Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ready and willing to serve

If any colleges out there – specifically those with top-flight football programs - are interested, I’ve still got two years of NCAA eligibility left. I don’t want them to go to waste.

As of today, I’m an experienced running back who’s a shade under 6-foot, about a month of daily 3-mile runs from my old playing weight of 212 pounds and fully recovered from completely rupturing my left Achilles tendon in the summer of 2004.

On the downside, I’m a few months from turning 31, haven’t run at full speed since about 2002 and haven’t been tackled in more than 10 years.

Anyone got a Letter of Intent that I can sign? Anyone? Or can I at least take all five of my recruiting visits?

Yes, today is college football’s version of Christmas – National Signing Day. This is my first one in Florida, which I’ve going to have to grudgingly admit is the country’s premier producer of high school football talent. From the lowliest one-star recruit in west Texas to the most coveted blue-chipper in Fort Lauderdale, Wednesday is the culmination – and yet the start – of a dream of most teenagers who dare slip on the shoulder pads and cleats in high school.

I’ll be at work, in a quiet newsroom, for much of the day, so I won’t get to experience the hubbub in full. But without even checking out the rankings on, I can imagine that USC, LSU, Florida, Alabama and Texas got their fair share of 18-year-old assassins.

Here’s a few moderately brief - for me – rundown of the recruiting sweepstakes according to me:

Three schools that tickle a young man's fancy. Namely, mine:
1. USC – Hard to beat playing for Pete Carroll and with the Trojans. I went to a couple of their practices a couple years ago and was struck by how different their players looked (like grown-ass men) and how fun all the work seemed. And have I ever told you how much I love southern Cali?
2. Texas – As much as I despise the Longhorns, I’ve got to admit that I almost always have a great time in Austin. I’ve never known a football player – or any alum, really - from there who didn’t get all wistful when talking about their college days.
3. FloridaAsk Tim Tebow what it’s like to be the BMOC in Gainesville.

Three schools where I’d take an official visit with no intention of ever signing:
1. Hawaii – Man, Hawaii is far. But damn, who couldn’t use a trip to Honolulu in the winter? Every year, there’s some top recruit who’ll have a list of recruiting visits that looks like this: USC, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan and Hawaii. Smart kid.
2. San Diego State – I’ve never been to San Diego. But I’ve heard good things. Why not go? I’m still surprised they stink as much as they do, given the location and proximity to top prospects. And in case you can’t tell, I love southern California.
3. UNLV – What kind of recruiting fun do you think could be had in Vegas? Absolutely.

Three programs that generally defy their limitations but can’t fool me
1. Miami – Could be things are finally catching up with the Hurricanes. They have horrible facilities, a lukewarm fan base and, every now and again, several of their players get killed before graduation.
2. Auburn – Have you ever been to Auburn, Alabama? Right. There’s really no reason to go.
3. Notre Dame – Great school, great tradition, lots of national exposure. But South Bend is really a shitty little town. And winter ain’t no joke up there.

Three programs where no one cares about National Signing Day or, really, football:
1. Louisiana-Monroe – I’m sure there are worse places to spend four of five years. But not many of them. And since my kinfolk is from there, I can say that.
2. Idaho – I imagine the nightlife isn’t a selling point. And really, neither is the football.
3. Wyoming – No way that I’d do that to myself.
* As a bonus, I might add most of the other Sun Belt schools other than North Texas. No one could be excited about matriculating in Jonesboro, Arkansas, or Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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