The annual lottery known as National Signing Day concluded Wednesday with lots of rankings, pronouncements and lists of hits and misses.
It’s only fitting that prized recruits are described as “blue chip,” as in gambling.
Yet National Signing Day, like the NFL Draft, has spawned a mini industry of experts and website wizards who speak with hyper authority on a football player’s “explosiveness” or “pocket IQ.”
What does the crush of names and data mean? Check back in three or four years. Whether a high school senior was rated a three-star, four-star or five-star recruit means nothing if his stars don’t shine in college.
So, the University of Miami’s results can be viewed two ways. Coach Al Golden did not get all the cards in his hand that he badly wanted, but he got enough, and the game has only started. Ratings don’t matter. Results do.
Or, UM’s class can be seen as a disappointment, according to analyzers who spend an enormous amount of time watching 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds on grainy video.
UM did not dominate the “state of Miami,” as Howard Schnellenberger surveyed it. Most notably, two kids from the heart of the city took a pass on the program located 10 miles from their state champ school, Miami Booker T. Washington High.
Two hours into the school day, linebacker Matthew Thomas and offensive tackle Denver Kirkland took time out from class to announce their destinations.
The scene was televised live, as if a nation of viewers was on pins and needles, which goes to show just how deformed this media spectacle has become. And which makes one wonder why the chemistry whiz choosing MIT over Stanford and the violinist choosing Julliard over Yale don’t get on TV. How about celebrating academic muscle, too?
Thomas picked Florida State over UM, then Kirkland picked Arkansas over UM. In the span of five minutes, UM absorbed blows on defense and offense. James Coley, UM’s newly arrived offensive coordinator from FSU and a Miami native, was supposed to be a factor in rounding up this class, but apparently not. Given his contacts here, he will be an asset very soon.
Coley was too late to undo hard feelings that might have been lingering from last week, when UM assistant coach Micheal Barrow revoked a scholarship offer to Kirkland right after the Tornadoes’ victory parade through Overtown. Booker T. coach Tim Harris said Barrow gave Kirkland an ultimatum — declare his commitment to UM over Arkansas and FSU or UM would “move in another direction.” Although UM had been privately assured that Kirkland would be a Hurricane, the senior wanted to wait until National Signing Day to have his moment in the sun, surrounded by family and coaches.
“This isn’t the way UM should be doing business, not with the kids in their own backyard,” said Harris, who worked at UM under Randy Shannon and whose sons Tim and Brandon were athletes there. His youngest son is Booker T.’s quarterback.
Golden quickly apologized to Kirkland and patched things up, but when you’re dealing with the bruised ego of a teenager, anything can happen.
UM did score by signing Miami-Dade County’s two best defensive backs, Artie Burns and Jamal Carter, as well as Oakland Park Northeast receiver Stacy Coley. Staten Island fullback Augustus Edwards chose UM over FSU, and New Jersey quarterback Kevin Olsen should be a great one. But UM’s direst position of need — defensive tackles to stop the run — did not get filled as hoped when Port St. Lucie’s Jay-nard Bostwick opted for Florida, Delray Beach’s Keith Bryant chose FSU and junior college transfer Terrell Brooks committed to Baylor.