Pace Academy players are arrayed in the colors of their chosen schools during last year's National Signing Day. Trey Blount, in the Georgia hat, is in the foreground. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)
Photo: David Barnes/DAVID BARNES / AJC
Photo: David Barnes/DAVID BARNES / AJC

Georgia can flaunt its embarrassment of riches this signing day

It needs to be re-stated every time the topic is college football signing day(s): The only people who really should agonize over the decision-making of a teenager are the parents. Anyone else who gets overly worked up about it, well, that’s just creepy.  

The first Wednesday in February approaches, a time that used to be a high holiday for those who insist upon worrying about someone else’s kids. National Signing Day is nigh, but like most experiences in this life, it’s not like it used to be.

For now, oh, boy, there are two Christmases for the passionate followers of recruiting. Two signing periods to fire those fans’ imaginations, two chances for we in the media to feed a mania that has grown beyond a reasonable scale.  

Turns out that First Christmas – the new early signing period in late December – has stolen more than its share of the excitement and anticipation. There is still a low-level buzz around the upcoming traditional Signing Day, but nothing like it was in the good ol’ days of 2016. What we’ll hear this Wednesday are more the echoes of all the loud detonations from seven weeks ago.

It has been estimated that around 2,800 players sign with college football programs each year. And that nearly 2,000 already signed during the Dec. 20-22 early period.

According to Forbes, just 79 of ESPN’s top 300 recruits remained unsigned entering February. Just three 5-star prospects are still ripening on the tree.

OK, don’t let Paul Johnson fool you, recruiting is important despite how Georgia Tech’s coach downplays the trickle of 5- and 4-stars going his way. It is the lifeblood of a program (just, please, try to keep it in proportion, because none of these recruits come with guarantees).    

The early period passed with Georgia sitting on a reported overflowing pot of potential gold. Entering his third season, Kirby Smart has shown himself to be the one former assistant most apt to challenge Nick Saban’s hold on the youth of the south. I don’t know that Saban’s sheets are sweat-soaked every night as he tosses and turns over this development, but Smart surely has his attention. 

Georgia emerged from the early signing with the second-ranked recruiting class in America (behind Ohio State), according to 247 Sports. The Bulldogs already have signed a ridiculous six 5-star recruits, and another 12 4-stars. With one or two of the right names added Wednesday – like parsley adorning the main course – Georgia could claim the nation’s top class. No trophies are awarded for this, however.

You get the idea that Smart never relaxes, that he probably, somehow, would work recruiting even while in the dentist’s chair, getting a root canal. But he is in the enviable position of already having won the recruiting war before National Signing Day. Now it is merely a question of how much the Bulldogs wish to gild the lily.

The Bulldogs can go into this signing day, as ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill told Forbes, concentrating on the rest of this decade. “I guarantee you Georgia’s focus in the month of January was on the 2019 and 2020 classes, not this current class,” he said.

The drama of America’s youth signing a piece of paper in their high school gym has been significantly diluted by the addition of another signing period.     

But, then, more is better. We can never have enough excuses to attach undue importance to some young stranger.  

Why not add a couple more signing days, just to feed our appetites and ensure that no college coach ever sleeps?

About the Author

Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.