I said I would round up what happened with the first early signing day in college football history, but I’m not sure where to begin.
Spending part of my day in Fairfield was pretty fascinating as two major prospects made basically the exact opposite decision.
Jackson Carman was the main attraction, not only because he is the top-rated player in Ohio but because he did something that’s gotten somewhat rare over the years: Waited until signing day to announce his decision.
Malik Vann got the spotlight first, though, and made no bones about why he is going to Cincinnati: Luke Fickell.
He spoke passionately about the potential for making UC football a destination for local players, of returning to the glory days of the previous decade when the Bearcats made a couple of BCS bowls.
But at the same time, he said he is pretty much only doing so because of the coach.
It’s funny how one variable can unlock so many other positives, but then recruiting is one of those things where everyone’s decision is individual and you never know what’s going to be the deciding factor.
Meanwhile, Carman sounded more intrigued with the idea of getting away.
Ohio State being the dominant presence in Ohio seemed to work both for and against coach Urban Meyer. The prestige and success made the Buckeyes impossible to ignore (and they certainly got plenty of chances to impress the young man) but also might have made it impossible for them to win this one.
Sometimes being able to strike out on one’s own is important, and that is the case for Carman.
And yet as much as Vann and Carman are going in opposite directions, there was a common thread in their decisions, too: The coach they chose.
Carman, like many prospects these days, was obviously impressed by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who is building a monster of a program.
There’s no right or wrong here as long as Vann and Carman both truly made the decisions they believe are best for them. I just found that juxtaposition interesting…
Of course I’ve got to address the viral quote from Carman regarding something Swinney said to him about Meyer being “on the back end” of his coaching career.
I would say this is a fair assessment in the sense that Meyer probably has more years behind him than ahead of him, which is less likely to be the case for Swinney.
Now whether the Clemson coach, who at 48 is five years younger than Meyer, was implying (or outright said) age was going to catch up with the Ohio State coach sooner is unclear.
The followup question introduced age into the equation, and Carman acknowledged that was “an underlying factor.”
I think it’s fair to assume based on all the things he talked about in regards to making his choice, it was pretty low on the list.
Here’s that quote about what Dabo Swinney said about Urban Meyer that’s gone viral in case you missed it https://t.co/laWlvctatK— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) December 20, 2017
The idea Clemson is a program on the rise is accurate. The Tigers are the defending national champions, after all, and they haven’t been recruiting at an elite level as long as Ohio State or Alabama.
Ohio State reached the top of the mountain before Clemson, which ironically can work against the Buckeyes in this case, at least when it comes to perception.
Meyer is one who talks about the importance of momentum with programs all the time, and no one has more than the Tigers — even Alabama…
Of course, Ohio State still signed a higher-rated recruiting class than Clemson or Alabama.
The Buckeyes are not exactly in a crisis under Meyer even if there are some persistent questions tied to someof their losses over last three seasons.
Wayne’s Blue Smith was among the 21 players to sign with Ohio State yesterday...
He's a Buckeye; Wayne's "Blue" Smith stays put for now.https://t.co/diGtSjSHEY@daytonsports @journalnews @springfieldnews @WayneAthletics @WayneWarriorFB @WayneWarriorBB @bluesmith_ @a_reigelsperger pic.twitter.com/t6ZZCEKDBQ— Marc Pendleton (@MarcPendleton) December 21, 2017
This update from Clark County today https://t.co/4y4WgGAR4Q— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) December 21, 2017
Meanwihle, Fickell’s first full-year class at Cincinnati is ranked No. 46 as of today.
That’s quite an accomplishment, especially since the first season didn’t go so well on the field.
Xenia’s Meechi Harris was a signing-day pickup for Fickell after the talented receiver and return man dropped Kentucky a day earlier...
Finally how about Miami? Coach Chuck Martin’s class is ranked only ninth in the MAC at this point, but that probably owes at least something to having only 12 players at this point.
He implied Belmont defensive back Jadon Rucker-Furlow has the potential to greatly outplay his recruiting ranking thanks to his frame and relative inexperience.