryland hat to the ground and held up a picture of Joe Paterno and announced he would be heading to Penn State. The decision was met with screams of “traitor” and violence nearly resulted. Logan-El, much to the pleasure of Terps fans, washed out at Penn State after only one redshirt year.
At least he actually made a decision, however, as the worst recruiting press conference in history belongs to Greg Little. The peculiar wide receiver held a press conference in October of his senior year to announce what school he would be attending. Fans waited with anticipation while Little huddled with his family and coaches for a long period of time. He emerged from the mini-summit to announce that he had narrowed his list to Notre Dame and North Carolina. It’s the rare news conference where a recruit officially announced that there was nothing to announce.
The five-minute flip-flop
Flip-flops happen in recruiting all the time – especially, as National Signing Day draws near. The recruiting picture gets clearer for all parties involved, while schools get desperate to fill needs with late scholarship offers. The nation’s No. 2 player in 2011, however, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, made heads spin in record time last year. Kouandjio, whose older brother was/is a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, announced on ESPN he would be attend Auburn. Yet, five minutes after the bright TV lights had gone out, the younger Kouandjio, recanted his pledge to Auburn. He never sent in his letter of intent to the Tigers and three days later it was revealed he had officially signed with Alabama via Twitter. Longtime commitments are snaked away at the last minute every season, but never has a kid committed on national television only to decide to sign with someone else five minutes later. The venom of the Yellow Hammer rivalry only added to the drama of the Kouandjio signing.
What Fred wanna do?
A kid referring to himself in third person and taking liberties with the English language is always radio gold. On Sirius Satellite Radio, five-star wide receiver recruit Fred Rouse he was asked: Where are you going to college? Rouse responded with “You know, a lot of people want me to go here or there. But I had to think, you know, 'what Fred wanna do?' And Fred want to go to Florida State.” Unfortunately, his career wasn’t nearly as entertaining on the football field as it was on the radio.
The slimy mentor
The most recent trend for elite recruits is to wait until after National Signing Day to make a decision. Terrelle Pryor, Orson Charles, Latwan Anderson, Vidal Hazelton, Seantrel Henderson, Kouandjio and 2011 top prospect Jadeveon Clowney all signed their LOIs well past signing day. But Wichita (Kan.) East running back Bryce Brown, and his handler/mentor/coach Brian Butler, set a new low for recruiting sludge.
Brown, whose older brother Arthur was enrolled at Miami, had been committed to the Hurricanes from the early stages. He did not sign on Signing Day and instead took extra visits to Tennessee and LSU after Signing Day. While Brown watched the calendar flip to March without a decision, Butler, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge for forgery in 1997, set up a website in order to charge $9.99 per month for recruiting updates on his protégé.
Threats from Butler about Brown potentially skipping college for the Canadian Football League only further exemplified how ridiculous the handler’s influence was over Brown. Meanwhile, Miami (and others) stopped recruiting the troubled tailback until halfway through March, when Brown got “a sign from God” to sign with Tennessee. Arthur left Miami for Kansas State (where he became a star for two seasons) shortly thereafter. Bryce lasted one year in Knoxville before transferring back to Kansas State as well. He played in two games in 2011, got three carries and then declared for the 2012 NFL Draft.
Who knows what National Signing Day 2013 will bring. Will Foster stay in the Yellowhammer State or go 2,000 miles to Seattle? Will Robert Nkemdiche sign with Ole Miss to be with his brother? Will Jalen Ramsey stay put with the Trojans or make a last second flip?
Love or hate the press conferences and high-profile visibility of high school students, National Signing Day has become appointment viewing for all college football fans and NSD 2013 should be just as exciting as all the rest.
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