Wednesday, February 3, 2016

National Signing Day 2016

National Signing Day has become a certified “thing”. Heck it even has it’s own hastag, #NSD16 or #NationalSigningDay. I’m sure most teams have their own version like #16ATORS from Coach McElwain.
High school phenoms who have matured faster than their peers or possess more talent, or maybe have worked harder than the others hold fan bases at bay as they go on ESPN to tease with elaborate stage productions in front of cheering friends and potential entourage members as they tell us who they will grace with their talent for the next three years. Because we all know if you have a presser there’s no way you’re going to stay for four years and graduate before you bounce to the NFL and the money!
Since so many people ask me what I think about the Gator’s signing class each year and my response usually startles them when I say I really don’t care, I thought I’d take a chance to elaborate on why I don’t get caught up in NSD. Now, I love College Football and I’m passionate about Gator football in particular and the SEC in general. Just check back with me in August if you doubt.
Let’s take a look at the 2012. The Gators had the #3 Athlon ranked class and the #4 ranked class by ESPN. They signed 23 players in that class with 6 early enrollees. The four years for that class has expired in terms of football years. Here’s the breakdown for that class.
4 players left last year for the NFL draft. D. J. Humphries, Dante Fowler and Matt Jones were drafted and made the rosters of NFL teams after their Junior season. Damien Jacobs left early, was a free agent signee for the Bills and was cut by the team. If the goal of a player as it is for most is to get to the NFL then three out of the four reached their dream and even Jacobs got the shot that most only dream about.
9 players from that class transferred. Some went the Juco route, some to other universities. I didn’t bother to look up all of them so it’s hard to say how many of them will be drafted this year.  That’s 39% of the class that transferred out. The change in coaching staff certainly had something to do with that, but truthfully you’d have to be a hardcore Gator football junkie to be able to name fore than three of the transfers. Try it without google and see if you succeed.
That leaves 10 players left on the roster this past fall for their fourth year on campus. 6 of them were Red-shirted at some point in their career.  4 of them will return for their redshirt senior seasons this fall and at least two of them will see significant time in Bryan Cox and Marcus Maye. Austin Hardin likely will only kick off if he maintains that job unless the unproven Pineiro can’t handle the pressure. The other returner, Raphael Andrades was not heavily counted on last season and shouldn’t expect more this season. Alex McCalister is trying his luck in the draft after injuries slowed him last year and Jeremi Powell is leaving football and moving on with life.
The four that completed their eligibility all were significant contributors the last couple of years. Antonio Morrison, Latroy Pittman, Brian Poole, and Jonathan Bullard will be missed. But that means that only 17% of that class finished in four years and only 26% of that class contributed significant time in their fourth year of eligibility counting those who red shirted.

               So if you want to know why I just don’t care about recruiting rankings, that’s why. Only a quarter of the class will matter in the end. Those who can play will make a difference, but it won’t be known until the fall at the earliest. So check back with me in August and then we can get the debate rolling about what kind of team Florida will have. Check back with me in four years and we can debate about the merits of the class signing today. If they have won championships, then it will be a great class. If they have competed in the SEC championships then it will be a good class. If more than half of them are still here or in the NFL from leaving early then it will have been a great recruiting effort by Coach McElwain and his staff. Until then, they only have potential. And we all know what Coach Dikta once famously said about potential. IF you don’t, google it!