Projecting the futures of 17- and 18-year-olds is more guesswork than science, though. Blue-chip, five-star recruits will flame out and unheralded two-star recruits will shine, and nobody will truly know how anyone’s recruiting class was for two or three years.
Yet the website experts are assigning instant grades and rankings, feeding the beast by quantifying the excess.
One popular recruiting website, 247Sports, ranked Miami’s 2013 class 17th in the nation. Another popular recruiting site, Rivals.com, looking at the very same list of players, ranked UM’s class 44th.
What does that tell you?
What it should tell you is nobody really knows anything.
The margin of error is great in the NFL Draft but far greater here because these are young guys of an age not fully developed physically, mentally or emotionally. Yet suddenly, a teenager whose biggest decision has been “Burger King or McDonald’s?” finds himself choosing his college on national TV.
It is worse than silly.
It sends wrong messages.
It reinforces that the phrase “student-athlete” is quaintly noble but probably has the order backward.
High schools stage campus ceremonies to honor their outgoing football stars while their academic scholars slip off to college in the quiet shadows. Colleges welcome their football recruits with great fanfare, everything but a parade, while incoming students who are not athletes arrive unannounced.
And yet we wonder why saying “student-athlete,” as least as it pertains to major college football, always sounds like we are being sarcastic.
National Signing Day also is the beginning of the entitlement that so many athletes come to feel.
Teenagers are wooed and pursued for months by swooning colleges and coaches, a ghastly, demeaning courting that culminates with the player and his decision being foisted up onto a national pedestal.
Not unlike a Kardashian, these kids have done very little to be famous except look good on film, but suddenly they are celebrities (or made to think they are), only the paparazzi are ESPN cameras. So Florida Gators signee Daniel McMillian wears sunglasses during his indoor ceremony and UM’s Coley wears a cap that reads: SWAG.
They are instant stars. Not because they actually are. But because fawning websites and overeager fans and Your Friend the Media say they are.
It will never happen but wouldn’t it be great if the whole thing was scaled back to some sort of sanity?
Wouldn’t it be great if there were no school campus assemblies to remind these kids they’re football players first and no TV cameras on hand to erase any doubt?
That poor kid from Fernley, Nev., who faked his own signing ceremony — I can’t say that was all his fault.
He was just doing what he’d seen done on TV.