National Signing Day is upon us. Just hoping there will be a few funny stories today to balance out all the discouraging shell-game interplay between coaches and players.
There have been some good tales through the years, the taller the better, and with Jim Harbaugh in the recruiting business, the entertainment value can only improve.
Last year the jet-fueled Michigan coach actually slept over at the house of a top defensive end prospect from Phoenix a few weeks before Signing Day.
Hey, an in-home visit is an in-home visit, right? Harbaugh sat on the couch watching Netflix with the kid late into the night. Ate some banana bread. Drank some 2 percent milk. Then the coach curled up somewhere for a few hours of sleep and the next morning went to school with the recruit, 6-foot-7, 250-pound Connor Murphy. They actualy sat together in English class.
Here’s the real shocker. Murphy liked Harbaugh, enjoyed their time together and never came close to telling the coach to curb his enthusiasm and find somewhere else to be. When signing day came, however, Murphy committed to Southern Cal.
These grand gestures often pay off, however, like the time former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini challenged a 315-pound offensive line recruit to a wrestling match in his family’s living room. Only took a few seconds for the coach to be lifted into the air but the kid, an Illinois state wrestling champion, chose not to body-slam the coach. He signed with Pelini instead.
One of my favorite stories along these lines is from way back on Christmas Eve 1985.
South Carolina head coach Jim Morrison showed up that night at the doorstep of a highly-recruited quarterback named Todd Ellis. The coach came dressed as Santa Claus and dropped a packet of scholarship papers in the kid’s hands like a holiday gift. Shouting “Merry Christmas,” Morrison hustled over to his rental car and was off with a flash.
Ellis wound up going with South Carolina, setting all kinds of passing records, and he’s still committed today. He is the play-by-play “Voice of the Gamecocks” for the program’s radio network.
If you wind up hearing of something wacky like this for the 2017 Signing Day rush, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It beats reporting all the coaches crowing about their signing classes being exactly what they wanted, and pretending that the ones who got away weren’t really that much of a priority in the first place.