I love college football. You can all caps that emotive verb if you’d like: I LOVE it. When I’m on the sideline home or road and I see the teams come out of the tunnel with the band and the students and the vibe and AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! Love it.
So on days like today — National Signing Day — I get all fired up to see whose headed to UB Stadium and the Big House, who’ll be an Aztec or a Spartan. Yep, I get all fired up for about 10 minutes.
Sure the kids committing on ESPN have a significant chance of being major impact players at Bama, Ohio State and FSU, but the larger truth remains that these major networks know less about these kids prospects than you’d think, in particular if you’re a fan of a non-BCS program. Examine UB’s best scored prospects from UB from 2008-10:
77: CB Carlos Lammons (09), RB James Potts (10)
76: C Rick Perez (09), WR Cordero Dixon (10)
74: DT Matt Hornbuckle (09), OT Jeremy Johnson (09), QB Alex Zordich (10)
72: DT Joel Wilson (08), OLB Dalonte Wallace (08)
71: ILB Dustin Tait (08), S Okoye Houston (10)
By my count, only six of those players wore the blue and white in front of me. Half or less of that number started a game. Granted there’s still time for those classes, but the fact is that those names either come from pedigree schools, families or states. They are getting love because of who is recruiting them and maybe even how they look in the one game versus high school players. This all goes without saying the hijinx we’ve seen involving recruiting “coordinators” at high schools who are essentially guys looking for finder’s fees (You don’t have to picture Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale standing above a high school gym, but you may if it pleases you).
Compare those 70+ numbers to these commits who received a rating of 40 from ESPN: QB Zach Maynard (08), DE Steven Means (08), OG Graham Whinery (08), LB Khalil Mack (09), OG Jasen Carlsen (10), Colby Way (10).
So when you see that UB signed a 76 OT from Michigan that was sought after by San Diego State, Michigan State and Army, that truly could be a legit boon for the Bulls (and here’s hoping Robert Riche is just that!). But it’s also just as likely that 45-rated OT Dan Collura from Dematha will go beast mode for the Bulls.
The point is even ESPN hasn’t reached a point where it can afford to pay “scouts” to really look into the majority of big-time prospects. Heck, Branden Oliver is shaping up to be UB’s best offensive threat ever and was “just” a 65. Mack may already be infringing on Davonte Shannon’s claims on the defensive side of the ball, and he was a 40.
Signing Day is great. It gives us college ball in February… but that’s about it. Bring on Spring ball, and then the Bulls at Georgia in about a half-year’s time.
Extra credit: examples of good scouting!