Photo Credit: Kimiko Isler
Another National Signing Day has come and Wisconsin has signed what seems like a pretty good football recruiting class. But just how excited should we be before any of these prospects hit the field?
I never really understood the hype of National Signing Day. Most of the time, schools have already wrapped up that year's class long before NSD rolls around, making the entire day an exercise in hitting F5 to hear things you already knew. It's great way to feed your basest OCD tendencies. Unfortunately, the payoff is kind of lacking if you've been paying half-attention over the previous 12 months.
Sure, on occasion you get a day-of decision. Marcus Ball decided to spur Wisconsin for Arizona State right after I had finished writing several nice things about him for a recruiting profile that will never see daylight. In cases like that, however, NSD becomes just like the several dozen other days of the year when recruits schedule press conferences to announce which schools they are attending. It's exciting, yes, but not enough to keep me glued to a computer screen.
National Signing Day is a good day to take stock of the Jones' and pat your fellow fans on the back about what a great crop of kids will be coming in as freshman. Everyone who isn't a four-star is a sleeper, and I don't mean that cynically. The best thing about NSD is that it is the one day of the year that the collective positivity level of college football fanbases is at its highest point. Next year may not be our year, BUT BOY, GET A LOAD OF 2017.
You don't know anything, however, and I'm talking to you now, guy who presumably reads this blog religiously. Wisconsin's recruiting class ranks No. 56 in the country and No. 11 in the Big Ten according to Rivals (albeit with the fifth-highest star average). They ranked No. 56 last year, too, and No. 40 the year before then, No. 87 before then, No. 43 before then and No. 41 before then. Keep going, and you'll find that Wisconsin recruiting generally stays within the same standard deviation. Those same-y classes produced the massively disappointing 2008 season, the 2010 team that may be my all-time favorite and the 2012 squad that was too weird to classify.
I can't get too excited about recruiting, because in some sense prospects aren't even people, yet. They are names and positions and heights and weights, and they have number values assigned to them by someone somewhere who may or not be a seasoned scout. You may be lucky if he's a guy on deadline looking at grainy YouTube footage. Hard work or not, the numbers become irrelevant the moment anyone has anything to say about them in a college uniform. A prospect isn't a person until he's a player.
Which isn't to say that you shouldn't be a little excited. The Anderson/Bielema combo class has the potential to be as good as any class Wisconsin has had. Maybe even better! Guys like Tanner McEvoy, Jakarrie Washington, Leon Jacobs, Donnell Vercher and Hayden Biegel (for example) are all relatively unknown commodities who seem to possess higher levels of athleticism than the standard Wisconsin recruit (Jacobs won a slam-dunk contest!).
Just keep in mind that this year's class isn't anything special. At least not yet. The future is dark, bright, and everything in between.
Gary Andersen is making inroads with the WFCA, which is great to hear. Obviously had no problem keeping in-state prospects this year.
Andersen gives his seal approval on the Class of 2013.
More from Andersen: The search for a wide receivers coach is ongoing, and Wisconsin may still have another body or two to add the 2013 recruiting class.
Dave Heller rounds up player reactions across Twitter. Also, a handy list of handles.
Hoegher finishes his 2012 Big Ten breakdown. Great read per usual.
Alex Collins' mom ran away with her son's LOI. Sure looks like [Obligatory Bielema joke], right?!
SMU received a commitment from a Calvin Klein model. For real, here's his modeling page.
EDSBS does some fine Klosterman-skewering. Very fine.