FOOTBALL'S NATIONAL signing day, the annual interruption of a perfectly good basketball season, is nine days away. The really good news is this: Every recruiting junkie's celebration of their school's greatest signing class ever falls on the earliest possible date, Feb. 1.It should always be on Feb. 1. Or recruits should just sign the minute they agree to an offer, and make it count against the school's max of 25 no matter where the recruit ends up.You're welcome, Mark Emmert.While some Marshall fans celebrate the commitment of four-star cornerback AJ Leggett and await other possible stars to drop from the sky, here is a condensed version of how the last recruiting class fared. Not the 2011 class, but 2007.Gosh, that seems a long time ago. And it was. But the work of what may have been Mark Snyder's best recruiting class was finally completed in December (except for expected sixth-year man John Bruhin), and let's tally the results.The verdict: This class was pretty good, though it could have been unbelievable. Even with the sad stories, whiffs and washouts, this bunch should have gone a few games better than its five-year record of 28-34.Exhibit A is the obvious: Vinny Curry. The Conference USA defensive player of the year arguably swung two or three games to the win column and will go pretty high in the NFL draft. ESPN ranks him 89th overall, No. 9 at defensive end.Curry was one of three nonqualifiers Snyder gambled on at defensive line, along with tackles Delvin Johnson and Brandon Bullock. Johnson didn't meet all-world expectations and Bullock struggled with his weight, but both will be missed.Montel Glasco was the lone junior-college signee announced on Feb. 7, 2007, and he was good on the D-line. Johnny Jones put in four solid years. Shane Moore transferred after one year to the FCS, which seemed like a hasty move.Ryan Tillman and C.J. Wood had solid careers on the offensive line, blocking for Darius Marshall - until Marshall turned pro and proved more proficient at smoking dope. Should Bruhin's back hold up, he'll play in 2012 and you should find the O-line improved because of it.
Kellen Harris and Corey Hart came as well-touted linebackers, and the better of the two was ... George Carpenter. Hart admitted to being shot just before his first preseason camp and had "washout" written all over him; Harris stayed in the rotation, but showed only flashes of brilliance. Carpenter, the overachiever of this class, earned a starting role his senior year.Not bad, but this class might have been so much better.Marshall left a 1,500-yard senior year behind. DeQuan Bembry (police blotter surname Starling) and T.J. Drakeford could have just finished great careers at cornerback, but were booted.Mark Cann rose to starting quarterback before falling apart. My question: Does that blame fall on his position coach at the time, John Shannon? (The former graduated and bypassed his final year of eligibility; the latter is a high school head coach in Biloxi, Miss.)Terrell Edwards-Maye deserved better. In every coaching change there is one player who gets jobbed, and Edwards-Maye was the one. He now plays for Division II Tuskegee, where he has a season remaining after his 2011 was cut short by injury.
I'm not sure I even want to discuss Chris Smith, one of the great examples of recruiting overhype. He came as a celebrated four-star recruit, but magically showed up about 21/2 inches shorter than his listed height. He made Eddie Sullivan look like Fran Tarkenton.Offensive linemen Micah Carter, Branden Curry and Sergio Glenn all left early. If you remember Justin Footman and Franchez Pitts, do not take extra credit.This is the first time in years - since the 1999 class, maybe? - I can look back at a recruiting class and say, "Wow." But that "wow" should have translated into better results on the field.If it had, the 2011 Herd wouldn't have needed multiple miracles to get into a bowl. And Snyder wouldn't be a defensive coordinator (though he's now at Texas A&M, so don't mourn for him.)With that, there are nine days before Doc Holliday's third recruiting class begins its half-decade adventure. Let the class of 2007 remind you of the joys and agony to come. nn
In case you missed it, NCAA president Emmert saved face and/or bought some time at the NCAA Convention last weekend.Facing an avalanche of override requests on the proposal to allow schools to pay full-scholarship athletes a "maximum expense allowance" of up to $2,000, the Division I Board of Directors voted 14-4 to send the issue back to a subcommittee for modification. If Emmert and the board successfully sneak the tweaked proposal past the membership in April, it will take effect in 2013-14.At least the implementation date is sensible. As previously noted, the directors last fall adopted the stipend as "emergency legislation," and a number of athletes who signed letters of intent in November were promised such money. Those payments will stand.Before the convention, Emmert steadfastly declared the proposal would pass at the convention in Indianapolis. Judging by the tone of the write-up on NCAA.org, there remains an arrogant confidence on the issue. While I've raised Cain on that issue in a previous column, I haven't said much about the issue of multi-year scholarships. Also passed as "emergency legislation" last fall, the bylaw received override requests, but not enough to suspend the rule.The directors sent it to the membership for an online vote in February, where it takes a five-eighths majority of the 355 Division I schools to overturn it. Real democratic, isn't it?The proposal allows schools to award scholarships for more than one academic year, up to the end of an athlete's eligibility. The idea has merit and it is not a mandate, but I fear the unintended consequences.Like Rivals.com reporting whether a commitment is for a one-, two-, three- or four-year scholarship. I'm sufficiently frightened.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or email@example.com