College Football: National Signing Day 2013, A Decade Of Cautionary Tales

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Ah, signing day.....
Beginning bright and early Wednesday morning, 18-year-old football players far and wide will finalize in writing their plans on where they will ply their trade for the next three to five years, causing high blood pressure in adults three times their age coast to coast and dragging the fax machine into relevance for a day.

It's National Signing Day for college football, Christmas morning for college football junkies with websites like rivals.com serving as the online version of the tree.

By end of day Wednesday, college football coaches, ALL of them, will tout the merits of their class and how delighted they are with their haul. Coaches with actual stellar classes will say as much, coaches with less than stellar classes will talk about how they were able to "fill needs."

Heading into Wednesday morning, here are some of the highlights of 2013:

(NOTE: All references to ratings are those of rivals.com.)

-- The top four teams in 2013 recruiting as of Wednesday (Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame) were the same top four teams in the AP poll at the end of the 2012 regular season. The rich will get richer.

-- Texas A&M is capitalizing big time on the three-way buzz of Kevin Sumlin, Johnny Manziel, and their success in the SEC. They have the 7th-rated class heading into Wednesday morning.

-- Mack Brown has built virtually an entire legacy on his ability to turn the first Wednesday in February into Mardi Gras on the Forty Acres. This year, the party will be muted as the Longhorns sit at 20th in the recruiting rankings (which, given the importance many 'Horn types place on recruiting, may as well be 120th) and have seen bits of notable attrition in their class (Ricky Seals-Jones, anyone?).

-- Eleven of the top 24 classes are in the SEC. ELEVEN. Jeez. Even Vanderbilt has secured the 19th-rated class heading into signing day.

-- Among schools dealing with scholarship reductions, USC is sitting at 10th, but was at one time in first and has seen a gradual exodus from the class with UCLA being a likely beneficiary, and Penn State is at 43rd, but with a five-star quarterback (Christian Hackenberg out of Virginia) in the fold.

Inevitably, the process and hype lends itself to overreaction. While there is some direct correlation between the rankings in recruiting and the final rankings on the field, on a per recruit basis, the processes of evaluation and projection are an educated crapshoot, at best. So to temper expectations and celebrations for all of you Aggies, and to help you Longhorns keep your collective chin up, here are the top 10 recruits from each class during the rivals.com era (back to 2002).

Enjoy this trip down memory lane!

(NOTE: I didn't include last year's class since it's way too early to say who's good, who's a bust, etc.)

2002
1. VINCE YOUNG, QB (Houston-Madison), Texas
2. HALOTI NGATA, DT (Salt Lake City-Highlands), Oregon
3. LORENZO BOOKER, RB (Ventura, CA-St. Bonaventure), Florida State
4. BEN OLSON, QB (Thousand Oaks, CA), UCLA
5. REGGIE MCNEAL, ATH (Lufkin, TX), Texas A&M
6. CHIRS DAVIS, ATH (St. Petersburg, FL-Catholic), Florida
7. RYAN MOORE, WR (Orlando, FL-Dr. Phillips), Miami (FL)
8. MARCUS VICK, QB (Newport News, VA-Warwick), Virginia Tech
9. LEON WASHINGTON, DB (Jacksonville, FL-Andrew Jackson), Florida State
10. CIATRICK FASON, RB (Jacksonville, FL-Fletcher), Florida

2002 COMMENTS: Rivals nailed it on the top two guys in this class. Yeah, go ahead and nod along with me Houston, you know you want to. I got it, Vince is your boy. He was the man in high school. This was one of the last classes before Miami and Florida State dropped into a decade-long abyss. Five of the top ten wound up with Florida schools. Marcus Vick easily qualifies as the biggest bust in this group, unless you count taunting Andy Reid on Twitter as part of your evaluation.


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