Without fail—national signing day is the most over-hyped day of the year. To skeptics, it’s all about lies…and more damned lies.
Coaches from across the country proudly proclaim their best recruiting class ever on this day, and the sky's the limit for these fresh new faces—disregarding the fact that most of these players won’t make an impact on the team until years down the road.
But in their defense, it’s almost mandatory to do some serious chest pounding about the perceived northward direction of the program. The boosters demand it, the fans crave it, and the media provides the stage to deliver it.
It’s not all hype.There is a dose of reality to live up to—eventually, programs will either sink or swim with their recruits.
Coaches are castigated as “snake oil salesmen” if they lose and elevated to “super football geniuses” if they win.
It’s that simple.
In the cutthroat world of college football recruiting, we’ve already seen Lane Kiffin turn Tennessee upside down, as he bolted to the land of Troy. And despite Urban Meyer's health concerns, the Gators continue to lure the nation’s top recruits.
According to ESPN.com, Florida has the No. 1 recruiting class for 2010, followed closely by Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn.
In the Mountain West Conference, BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham are both riding a wave of success, and both are in the midst of reeling in a bounty of highly regarded recruits.
Surprisingly, the experts say Whittingham’s Utes are taking a back seat to the Cougars in the recruiting wars, despite an undefeated season in 2008 and a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama.
ESPN.com and Scout.com both rate BYU’s class of 2010 as the best in the Mountain West and among the best in the country.
Leading the way for BYU's "newbies" is superstar-in-the making, quarterback Jake Heaps. Rivals.com ranks the Skyline High product as the top “pro-style” quarterback in the country.
Certainly, all eyes in Provo will be on Heaps, as he tries to fill the shoes of Max Hall and become the next generation of great BYU quarterbacks.
Pass-catching machine, Ross Apo from Arlington, Texas, adds speed and size to the Cougars' receiving corps. The 6'4" speedster is considered to be one of the top prospects in the country and gives Heaps an easy target to throw to.
But there are others: Mendenhall said in January that this new crop of Cougars have all the ear-marks of an elite group.
“This is the best potential class, based on talent, that we have ever had, at this point,” Mendenhall told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Along with the potential firepower on offense, the Cougars' defense will get an elite game-changer. Defensive end Bronson Kaufusi from nearby Timpview High is the best defensive player in the state, adding a dynamic element to BYU's pass rush.
Linebackers Zach Stout from Westlake Village, California, and Toloa’i Ho Ching (who was heavily recruited by Wisconsin) from Salt Lake City, add much-needed depth and talent to an underrated BYU defense.
Mendenhall says his young quarterback deserves a lot of the credit for convincing highly-rated recruits to follow him to Provo.
In June, Heaps became an unofficial recruiter, going on a self-appointed crusade to lure in more talent. It’s all paying off now, as BYU is expected to sign one of its best recruiting classes in the history of the program.
“When you look at the recruiting class that we’re going to end up signing this year, a lot of it is because of him going to work and to surround himself with the best players and best kids possible,” Mendenhall said.
If BYU is a sleeper to bust the BCS, we’ll know soon enough. The Cougars open their college football season at home against Washington on Sep. 4 and then play at Florida State on Sep. 18.