Kriens puts recruiting and signing day in focus

Travis Kriens

Travis KriensSDSU Analyst

Last Wednesday was national signing day for high school football players where they sign their letter of intent declaring what college they will take their talents to for the next four to five years.

Over the last handful of years, this process and day has exploded with media coverage. Experts telling you what guys are the next stars of the college game and most of us believing what they say, because no one listening has ever watched the players they are talking about outside of highlights.

This is even a more inexact science than the NFL Draft. Five star recruits never living up to the hype (Mitch Mustain, Ryan Perrilloux) while junior college transfers become Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (hello, Aaron Rodgers.)

I understand the excitement of getting the next impact player to pick your favorite school and hopefully have a great career, but even the best of the bunch won’t have a sizable impact for at least two years. It’s just way too much coverage, way too early.

“Signing day has become part of the media push to make everything in sports an event,” said SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier. “There is some good with that and obviously some bad with that.”

SDSU isn’t immune to the increased coverage. Ten years ago when the Jacks were Division II, no one really cared about signing day. It was nice to see the local high school kids that you might recognize get a scholarship from the area college, but today, it has become a national scene.

In 1999, 80 percent of the roster came from either South Dakota or Minnesota. In 2010, that number is down to 38 percent. 50 percent of the team was from in-state in 1999 compared to 25 percent in 2010.

Of the 17 high school players and two junior college transfers that signed with SDSU (non walk-ons), one was from South Dakota with the majority coming from Arizona and Minnesota with five each.

“The level of athlete that we try to attract at SDSU, so we have need to reach even further,” said Stiegelmeier when asked what the biggest change has been in the past 5-10 years with recruiting.

The thing I love most from signing day is every coach telling the media they are very happy with the kids that they have coming to their school. I do not doubt that they are happy with the players they signed because they spent the time and money trying to get these players. But I have never once heard a coach say that he was disappointed with the players that signed and that they didn’t get that one difference making recruit that maybe went to a high profile school.

Obviously there’s an audience out there for this type of coverage or it wouldn’t be on TV and I wouldn’t be writing about it. But before you get too excited about a new recruiting class in any sport, just remember that the two starting quarterbacks in this year’s Super Bowl had a combined one scholarship offer coming out of high school.