You know what today is? Mike, Mike, Mike.
Yes, it's Hump Day. Yes it's even National Weather Person Day — so workplace-appropriate and non-awkward interweb hugs to David Glenn and Paul Barys and the rest of the forecast gamblers out there.
And those are important. But it's also national signing day, the first Wednesday of February when college football's future takes its first big step on the big stages across the country. That also means that with the modern technology of the world, this is the biggest day in the world for fax machines. It's so big the good folks in Knoxville have dressed their fax machine up for the occasion.
Giddy-up. And as a reminder, we have a slew of talented folks spread across the South to cover the event and there will be a slew of stuff here on timesfreepress.com all and more in tomorrow's 10-pages TFP Sports section
From the "Talks too much" studios, if you signed a letter of intent in invisible ink is it still binding?
There are a few folks we know that take today as a vacation day every year to follow the news as it happens. In a lot of ways, that's one of the good side of our day job in that are bosses surely would not be upset with us following recruiting news and other sports happening from our desk. So it goes.
Most of the work has been done for the area college classes and fans of UT and UTC should be smiling this day. Georgia likely will close with a five-star — defensive end Lorenzo "don't call me Clarence" Carter — which is another reason to smile. Alabama has one of the three best recruiting class of all-time, and the only Tide person that won't be truly pleased today is Nick Saban.
So where does that leave the guys that dying for the drama? Well, here are five storylines to follow:
• What does Rashaan Evans do? Evans is a five-star linebacker from Auburn High School whose father played at Auburn and whose mother graduated from Auburn. He will pick today between Auburn and Alabama, and if Saban slides in and snags Evans it would be one of the biggest coups in recent memory and solidify Saban as the Ali/Jordan of recruiting. This would be even more impressive that snagging five-star Rueben Foster last year, and Foster had been an Auburn commit for more than a year and had AU tattooed on his forearm for crying out loud.
• How does Vandy finish? New coach Derek Mason has batted 1.000 with his sound bites. From his opening press conference to telling the Tennessean's Jeff Lockridge for a story today that "I'm not one to wait around the fax machine," Mason has been cool and impressive. We like the guy. That said, the departure of James Franklin gutted a top-25 signing class and before a week flurry, the Commodores had nine commitments. They are up to the 15 neighborhood today and are hoping for a surprise or two.
• Congrats to all the local players who put pen to paper today. It doesn't matter if it's to Alabama or Abilene Community, enjoy today and the challenges ahead.
• Mocs on the move? We believe the Mocs will land a top-five FCS class and we know the coaches should be proud of the group it has assembled. The lone question will be whether any bigger schools slide in at the 11th hour. Here are a couple names we know UTC coaches fans will breathe easier when the paper work arrives:
• Here are a few ncommitted big-time guys and our prediction where they sign: Adoree' Jackson — USC; Lorenzo Carter — Georgia; Rashaan Evans — Auburn; Ermon Lane — FSU; Malachi Dupree — LSU. There's a real chance the SEC will have seven of the top 10 classes in the country at the end of the day.
Buckle up Bluto, because nothing is over until we decide it is.
Braves doing deals
Atlanta made quick, decisive and important decisions and acted on them. No, not the city, the Braves silly.
Atlanta locked up first baseman Freddie Freeman for eight years with a $125-million deal. Great move for the Braves. Yes, Freeman is a 20-or-so-homer-a-year guy, but he means so much more to the team than that. He is a future Gold Glove-winner who will hit around .300 every year for the foreseeable future. He also is a great clubhouse guy and allows the Braves to skip "Who's your leader?" questions for the better part of the next decade. Plus, he's all of 24, and eight-year deals for 24-year-old are way better than 10-year deals for 30-year-olds.
Earlier Tuesday the Braves announced that Jason Heyward had agreed to a two-year, $13.3 million deal. Here's guessing that the timing of the releases of those announcements was not by accident.
The Braves last arbitration-eligible player in closer Craig Kimbrel, someone we believe is worth the big money, one-year deal he'll get and someone that ShowinKent thinks is more a product of his environment. It's the nature/nuture debate of baseball closers.
Scheduling a tough non-conference foe in the middle of the conference schedule is an interesting twist. UTC did it with somewhat ugly results in last night's 74-63 loss to Eastern Kentucky.
It has it's merits and it's shortcomings. When we get Will Wade back on the Press Row radio show — which will be all-signing day, all-the-time today from Thunder Creek Harley off Lee Highway — we'll ask him if he'll do that again.
Here's the 4-1-1: UTC turned it over a bunch to a team that thrives on turnovers. The Mocs have enjoyed a stellar 2014 by imposing their will on foes. Last night UTC was the imposee rather than the imposer. So it goes. Davidson was a meltdown mixed with a debacle and a disaster. EKU was a loss. They happen. Now we pick up and move on to the next one.
We will say that we'd really like to see the Mocs develop a consistent No. 3 option on offense. More on this to come.
This and that
— John Elway said the Broncos "came up short" in the Super Bowl. In related news, officials said the Hindenburg came up short on it's landing and the Titanic came up short in its maiden voyage. Short? Short? Nothing is short until we decide it is. Let's ask short expert Verne Troyer.
— Richie Incognito's suspension has been lifted. This whole Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga has been like a steroids snuff film. There's been very little of the moral outrage these sports "issues" cause and in mass it feels like everyone — including Martin and Incognito and the Dolphins and the NFL — wants to pretend this just didn't happen. And it will be interesting to see which player gets an NFL job first after all that has transpired.
— Sizable game for the Vols tonight considering they are on the road against a Vandy team that is struggling. Let's see how this plays out, hmmm. How about a Fresca?
We had some fun on the radio and we'll see if we can continue here with the following questions:
Who is the biggest college football recruiting bust you can remember?
Who in this year's recruiting haul for your team are you the most excited about?
Discuss. And hey, remember the mailbag and if you get a chance, we'll be at Thunder Creek Harley today and come on out, or call us on the Hardee's Hot Line at 423-648-1051.
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 ...