Wednesday is one of the biggest days for college football teams. It’s National Signing Day, and the nation’s top high school players sign on the dotted line where they will be playing for the next few years.
The great ones usually don’t make it the entire four years, heading off to the NFL after their junior seasons to pursue fame and fortune. There are exceptions like Tim Tebow, who played at Florida four seasons, and Southern Cal’s Matt Barkley, who is returning for this senior campaign this coming fall.
It’s amazing to me how much media and fan attention these 18 year olds receive just for letting people know where they will be attending school. Many of the members of this year’s class made their choices known on ESPN during the Under Armor All-America game earlier this month, but those were only commitments and won’t be official until the players sign the scholarship papers, unless, of course, they already have enrolled at their school of choice.
As we all know, Georgia is a hot bed for college football talent. According to the research of Steve Slay, who is from Tucker and now lives in Florida, there were more than 3,000 Georgians on college football rosters this past fall. That takes into consideration junior colleges all the way up to the Division I level. Included in those figures were 18 each from Warner Robins, Northside and Peach County, 14 each from Baldwin and Dublin, 12 from Houston County and 11 each from Westside and Perry.
There were 184 players from the Peach State to sign national letters-of-intent with FBS programs in 2011, and I am sure there will be close to that number again this year even though this year’s class is considered less talented. That was the fourth highest figure in the nation last year, trailing Texas with 399, Florida with 357 and California with 339. Ohio was the only other state in triple digits with 145.
At the other end of the spectrum you find states such as Oregon, Nebraska and West Virginia, which all have schools that field top-25 teams. Oregon had just 13 Division I signees last year while Nebraska had nine and West Virginia just two. Nebraska and West Virginia have no in-state commitments this year, and Oregon has only one. There is the belief that teams win with home-grown talent, but that is not the case in those states.
But at schools like Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Texas that certainly holds true. Georgia’s 2011 roster consisted of 119 players, with 97 of those home grown. Georgia Tech, which also with 119 players listed, had 77 from Georgia. Texas had a 110-man roster with 103 from the Lone Star State while national champion Alabama had 57 from that state of the 119 players on its team.
Of the Bulldogs’ 25 freshman signees last year on their “dream team,” 19 were from Georgia, while at Georgia Tech, 10 of its 22 came from within the state’s borders. This year’s commitments include 10 of 17 Georgia state high school players at Georgia and eight of 17 at Georgia Tech.
Teams throughout the nation recruit in the state of Georgia, and this year you will find players headed to Stanford, Miami, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi, UCLA, South Carolina, LSU and Alabama among others. The Crimson Tide have especially found fertile recruiting ground in the state as they have eight commitments to go with 14 Georgians on their roster this past season.
Contact Bobby Pope at email@example.com