[This is an excerpt from the Dec. 18 issue of Yahoo Sports’ Read & React newsletter. To get the newsletter delivered to your inbox free every weekday morning, subscribe here.]
So it’s National Signing Day, the day when the sports world’s attention turns to high school cafeterias across this great land. It’s the day when your school’s going to pick up that recruit that’s going to take your football team over the top, promise. It’s also the day when there are bad decisions on all fronts, from recruits to way-too-overzealous fans. Allow me to help you step through this minefield:
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DO understand what today is all about. This is the first day when highly recruited high school seniors can announce which college they’ll suit up for next fall. It’s a reward for a lifetime’s worth of hard work, a time when these players get to feel the love of their entire school. It’s their moment, and it’s OK to feel happy for these kids.
DON’T think too hard about the long-term damage that could come from giving 17-year-olds this kind of attention (see: Michigan, above), putting them on national TV and opening them up to torrents of criticism from arrested-development adults who base way too much of their identity on the ebbs and flows of a college they may not have even attended. Don’t think about the array of hangers-on that will slither up to these kids, and don’t think about the fact that these kids are going to be making a lot of people a lot of money while getting none — legitimately, at least — themselves.
DO dream about how that blurred-lines speedster is going to transform your offense, how that human cinderblock is going to anchor your defense. As long as you can keep a little bit of perspective, National Signing Day is one long cheap, risk-free high, a hope that won’t be crushed until your team plays Alabama this fall.
DON’T freak out if you don’t get that one five-star recruit. The current Rivals 100 lists 33 players as five-star recruits. These are, quite literally, the equivalent of first-round draft picks; there are 32 such picks in the NFL. But there are also 11 players on the field at any time for football teams — really, it’s true, I counted — and if you miss out on that one guy, the odds that he alone will be responsible for your team cratering are small.
DO freak out if you don’t get any five-stars. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that your Alabamas, your Clemsons, your Georgias have gotten to the levels they’re at by stockpiling those five-stars. As our Dan Wetzel notes, of those 33 five-stars, 22 are destined for just five schools: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and LSU. Any team this side of the Cleveland Browns would win a Super Bowl with a few years of five first-round draft picks, and that’s what the big schools do every year. If your best recruit is a scrappy three-star, well … don’t get too attached to your current coaching staff.
DO enjoy the names. It’ll be tough for any of this year’s recruits to outdo immortals like Kobe Buffalomeat (2017), Rachad Wildgoose (2018), and Storm Duck (2019), but we have faith that the parents of 2002 bestowed some applause-worthy names on the recruits of 2020. Here’s last year’s list of the best.
A few tips for recruits:
DON’T burn bridges before you’ve even crossed them. I get it, you’re excited to join a team. Congrats! But remember: you’re not on the team yet, and you damn sure haven’t earned the right to trash a rival that doesn’t even know you exist. If you commit to Michigan and wipe your butt with an Ohio State cap, if you commit to Alabama and grind your foot on an Auburn cap … guess what, those folks are going to remember you. And they have very long memories, much longer than any college career.
DO go big … but maybe not as big as Kevin Hart. You may remember the non-comedian Kevin Hart — back in
2012 2008, he perpetrated the greatest Signing Day prank/goof/scam ever. He announced that he was committing to UC-Berkeley over Oregon. One problem: nobody ever recruited him. He made it all up. Hell of a story, though.
DON’T make your momma mad. Many’s the recruit who waited until the very last minute to decide what hat to select, and hoo boy, woe to you if you don’t pick the school momma wanted for her beautiful baby boy:
Finally, and most importantly:
DON’T tweet at recruits. Never ever ever. Not to encourage them, not to congratulate them, and not to berate them when they pick your rival. Remember: tweets are admissible as evidence in any trial, now and in the future. Don’t do it.
Happy Signing Day, everybody!
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