Roquan Smith is a phenomenal athlete.
Make double-digit tackles in the same game you return a kick for a touchdown or an interception 100 yards for a touchdown or rush for 263 yards, and no, phenomenal isn’t hyperbole.
He’s a personable young man, a bright teenager from a good family.
And here’s hoping he is a trend-setting, a policy-changer, a process-improver. Let’s hope he has helped change the monstrosity called “National Signing Day” forever and for the better.
It wouldn’t be hard to do. Anything that puts it in remotely better perspective, while lessening the pressure on 17-year-olds and yes, the big-money coaches, and decreases the remarkable and sad stalking of those 17-year-olds is a good thing.
Perhaps it’ll slow down the schizophrenia of the stalkers.
Pick their team and get love wives wish they had.
“Great to have, you brilliant and gutty kid I’ve never seen play or heard of before three days ago who fits in with our more-special-than-all-others program, and you’ll be perfect here in Heaven, where we’ll love you forever, because that’s just how great we all are here.”
Waffle a little.
“Come on, it’s not that hard. We are unbelievable in everything, unlike everybody else. You know you want to come here.”
Change your mind.
“Good riddance. If you’re not smarter than that, you belong over there with the other cheaters.”
I’ve had this dream of Smith’s announcement.
“I liked a lot about all of the schools I considered and many of the people I dealt with. But my decision in the end was based on the fan base that displayed the least venom, immaturity, racism, ignorance, stupidity and cowardice.”
And then listen as coaches grimace in defeat and fan bases tiptoe quietly backward. Smith’s announcement, minus such a statement, on Friday will be nice and uneventful.
Another dream is that Nick Saban corrals his colleagues in Destin, Florida, in a few months, and they discuss how to change this whole thing.
One way is to withhold sustenance from the beast, also known as fan bases, and slowly start to treat it for what it is: teenagers those fans have never seen or heard of signing a piece of paper. One thing the fans and recruits have in common -- neither has been in a college uniform, so until that actually changes ...
Is anybody keeping ticket offices open later on signing day? No, because there are no tickets available for most of the top 40 programs that will make most recruiting rankings anyway. So let’s lessen the perceived PR value and thus the overwhelming pressure.
One simple statement sort of covers it: “You’ll like us when we win.”
Sure, turn the day into an offseason tailgating/socializing event, as some do. Maybe that will transfer obsession into just enjoying your team and the game and moving on, leaving the players alone and letting coaches get on with real work rather than the part of the process nearly every coach involved hates.
It’s hard to figure out what an early signing period will do except put more pressure on these young men to make a decision earlier than they want and before they’ve thoroughly looked at schools and programs and situations.
The decision is hard enough without rushing it. And then there’s the wailing about waiting to sign a player to make sure he’s really good enough, just adding to the massive gamble that it is anyway.
And do we need to have two sets of guesstimation or rankings? Three? That’s another tirade.
Reaction to Smith’s situation has been national. Never has the word “Montezuma” been mentioned so much without “revenge” in the same verbal paragraph. It’s opening eyes to the deceit, the pressure, the confusion, the need for changes to help both sides, the players and the colleges.
Let us pray for a different script within the next few years, before Smith is done playing wherever he’s playing.
The best part of signing day is ignored by the masses: the gathering in a gym or a quiet library where a player’s life can begin to change. Watch the faces of parents, especially in families where college has been beyond a dream.
That’s really what it’s about, the opportunity to better one’s life -- the player, not the 50-year-old at a keyboard -- more than expected.
No matter his choice, I’ll be pulling for Smith and hoping he remains a phenomenal athlete, a personable young man and a bright teenager who becomes a Heisman finalist.
May his impact be greater from how he handled a messy process.
Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or firstname.lastname@example.org