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The Day Before Signing Day Thoughts

For many football teams across the nation, tomorrow is indeed "signing day".  High school auditoriums right now are getting festooned with bunting, perhaps, or at a bare minimum streamers.  Some are preparing highlight reels to air as the athletes - with local press in tow - sign pieces of paper committing themselves to a school.

Though Patriot League schools are not committed to announce their recruiting classes on "signing day" - and, as a matter of fact, sometimes get some gems by being patient and waiting until after signing day to get more athletes - there are some thoughts I'm having as we find out exactly the names of the incoming football recruiting classes of 2014.  (And, of course, you can keep track of the my ongoing list the the confirmed Patriot League recruiting classes here.)  (more)

First of all, there are reports like the following from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that are at once heartwarming - and hair-pulling - all at the same time:

Casa Grande running back Kahlil Keys, an accomplished public speaker with a 3.93 GPA, has turned down a full athletic scholarship from UNLV to attend Yale.

Keys said he will have about 80 percent of his Ivy League education paid for thanks to a need-based financial-aid scholarship. Tuition, room and board at Yale is $47,500 for the 2009-10 school year. Keys said his family will have to pay about $10,000 a year. Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships.
First, the hair-tearing part.  While technically the article is true, the article goes to pains to explain that Yale is "non-scholarship" in football... right after explaining that almost 80% of his school expenses will be paid for by the school.  Non-scholarship.  Yeah, right.  "If a college education is paid for by the university based on school policy or through athletic ability, is it any less paid for?"

Having said that, it's surprising how many kids will simply take the scholarship since it's called a "scholarship", and it's encouraging to see that Mr. Keys took a look at the situation and saw that getting a Yale education for $40,000 over 4 years would be worth more to him than a free pass at UNLV.  More kids should do the same: and it's worth mentioning that many schools (including nearly all Ivy League and Patriot League schools) will pay your way through school if your family's income is below a certain threshold and you can get through admissions. 

On the flip side of this story comes the following story from Jeffrey Reinhart of the Lacaster-Lebanon blog:

Kyle Smith, Lancaster Catholic’s record-setting senior quarterback, will accept a full athletic scholarship offer and continue his scholastic and football careers at Central Michigan University.

Smith made an official visit to the school in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, last weekend.

Smith said he met with new head football coach Dan Enos for about 15 minutes on Sunday, and just before he left, Enos offered him a scholarship and asked Smith to think about it.

“I didn’t need any time,” Smith said. “I told him I was ready to be a Chippewa."

Smith said he picked Central Michigan over Akron, Richmond, Princeton and Dartmouth.

I wish the kid the best, but it's hard to look at his decision and wonder if he's throwing away a golden opportunity.  While Dartmouth and Princeton are "non-scholarship", as one of the richest universities in the country their financial aid package means that if his folks are making less than $150,000 a year, he could have gotten the equivalent of a "free ride" - or, at a bare minimum, a huge hunk of his education paid for.

Sure, there are other selling points, probably for Central Michigan - it looks like Smith was sold the chance to play right away in a spread offense, as a true freshman.  But giving up an Ivy League education for a "scholarship", or a chance to play "FBS" football - that's one (let's just say) interesting decision.

Speaking of scholarships, with Fordham's decision to pursue football scholarships for the class of 2014 it's fair to say that the Rams' incoming class is being viewed with considerable interest.  Judging by "two who got away" - one to Florida and another to Texas Tech - you can safely say Fordham has set the bar extremely high:

With offers from schools like Syracuse, Temple and Fordham, Murphy hesitated to believe Florida was calling at first. Aprils Fools Day had long passed, but once he began talking to Loeffler there was a quick feeling of comfort. Their relationship grew in two weeks to the point that Murphy felt comfortable committing to the Gators after taking an official visit to Gainesville this weekend.
While I can't confirm or deny this statement, what I can say is that not a few players in the last few days committed to Bucknell only days after Susan was announced as the head football coach - and some of those prospects, to this untrained eye, looked pretty impressive.  Good coaches can indeed bring some of the good players they were recruiting to their new gig - and it could be that Susan will do the same with Bucknell.  We'll see.

Finally, some high-academic FCS schools have another powerful recruiting tool at their disposal: NFL players and head coaches:

When Paint Branch senior Ivan Tagoe hears the name DB Darren Sharper of the Saints, a small smile creeps across his face.

Tagoe, a chiseled 6-foot, 205-pound safety, is committed to play football at Sharper's alma mater, The College of William & Mary (Va.). The Tribe advanced to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision national semifinals last season.

Meanwhile Sharper, an All-America safety in college and National Football League Pro Bowler for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, is set to play in Super Bowl XLIV for the Saints on Sunday.

"Everybody wants to go the NFL," said Tagoe, who led the county last fall with 53 receptions, 766 yards and eight touchdowns, guiding the Panthers to their first playoff berth in 34 years. "But that's a long way off and a dream. Right now I'm just figuring how I can contribute and what my major is going to be. Having said that, I know they have had some great players like Darren and [Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike] Tomlin come through."
Too bad Saints WR Marques Colston can't do the same anymore for Hofstra.


Anonymous said…
The Star Ledger of NJ reports that Ryan Lechner, Delaware Valley, OL, 6-1 200 lbs has signed a letter of intent with Lehigh. Hopefully, if the weight listing is correct he will be playing another position at Lehigh.
rich said…
Lechner recruited as a LS and LB not for OL.
Anonymous said…
According to the Morning Call Lafayette out-recruited Lehigh in the Valley. I guess that happens when your team finishes progressively worse every year. The Cason kid at East Stroudsburg chose Colgate over Lehigh too.
Anonymous said…
So.....go become a leopard!
rich said…
There are still a bunch of LV kids not announced. True lost Cason to Gate but got Kuntz, who's Dad played at Gate. Class at 16 with a couple of very good with more to come. I hope. LC had only 17 last yr so big class no surprise and it is very good.
ngineer said…
Yes, the PL schools don't all announce as we generally pick up some who had hopes for "bigger things" at FBS level which didn't pan out. We may still end up with 3 or so LV players, which is no more than average over the past decade. Some years even less. All depends on a particular teams needs for that year. LC lost around 28 seniors, so they had to go for a bigger net.

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