Today is signing day? Yes, today is signing day. For college football it is always the first Wednesday in February.
Is today the only day to sign? No. Today is the first day to sign a national letter of intent. Players can, but rarely do, sign later in the process.
Does an athlete have to sign? No. A player can sign and most do, but if he is accepted to a school he can enroll like any other student. This is more common with junior college players.
Why sign? After a player signs with a school the rules for contact with the coaches change. This allows the coaches to talk with the player a great deal more.
How many players can my school sign? It depends. There is a limit of 85 scholarship players that can play football. Your school can sign however many spaces they have. If your team had 85 players on scholarship and 20 graduated, they could sign 20, but it’s usually more complicated than that.
How? First, players leave for a variety of reasons. Graduation, injury and academic ineligibility are common. It’s not uncommon for the number of available scholarships to exceed 25. This can be an issue for a school because the school can only offer 25 new scholarships a signing period.
So my school can only sign 25? No, 28 is the actual limit on the number of players who can “sign”. 25 of which can actually receive scholarships.
Then 3 players sign but don’t get scholarships? Usually not. In most cases some of the kids who sign won’t qualify and will have to go to prep school or junior college. Since they don’t enter college on scholarship with the rest of the class they don’t receive a scholarship and count toward the limit of 25.
But I’ve seen schools sign more than 28. How do they do that? A few ways. The most common way is a mid year enrollee. Some students graduate from high school in December and start college in January. In certain situations those students can count back toward the last season’s limit not toward the 25 limit. As the saying goes, the numbers tend to work themselves out.
OK, what about ratings? Most services rank the prospects using a star system. 5 stars is the most and is rare. 4 stars is next, and represents a very good player. 3 stars is next. These are solid, major college prospects. 2 stars are projects who may take years to contribute. No one usually gets a one star in major college football.
Do ratings matter? Only if you care about winning.
But, one of my favorite players was a 2 star and the 5 star stunk. Yes, there are busts and diamonds in the rough, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
My team is going to have a great signing day. We’re going to be good right? Maybe. To be good a team MUST have talent, but that talent has to work hard and be coached well to develop. The difference in a talented high school senior and a well coached, hard working, talented college football star is great.
Are these guys getting paid to sign? Not officially, no. Unofficially, I don’t think so either. But if you want to know about how it can work, read Steven Godfrey’s article. How often does it work like that? Rarely? Usually? I have no idea. I think it if it was really common we’d hear about it more often.
Should I tweet at recruits? No.
But what if I have something important to say? NO.
What if? Signing day is fun. The stars of tomorrow are committing to school and for many fans it’s a great day. For players, it’s about choosing their college, choosing where they are going to go to school for the next 3-5 years. They are making a big life decision. As happy or disappointed as you may be about a particular recruit the impact on your life in tiny compared to theirs. This is about them, not us. Don’t tweet at recruits.