Today is one of the biggest days of the year in college athletics â€“ National Signing Day for college football programs.
We have been entertaining a season long â€œFootball Recruitingâ€ thread on our message boards that is now nine pages long and can be seen by clicking here. But, today is when all of the â€˜commitmentsâ€™ become â€˜signeesâ€™ and you can genuinely pencil them into blocks on depth charts.
Early in the year, many national blogs and recruiting publications were highlighting footballâ€™s ‘worstâ€™ recruiting classes; and NC State was perpetually included in those rankings. SFN preached â€˜PATIENCEâ€™ at that time and we continued to do so throughout the season. Of course, finishing 9-4 with wins over Florida State, UNC-CH and West Virginia helped support the call for a a wait-and-see approach.
At the end of today, I think you will see NC Stateâ€™s recruiting rankings generally fall out between #55 and #60 in the country.
Our readers know that we are not pie-in-the-sky apologists who can rationalize every piece of news as â€˜positiveâ€™ for our beloved NC State. So, we hope that our failure to be excessively alarmed about this yearâ€™s recruiting rankings carried a little bit of credibility with our readers. It was obvious that this year just wasnâ€™t shaping up as an huge recruiting year for the Wolfpack â€“ especially if you care about rankings. There were many reasons for this that werenâ€™t necessarily awful news for the Wolfpack:
Skill position players usually get the highest volume of the most disproportionately high rankings — and the Wolfpack didnâ€™t need a huge haul of skill position players with the depth we have built at QB, RB, WR & TE. It isnâ€™t a bad thing that weâ€™ve got plenty of talent at the skill positions.
Volume of recruits boost rankings — and the Wolfpack only had 19-20 scholarships available with which to recruit this year.
Previous transfers donâ€™t get counted in recruiting rankings â€“ and the Wolfpack picked up a stud linebacker from Syracuse that is projected to be a starter for the next three years at middle linebacker. Hmmmâ€¦an unproven freshman with a great ranking? or a proven linebacker that started as a true freshman in a BCS conference?
Special teams players never get rankings commiserate with their potential impact on the field â€“ and almost 15% of NC Stateâ€™s recruiting class are special team players that were ranked in the top five of their positions nationally at kicker, punter, and long snapper.
Tom Oâ€™Brien has a long term track record of developing fantastic FOOTBALL PLAYERS regardless of rankings. We donâ€™t subscribe to the theory that every 2* prospect can become Russell Wilson or BJ Raji, nonetheless, Coach Oâ€™Brien has earned the benefit of the doubt by showing he is significantly smarter than the recruiting services throughout his entire career. Why would this year be any different?
Recruiting quality often lags performance on the field â€“ and NC State has been struggling on the field the last few years but delivered a 9-4 season with Coach Oâ€™Brienâ€™s fourth team (full of three full recruiting classes) Conversely, State already has two solid commitments for 2012 coming off the heels of this seasonâ€™s success.
We will have a lot more on National Signing Day as the next 48 hours unfold. In the meantime, weâ€™ll leave you with an article on a player that could account for 50+ more yards PER GAME than last year for the Wolfpack.
As a sophomore, he averaged 43.8 yards per punt. And as a junior, he earned all-state by averaging 44.6 yards, including 29 placements inside the 20.
In July, he participated in the Wolfpack summer camp in Raleigh and N.C. State offered him a scholarship.
Recruiters were aware of him; kicking guru Chris Sailer ranked him the No. 2 punter in the 2011 class after participating in his kicking camp in Las Vegas.
Clemson, East Carolina, Florida, South Carolina and Duke expressed interest, while Northwestern offered. He took an official visit to the Chicago-based Big Ten Conference team and enjoyed the trip.
But he wanted to play closer to home. After all, he was born in Wilmington and plans to major in computer engineering, following in the footsteps of his father.