Texas Tech football: Should we be more concerned about National Signing Day?

Texas Tech football: Should we be more concerned about National Signing Day?

There was a time, about a decade ago, when college football’s National Signing Day (the day high school and JUCO recruits could officially sign their letters of intent with colleges across the county) was for many fans the adult version of Christmas morning. Every year, Texas Tech football fans joined fans of every other football program in waking up early to monitor message boards and social media accounts to see which players had officially joined their school’s football program.

Back then, I followed all developments, celebrated every fax the football team received, and kept an eye out for the big moves that could bring an unexpected recruit onto the team at the last minute. It truly was one of the biggest days of the year — a day filled with unmissable drama that consumed my every waking moment.

However, in 2022, I just can’t find the energy to invest in signing day. It’s not because I’m a less rabid fan or because I’ve matured and other priorities have taken over my life. Rather, it’s because the college football landscape has changed to the point where the importance of high school recruiting has diminished forever with the rise of the transfer portal.

Now, it’s fair to ask whether National Signature Day is worth paying close attention to.

For most of our lives, college football has been about building programs. Championships were won with local talent who were recruited into their program and allowed to develop over four or five years.

Teams can now bring in talent from the portal to instantly fill gaps and upgrade the roster in what is essentially the college version of free agency. Of course, this also means that players who were gems on National Signing Day can just as easily jump ship. So is there any reason to invest a lot of time and energy into getting to know the players a program signs each year?

For example, consider Texas Tech’s 2022 football roster. Of the 22 starters, 12 did not sign with the Red Raiders after high school, with 9 of those players joining the program as transfers from another FBS program.

Take it a step further and consider how many of this season’s top performers have come through the portal. QB Tyler Shough, DE Tyree Wilson, CB Malik Dunlap and Rayshad Williams, safety Reggie Pearson, Tyler Owens and Marquis Waters, TE Baylor Cupp and OL Monroe Mills played key roles for this year’s team and all signed other programs on their National Day of Subscription.

On the other hand, consider how few members of the 2019 hiring class (who should have been the backbone of this year’s team) actually proved to be significant contributors to this program. Of the 19 draftees who signed with Tech that year, only Tony Bradford Jr., Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, Jonathan Garibary, Austin McNamara, Landon Peterson, Travis Koontz, and Kosi Eldridge ended up starting.

Meanwhile, of the top ten players in that class according to their recruiting rankings at the time they signed, six would leave the program before exhausting their eligibility. That’s just the new reality for the college football world.

There was a time when autographing classes were the primary means of acquiring talent for programs, with only the rare transfer making any sort of significant impact. That’s why signing day was once one of the biggest days on the calendar.

Now, players who sign with a program are more likely to end their careers in other ports of call than they are starters for the program they signed to play out of high school.

Schools are no longer willing to wait for young players to mature and become collaborators. Instead, turning to the portal is how coaches improve their lineup. Just look to Texas Tech for reference.

With Marquis Waters out of eligibility after this year, Tech brought in San Diego State transfer safety CJ Baskerville to fill that role. With middle linebacker Krishon Merriweather also set to graduate, the program will likely turn to former Virginia transfer Jacob Rodriguez, who was signed last offseason, to be the starter at that spot. To make up for the loss of defensive lineman Philip Blidi, Tech signed Quincy Ledet from Louisiana Monroe.

What’s more, Tech has hosted a number of key transfer targets in recent days. Speedy Austin Peay wide receiver Drea McRay paid a visit to Lubbock this month, as did Western Kentucky center Rusty Staats. And that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg, as transfers can enter the portal any time they want during the offseason, and they can sign on with new shows until August.

Thus, the most impactful additions to this program will likely not happen on signing day. Instead, the next group of difference makers will arrive one by one over the coming weeks and months, with Tech almost certain to add several offensive linemen, a receiver, a linebacker and maybe even a veteran backup QB to take their place. of Donovan Smith (who committed to play for Houston).

So take into account the Recruitment Class Rankings that are being reported over the last couple of days. This includes Tech’s class, which ranks in the top 25 of nearly every recruiting service and which is the highest-ranked group Tech has signed since 2011.

The reality is that the college football recruiting world is not what it used to be even five years ago and many of the players who are now the rattlesnakes of their respective classes will end up at other schools before their college careers are over. The portal has radically changed the way shows are built and how fans follow the recruiting process.

Now, for me at least, National Signing Day is no longer the college football version of Christmas morning, but rather a day that just makes you wonder which of the newly signed players is worth putting some mental value into. While it’s still an important day for the shows, it’s not quite the bonanza it used to be, and that takes some of the magic away from what was once a day that college football fans obsess over.

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