Signing-day dramatics have produced classics

Signing-day dramatics have produced classics

February 3rd, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Alabama starting left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio committed to Auburn on national signing day in 2011 but signed his letter of intent three days later with the Crimson Tide.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

There was once an era in college football recruiting when touted prospects sent letters of intent to their schools of choice without any fanfare whatsoever.

Those national signing days are long gone, of course, replaced instead by 10 hours of coverage on ESPNU and theatrics such as holding an English bulldog to announce a commitment to Georgia. Bizarre signing-day incidents have increased in recent years with the enhanced scrutiny, and Wednesday brings the possibility for more.

The following are five of the most memorable:

1. CYRUS KOUANDJIO (2011)

The nation's No. 1 tackle prospect out of Hyattsville, Md., was torn between the previous two BCS champions, Alabama (2009) and Auburn (2010). His older brother, Arie, had signed the year before with Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, but Cyrus took his last official visit to Auburn.

On signing day, Cyrus woke up and posted on his Facebook page that he was "utterly confused." He went on national television and committed to Auburn but did not sign.

"Kouandjio was definitely a strange one," longtime analyst Jamie Newberg said this past week. "You could sit there and watch that, and he was not happy at all to be an Auburn Tiger on signing day live on TV. That was interesting."

Three days later, Kouandjio quietly faxed his letter of intent to Alabama.

Update: The 6-foot-6, 311-pounder started at left tackle this past season for the Crimson Tide and has two national championship rings in two years at Tuscaloosa. Kouandjio is expected to be a first-round selection in the 2014 NFL draft should he elect to forgo his final year of eligibility.

2. JONATHAN COLON (2000)

In the two weeks leading up to signing day, the heralded 6-7, 300-pound tackle from Miami Central High committed to Miami on two separate occasions and committed to Florida twice as well.

When it came time for the letter of intent, Colon signed one with the Hurricanes and one with the Gators.

The NCAA permits recruits to sign just one letter, and in the rare event two are signed, the earlier one is binding. Colon's letter to Miami was dated at 8 a.m. Wednesday, which was one hour after prospects could start signing, and his letter to Florida was signed at 10 a.m.

So he was a Hurricane, right?

Colon's mother, Neida, revealed to the Miami Herald that a woman representing Miami came to their house the night before with what she described as scholarship papers. Neida was nervous that her son might lose a scholarship, so she signed them, not realizing it was a letter of intent.

Neida wanted her son to go to Florida, while Miami was the choice of his father. Hurricanes coach Butch Davis did not put up a fight when Florida's Steve Spurrier appealed to the NCAA, and the letter to Miami was voided.

Update: Colon was good but never great for the Gators, playing in 43 career games (2001-04) and making 22 starts. He did not play in the NFL.

3. ANTONE SMITH (2005)

Rated among the top 25 national prospects by Rivals.com, the 5-8, 181-pound running back from Pahokee High School entered signing day having not reveled whether he would stay close to home at Miami or venture north to Florida State.

It was not a classy moment for Classie Smith, Antone's mother.

Hoping to see her son play for the nearby Hurricanes, Classie started sobbing at the ceremony when her son chose the Seminoles. Smith had kept his mother in the dark along with everyone else.

"He never told me," she told the Palm Beach Post after composing herself. "I wish he had told me."

Update: Smith rushed for 2,255 yards during his 2005-08 Florida State career and was not selected in the 2009 NFL draft. He has played in 33 games the past three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, mostly on special teams, and has one career carry for minus-3 yards.

4. KEVIN HART (2008)

Hart spent signing day apologizing for orchestrating an announcement ceremony five days earlier in which the 6-5, 290-pound lineman from Reno, Nev., declared that California had beaten out Oregon for his services.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported on the ceremony, in which Hart repeatedly praised Cal coach Jeff Tedford. By Monday, athletic officials from California and Oregon said Hart never was recruited.

In a statement through the Lyon County School District, Hart said he wanted "more than anything" to play football at a major college program.

"When I realized that wasn't going to happen, I made up what I wanted to be reality," Hart said. "I am sorry for disappointing and embarrassing my family, coaches, Fernley High School, the involved universities and reporters covering the story."

Update: Hart took some time away from football before signing with Feather River Junior College in Quincy, Calif. Last February, he signed with Division II Missouri Western State University, where he redshirted this past season and has two years of eligibility remaining.

5. FLOYD RAVEN (2011)

Raven was a four-star cornerback from Reserve, La., who earned scholarship offers from Arizona, Michigan, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Utah.

The 6-2, 180-pounder committed to Texas A&M, but his mother was so adamant about Ole Miss that she forged his signature and sent the letter of intent to Rebels coach Houston Nutt. After being made aware of the situation, Nutt told Raven to do what he wanted.

Raven then put his signature on a letter to the Aggies.

Update: Raven had 16 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception this past season as an A&M sophomore.