National Signing Day is a week from today (I Googled it), and some things are going to happen. Your favorite 17-year-old is going to sign a piece of paper pledging the next four-ish years of his life to your favorite college football team. Or maybe he won't! Who knows?
The teenager's mother might have even said something to somebody about him wanting to play for Will Muschamp because he likes his energy. Sometimes even the mommas are just as surprised as the rest of us come Signing Day. You might have read on the Internet that Recruit X was "solid to Florida" or some other gross abuse of the English language, but you don't know. He might have told a recruiting "expert" or three that he was going to play for the Gators, but the experts don't know anything — trust me. I used to write for a recruiting site, and I did not then, nor do I now, know anything.
The truth is that nobody knows, and my point is this: Don't get too worked up over this stuff. Recruiting is an inexact science and the coverage of it is even more inexact. Only one person knows where your favorite 17-year-old is going to sign, and that's your favorite 17-year-old.
And besides, who cares about those 17-year-olds in February? Things change in the span between inking National Letters of Intent and running out of a tunnel for the first time.
You know, John Brantley was the No. 3 quarterback in the class of 2007. He was committed to Texas, until he wasn't. He was going to be a "real quarterback" for the Gators, until he wasn't. He even had BANGS as a recruit, which is as sure a sign of future success as any if you've watched any Alabama football over the last six to eight years. He cut those bangs and the rest is history.
On the other hand, Louis Murphy wasn't even a nationally-ranked recruit in the class of 2005: He was Rivals' 37th-ranked wide receiver in the country, and the 46th-best player in Florida. He turned out to be the Gators' leading receiver on the 2008 national championship team, outgaining even Percy Harvin. And now I'm depressed because I suddenly remember what offense looks like.
It's because of guys like John Brantley and Louis Murphy, and the dozens of other surprising busts and sleepers, that I'm not one to get overly worked up over recruiting. I'm not exactly sure how anybody who follows it with regularity can continue to do so year after year. Doesn't it make you nuts? The committing, the de-committing (or un-committing?), and the signing-day flips. The one thing we should all know by now is that we don't know anything.
Even after Signing Day is over, all we're really going to know is what our players' names are, where they're from, and, probably, how tall they are. There's a lot of green between Wednesday and August 2014, or August 2015, or August 2016 — and some 2014 recruits may really have to wait until 2016 to play.
Don't get me wrong: I know that recruiting is THE most important aspect of building a successful college football program. As fans, though, we don't really know anything on Signing Day. The writers who cover it certainly don't know anything - the stars and rankings sometimes seem to be based on who is being recruited by whom. I don't even think the coaches — the folks who get paid millions of dollars to be right about this stuff — can even be sure about most guys most of the time.
So call me when the class of 2014 hits the field. We can get fired up when Will Grier starts throwing touchdown passes or Jalen Tabor starts blowing coverages. But we have no idea when — or whether — they will be doing that, at least right now.
Jean Shorts Torture used to write for the blog of the same name. Now he's writing for Alligator Army. We're happy about that. Welcome!