The 5-at-10 went live early today to celebrate one of college football's holidays.
From the ReCruitmas Command Center at the "Talk too much" studios, let's pick a hat...
Today is national signing day, the annual unofficial holiday for college football fans who get to learn the names of the next wave of guys that will offer their gifts and presence to the program for the next three-plus years.
Today, the soft verbals and silent commitments become formal and pronounced. Today, there will be a series of hat dances and presentations about which school this multi-star prospect picked.
We're planning a full-blown extra-ganza across the website today with full details from across the SEC, the South and the area with the decisions and the delays. We'll be in and out of each forum — here at the 5-at-10 and in the ReCruitmas Command Center in the main page of the site — so feel free to roam about today.
Good luck getting any work done. And good luck to your team.
ReCruitmas news to know
What to watch for (it's 6 a.m. right now and we'll update this all day)...
Tennessee is in it for Vonn Bell, Joshua Dobbs, Johnathan Ford and a slew of other guys. ESPN recruiting expert Tom Luginbill said the Vols are one of the teams to watch today. It could be a strong finish that propels UT into the top 20 nationally; it could be a frustrating finish in which the Vols are college football's personification of Ricky Bobby's poetic "If you ain't first, you're last," axiom. So it goes.
Georgia is in it for Laremy Tunsil, the top-rated offensive tackle in the country and is an outside player for Montravious Adams. Side note: If the 5-at-10 clam has another addition, we would consider naming him or her in honor of a recent run of supremely talented and impressively named SEC defensive linemen. How would Barkevious Jadeveon Montravious Greeson grab you? We'll him Jay for short. As for Georgia's last two targets, Mark Richt and Co. likely will be on the outside looking in, but still will have a top-10 class with more than 30 signees.
Alabama is going to close with a flurry. They are a finalist for Bell and a slew of top-ranked guys. Alabama will finish with the top-ranked class. Again.
Around the SEC, Auburn could close quickly since it is in the mix for Ford, Adams, and a few other prominent names. Vandy will ink a top-20 class. Ole Miss will land a top-6 or top-7 class and could land the top three players in the country according to the 247sports.com rankings.
Locally, Bell picks at 10:05 on ESPNU.
Defending the hysteria
David Cook wrote a column today about how the valedictorians should have their own signing day and how we should celebrate academics as much as we do athletics. It's a well-measured and well-written column. He even wondered about the pomp and circumstance afforded the ceremony for Vonn Bell's decision today and how it will be broadcast on national cable TV.
To be fair though, the following points must be considered:
First being your class's valedictorian is way, Way, WAY more common and accessible than being a football prospect of Vonn Bell's measure. Consider this: We have been at the TFP sports department since 2002, so with let's say 60 high schools in our coverage area, we'll have had 660 valedictorians (maybe more if there were some ties) in 11 years. In those 11 years we have had three five-star football prospects — Gerald Riggs, Da'Rick Rogers and Bell.
Second, this is competitive sports, and not everyone gets a turn. You want a fair and equal platform, go play Upward Basketball. In fact, sports may be the final arena where we are even close to a true meritocracy any more, and for our dollar, that's both excellent for sports and sad for the other walks of life.
This is not to diminish the achievements of good students and high-academic achievers. But the next time 100,000 folks show up for a chemistry experiment, let us know. And a lot of the excellent students at UT or Alabama or Ohio State (ironically, Bell's three finalists) enjoy elite facilities and elite opportunities and elite experiences because of the efforts and exploits of those three school's elite athletic departments.
And you want to know what makes elite athletic departments? Elite athletes like Vonn Bell.
This and that
— Michigan and Ohio State played a highly entertaining college basketball game last night. Two quick things: We're officially on the Michigan bandwagon; the Big Ten is a combination of 1980s Big East and 1990s ACC. Good times and there's a tough match-up almost every night.
— As entertaining as that game was as stunning as Arkansas' thumping of Florida was.
— The Feds have a new investigation in Lance Armstrong. Duh. In other news, tomorrow will be Thursday.
— Manti Te'o has decided to take a break from Twitter. Is this the real Twitter or an imaginary Twitter? Also, after everything that has happened in the recent controversy, shouldn't Manti Te'o take a break from the internet in general. Here's an idea? Go outside, interact with people.
— In case you missed it, the creators of Monopoly have been running a vote to see which game piece will be discontinued. The shoe, iron or wheelbarrow will be removed an replaced by one of the five finalists: a robot, diamond ring, cat, heliopter or guitar. We'll go bye to the iron and hello to the helicopter.
It's prediction time:
What do you want for Re-Cruitmas? Will Tennessee crack the top 20 or fall into the 30s? Will UTC hold its class together? Will Alabama be crowned the winner of the day?
Or better yet, will any of it matter in four years? Who will be a five-star bust or three-star bonanza?
And to be fair, let's look back the at nation's top 10 classes and top 20 players from four years ago:
Top 10 classes in 2009
1) Alabama — won the BCS title
2) LSU —
3) Ohio State — undefeated in 2012
4) USC — preseason No. 1; got Kiffin-ed
6) Georgia — ranked No. 2 going into SEC title game
7) FSU — won ACC title and still underachieved
10) Tennessee — This was Kiffin's class that included five-stars Bryce Brown and Janzen Jackson. Ouch-standing. Of the highly ranked members of that class, Zach Rogers was likely the best contributor.
Top 20 players from 2009
1) Bryce Brown — Tennessee (now in the NFL)
2) Rueben Randle — LSU (now in the NFL)
3) DJ Fluker — Alabama (projected a second-rounder this April)
4) Sheldon Richardson — Missouri (projected a first-rounder this April)
5) Matt Barkley — USC (projected a second-rounder this April)
6) Trent Richardson — Alabama (first-rounder last year)
7) Russell Shepard — LSU (enters the April draft as a wildcard)
8) Devon Kennard — USC (enters the April draft as a wildcard)
9) Vontaze Burfict — Arizona State (went undrafted last year, caught on as an undrafted free agent, led the Bengals in tackles)
10) Jelani Jenkins — Florida (enters the April draft as a potential second- or third-round guy)
11) Dre Kirkpatrick — Alabama (first-rounder last year)
12) Manti Te'o — Notre Dame (dated a number of girls in the Niagra Falls area and projects as a first-rounder this year)
13) Ray Ray Armstrong — Miami (ran into trouble at the U, transfered to Faulkner Univserity and enters the draft this April)
14) Alex Okafor — Texas
15) Jacobbi McDaniel — FSU
16) Donte Moss — UNC
17) Janzen Jackson — Tennessee
18) Garrett Gilbert — Texas
19) Patrick Hall — USC
20) Craig Loston — LSU (he's returning this fall for his redshirt senior season)
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...