The five biggest questions heading into National Signing Day.
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By the time you wake up tomorrow morning, the madness will have already begun.
Tomorrow – February 6, 2013 – is the biggest date on the college football recruiting calendar. Some would argue that it’s the biggest single day on the college football calendar as a whole. I’m not one of those people – it’s important, but not bigger than, you know, the actual games – but it is most certainly one of the dates that every college football fan has circled.
Across the state and across the nation, recruits will put pens to paper and sign their National Letters of Intent, declaring their intention to play football at a certain school. They will follow that up by faxing – yes, it’s a big day for fax machines, because it’s 1992 – that letter to the school, and at that point (and only at that point) does a school have a signee.
If you think about it, it’s a mega-sized day for us here at Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. High school football and college football in Texas are our things, and National Signing Day is the ultimate blend of those two levels. It’s a big day for every high school in the state, and it’s a big day for every college in the state; that means it’s a huge day for us.
(And don’t worry: we’ve got your covered tomorrow. Make sure that our Signing Day HQ is your Signing Day one-stop shop. It’ll get cracking early tomorrow morning. And then, be on the lookout for our special DCTF Recruiting Edition, a digital-only production available in our app. But more about that tomorrow.)
But here we are, less than 24 hours before the madness begins, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Here are the five biggest questions we’re dying to know the answers to come Signing Day.
1) Can A&M hold on to its mega-class?
The story of the recruiting season in Texas, without a doubt, has been the incredible class that Texas A&M has put together. Just look at that list. It’s got everything you could want in a class: skill positions (Laquivionte Gonzalez and Ricky Seals-Jones chief among them), a jaw-dropping defensive line group (led by Isaiah Golden and Justin Manning), some terrific linebackers (Jordan Mastrogiovianni and Reggie Chevis, for example) and more. The class is huge thanks to a number of different factors, like A&M’s small 2012 class, and deep thanks to Kevin Sumlin and the obvious upward trend of the program. But Signing Day brings…wackiness, and there’s no guarantee that all of the players currently verbally committed to the Aggies will sign there. Remember: verbal agreements are non-binding. Nothing matters until they put pen to paper. Keep an eye on Southlake Carroll QB Kenny Hill in particular, pull a late switch. But even if A&M only gets 75% of their recruits, it’s still an embarrassment of riches.
2) Where will the best uncommitted players in Texas land?
Sure, most of the blue chip prospects across the Lone Star State have made some sort of pledge (whether they hold that verbal commitment is another matter). But not every top recruit in Texas has pledged out, and there are plenty of announcements that will be made tomorrow. Of particular interest to us among the uncommitted recruits in Texas…
Fort Worth Arlington Heights DT A’Shawn Robinson: The dominating defensive lineman is one of the very best recruits in the state (and maybe the nation), and just decommitted from Texas. Alabama is reportedly the favorite.
Waco OL Andrew Billings: A member of our All-Texas High School team, Billings will reportedly announce today whether he will go to Baylor, TCU or Texas.
Lake Travis QB Baker Mayfield: He led the Cavs to an unprecedented fifth straight state title in 2013; now, he’ll choose between Rice, Washington State and Florida Atlantic.
John Tyler DE Tyus Bowser: There weren’t too many more dominating defensive linemen in the postseason than Bowser, and the recent Oklahoma State decommit is reportedly deciding between Okie State, Texas Tech, Missouri and West Virginia.
3) What does the day hold for Texas?
It’s been a recruiting season of mixed results for the Longhorns. There are an awful lot of great players committed to play for Mack Brown’s squad – guys like Jesuit WR Jake Oliver, Celina OL/DL Jake Raulerson and Killeen Harker Heights OL Darius James. But there have also been their fair share of setbacks – decommitments from the likes of Sealy’s Ricky Seals-Jones (only to subsequently commit to rival A&M) and Fort Worth Arlington Heights’ A’Shawn Robinson, and losing out on the sweepstakes for DeSoto RB Dontre Wilson (who committed to Ohio State last night), have taken a bit of the shine off of the Longhorns’ 2013 class. Barring something crazy, for the first time in a while, the Longhorns won’t have the state’s best recruiting class (that’s A&M’s title to lose). Signing Day success for Texas would be holding on to their current verbal commitments and maybe snagging a surprise or two.
4) Can Houston pull another Signing Day shocker?
Last year, one of the surprising winners on Signing Day was Houston. Just weeks after losing coach Kevin Sumlin and promoting Tony Levine to head coach, the Coogs had had a Signing Day for the ages, picking off blue chip WR Deontay Greenberry from Notre Dame and getting local products Donald Hopkins from Lago Vista and William Jackson from Houston Wheatley. Now, Houston’s class as it is laid out right now is good-not-great; folks like newly committed Lancaster ATH DeMarcus Ayers, Spring Dekaney’s D’Juan Hines and Giddings RB Joseph Glenn give the Coogs some nice verbals. Does Levine have another ace up his sleeve this year?
5) What impact will the new coaches have?
Here are some things we know for sure (besides what we’ve already mentioned): Art Briles at Baylor is going to get some explosive weapons on offense; Gary Patterson is going to get some great defenders to TCU; and Rice, SMU, North Texas, Texas State and UTSA are going to pick up some surprising recruits. But there are some wild cards this time around, with Kliff Kingsbury taking over at Texas Tech and Sean Kugler taking the reins at UTEP. Both have already made their presence felt – Kingsbury lured in Munday ATH Dee Paul and Sherman LB Kahlee Woods, while UTEP sealed the borders to bring in El Paso Franklin OL Derek Elmendorff and superstar El Paso Burges RB Aaron Jones. But what will the coaches’ first National Signing Day as a head coach look like? Do Kingsbury and Kugler have any surprises in store?
Oh, and one more thing...
There are a lot of questions going into tomorrow, but here’s one thing I think we can all agree on (and is a pet peeve of mine):
Tomorrow is a special day for hundreds of kids across the state and thousands across the nation. Unless you are a high school football player, tomorrow is not about you. It’s a big decision – the biggest decision of their 18-year-old lives – and you are not in a position to criticize it. Just because a player doesn’t pick your favorite team does not give you an excuse to berate or belittle him. That makes you a jerk-wad.
Don’t be a jerk-wad.
Happy Signing Day, everyone!
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.