Ask about recruits in three years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

National Signing Day is an unofficial holiday for rabid college football fans. It is as big as Opening Day for Major League Baseball fans. It makes football fans as crazy as basketball loyalist when it comes to the first tip-off of March Madness.

It is a big day and an important one, but I do not get too wrapped up in all of the hype.

I have talked with my Dad a couple of times in the past week via the telephone and emails and every time he asks, "Alabama is having a

great recruiting year, aren't they?"

"I'm not sure. I'll tell you in about three years," I replied.

I know teams have holes to fill and need the best players available to fill them, but I do not believe there is a proven way to judge talent that will guarantee success.

First of all, the "blue chippers" are not always the best players to recruit for college football because some of them wind up being lazy.

Unfortunately, some "blue chippers" are so good in high school football they are not forced to work hard in the weightroom and on the practice field. They can just show up Friday night, don the pads and shine based solely on their athletic ability regardless of how bad their technique may be.

Also, recruiters often place too much emphasis on a players size, speed and a wide variety of other factors that may or may not equate to a football player capable of playing at the college level - much less be an All-American.

The recruiters also do not always think to ask about a player's character and personality. They too often just look at his talents and decide he is worth whatever problems may come with him.

Of course, many "blue chippers" live up to their potential and eventually play professional football.

The players everyone winds up loving, however, are the ones who have to bust their tail to crack the starting line-up and then do so well despite their small stature or lack of speed rise to the top and become All-Americans before moving up to the NFL.

It seems like those players know how to work hard in practice because they had to do it in high school. They know how to stay in shape because they did it in high school.

And, they know what it is to be hungry and strive to achieve a goal because they never had anything handed to them when it came to playing football from the time they were Pee-Wees through middle school football, high school contests on Friday and then college games.

I wish all of the young men who signed national letters of intent the best of luck during their college careers. I hope they all stay out of trouble and get a quality education.

I hope they have fun and enjoy the "college experience." I hope they are on winning teams and have the opportunity to play in a bowl game, if not a

national championship game.

Most of all, I hope they tune out the hype and go off to college determined and ready to work because when their playing days are over they can always look back with pride at fond memories.

- John Wallace is the sports

editor of, and columnist for,

The Andalusia Star-News.