Now that the 2013 national signing day has arrived, newly signed players and coaching staffs around the nation can get down to the business of preparing for the actual football season. As funny as it might sound, that will likely be the last we hear from these youngsters until the calendar flips over to 2014.
While many of the nation's top recruits have dreams of glory, that fame may have to wait until at least 2014. The word no recruit yet every coach wants to hear—redshirt—will soon be the hot topic of discussion.
Recruits and their fans are often caught up in the bright lights and glare of ESPN's television cameras on national signing day. In reality, these 18-year-old high school seniors are unproven gambles by coaching staffs. These coaches know that the vast majority of top recruits need more than a few months to mature into first-rate college football players.
Enter the redshirt season.
These players may be on everyone's tongue right now, but with physical or mental growth—or even a free roster spot—needed, these top 2013 recruits are destined to spend their first year on campus learning the ropes without setting foot on the field come Saturdays in the fall.
These two soon-to-be defensive speedsters are likely destined to don a redshirt in 2013, but with Oregon's recent penchant for playing true freshmen, anything is possible.
The Ducks, however, return seven defensive starters for 2013 including the entire defensive backfield. From our perspective, there just won't be a roster spot available for the Robinson twins, and better to save these two for the future.
There's little doubt that Wyatt Shallman was recruited by Michigan to be part of the resurgence of traditional “Michigan football.”
Shallman is a big, strong runner that Brady Hoke will likely put in the Wolverines' backfield at some point, but with returning starters and a number of highly-rated ball-carrying recruits over the past couple of seasons, we're almost certain Shallman, a 4-star athlete from Detroit, will have to wait his turn.
The nation's top-rated “athlete” prospect according to Rivals.com, Jalin Marshall never hesitated with his choice to attend Ohio State. Marshall, who committed over a year ago to play for the Buckeyes, will likely fit into an offensive role at slot receiver or running back.
Unfortunately for him, that likely means waiting at least a year before suiting up on Saturdays.
Ohio State returns a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball. With quarterback Braxton Miller returning and still struggling in the passing game, the last thing Urban Meyer should do is add too many new faces in the receiving corps. It would be best for the both Miller and Marshall if Meyer waited until 2014 to dress Marshall at receiver.
It's hard to look at a player like O.J. Howard and instantly see a redshirt season at Alabama. But if you consider for a moment just how talented the Crimson Tide have proven to be over the past several seasons, it's not out of line to ask whether or not they really need Howard, the nation's top tight end recruit according to Rivals.com, to play right this very moment.
Alabama's roster is full of former 5-star recruits, and O.J. Howard looks to be every bit as good as the hype surrounding him. But Nick Saban has talent oozing out of the football facilities in Tuscaloosa, not to mention experience.
Brian Vogler, a former 4-star prospect out of Georgia, is next in line for the starting gig at tight end, and there's no reason to believe he can't do the job very, very well in 2013. Saban also has others just itching for their opportunity to find some late-game work.
Howard, at 6'6” and just 220 pounds, also has some room for physical growth. When he adds some muscular heft to that tall frame, he could be an absolute beast. Why not wait until then?
We're living in a defensive age, and the brightest stars on the football field often come on defense these days. Jonathan Allen, a 5-star defensive end (nationally the No. 2 DE prospect by Rivals.com) could very well belong to the next crop of players who thrill without the football.
But before Allen can make a name for himself, he'll likely need to put in a year on the practice squad at Alabama where a roster full of big, strong and talented defensive ends already currently reside.
Allen has several things working in his favor: size (6'3”, 255 pounds), strength (280 on the bench press) and speed (4.5 in the 40-yard dash). But we're talking about Alabama here. If Allen had opted to play football in his home state of Virginia or even at programs like Vanderbilt or Georgia Tech, a redshirt season probably wouldn't be in his future. But when you play football in Tuscaloosa, sometimes even 5-star prospects have to wait their turn.
When you're a 5-star prospect and the nation's top linebacking recruit according to Rivals.com heading to South Bend on the heels of one of the all-time great linebacking seasons by Manti Te'o, you might think there's an excellent change of playing on Saturdays as a true freshman.
But the word “prospect” was probably never so accurately placed on a college football recruit of this caliber.
Jaylon Smith is staying close to his home of Fort Wayne to play football for Brian Kelly at Notre Dame, but Smith doesn't quite look the role of a traditional rough-and-tumble Midwest linebacker quite yet. The good news is that Smith's future seems to have nothing but upside to it.
Smith is 6'3” but tips the scales at just a fraction over 210. To put it another way, there's plenty of room for this quick linebacker to add plenty of “good” weight to his frame. When he does, the nation's No. 3 overall recruit could be the next big defensive star for a program absolutely loaded with forward momentum already.
Smith also will have the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business. Notre Dame returns three linebackers with starting experience for 2013, and no fewer than six with game experience. Physical growth is one thing; Smith will also get a top-notch football education, too.
Running backs of 2014 and beyond, beware.