National Signing Day always features drama

sports@macon.comFebruary 4, 2014 

Wednesday is one of the craziest days of the sports year. It’s the day when hardcore college football fans sit in front of their computer and hit refresh over and over to get the latest scoop on the future players for their favorite team.

It’s National Signing Day. It’s the day when high school prospects who are more known for the stars by their name on a recruiting list sign on the dotted line to play college football.

Back before the Internet, we had to rely on magazines that would come out in late December and rank the players. Jeff Whitaker and Forest Davis had the two most prominent magazines, and if you were fortunate, you might receive a fax from Max Emfinger.

Of course, if you were really nuts, you might even go out to your car and listen to Bill King and Bob Bell on WLAC out of Nashville. Yes, I did that, and I know others who were crazy enough to do it too.

But now we know right after the player makes up his mind. Twitter is the instant news source, allowing reporters to not have to wait on a deadline for the next day’s paper and instead get the scoop out immediately.

Somewhere along the way, I gave up being a recruitnik. Yes, that’s the term for the maniacs who follow recruiting religiously. It got too complicated keeping up with high school seniors who were all about potential and too many times would wind up disappointing you, only because you probably had too high expectations for them in the first place.

It’s still fun to see what happens on National Signing Day, but after months of hearing about verbal commitments, decommitments and recommitments, it’s a lot easier to casually monitor the day’s events when things are official.

There is one signing day class for Georgia that stands out as perhaps the reason I gave up following this nonsense so closely. In 1991, the Bulldogs grabbed the commitment from Eric Zeier, a hotshot quarterback from Marietta.

To complement Zeier, head coach Ray Goff signed five highly rated offensive linemen: Chad Chosewood, Mike Fredenburg, Steve Gates, Paul Taylor and David Weeks. All five players had four or five stars or ratings of 9.50 or higher or whatever other designation to show how much potential they all had.

But as a group, the players were huge disappointments. Sure, Taylor and Weeks started a good bit, but even they weren’t the dominant linemen they were expected to be when they signed.

Maybe if those five had all lived up to expectations, Georgia would have had better results in the Zeier era. And who knows, perhaps even Goff would have had a longer career as Georgia’s head coach.

There have been others who have been highly rated coming out of high school and flopped. We could probably list players for every program from every year who never really turned the corner.

This is the hot stove league of college football -- the time when teams can get new talent in and hope they can make an instant impact. At some point Wednesday you may be excited about a particular player’s potential, but don’t be shocked if in a few years you’ll be asking, “Whatever happened to that guy?” Then you’ll wonder how a five-star prospect was only a one-star player.

And you might even wonder how a three-star prospect turned into a Heisman Trophy winner.

That’s recruiting. It’s why we love it, and it’s why we’ll be glued to the computer all day. Forgive us for our craziness, but this is college football. It’s normal for fans to act irrational once in a while, and there’s no more proof than the drama that will unfold Wednesday.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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