College Football National Signing Day: Your Team’s Future, Now


By Paul Schmidt and staff

This is almost like a holiday for many people, and doubles as the day that some people work the hardest.

I’m speaking, of course, of National Signing Day, when those football players who waffle all season long finally make a decision (or, as in the case of Terelle Pryor a couple of seasons ago, delay the inevitable for several days after signing day). Many schools will be disappointed after their teams lose commitments from players that they thought were in the bag, but hey, unlike basketball, this just happens in football.  You go steal someone else’s recruit and move on.

All day, I will be updating news and signings from ALL of the Big Ten’s teams, so check back here throughout the day for any new news.

Also, I should have some quotes from Ron Zook’s press conference later this afternoon, plus whatever goodies might come our way!


Key Commits: WR Darius Millines (FL), ILB Jonathan Brown (TN), QB Chandler Whitmer (IL), WR Ryan Lankford (FL), ATH Miles Osei (IL), T Mark Wilson (FL).

Key Losses: S Corey Cooper (IL), every other ESPN150 recruit the Illini were on…

Analysis: There will be some reaction from Ron Zook this afternoon, but this class is a WILDLY disappointing one, saved by the marquee signing of Darius Millines.  Millines is rated the 25th best WR in the country, and probably comes in and is the second best WR on the team — depending on your feelings on Fred Sykes.  He, quite obviously, can step in and play immediately, even if it’s just a limited capacity. The problem with Millines is that he does have 4.4 speed, but in a body that is 6-0, 171 pounds.  That’s not going to get it done — unless “it” is getting killed by a Big Ten-sized linebacker.

The rest of the class is a bunch of middling to upper middling prospects that have one key flaw or more. Jonathan Brown is an inside linbacker listed at 6-1,  225, but doesn’t have the closing speed to make a play on the outside. Miles Osei is a wildly athletic player without a position. Ryan Lankford is a WR listed at 5-11, 157! QB Chandler Whitmer looks like a really nice QB  and is expected to compete immediately for the starting job as he is already enrolled in school (however, this might be more of an indictment of the Illinois QB situation than any indication of his skills), but he only checks in at six feet tall — the list of QB’s that height who have been successful above the HS level at that height is pretty small….

All in all, the recruiting services aren’t all that kind to the Illini class, with both and checking the Illini in at 69th overall (that puts them last in the Big Ten in the rankings, but eighth in Rivals…). This isn’t the class that Zook needed to move his squad to the top of the Big Ten.

At his post-recruiting presser, Zook was obviously pleased with his class.  What’s he going to say, that he recruited 20 crappy players?

“If you go back and look at the last two classes, this class and the last one, I think that those classes are going to surprise a lot of people down the road,” Zook said.  “The strengths of this class are the lineman and obviously the receivers.”

Surprisingly, one thing this class didn’t need was time to put it all together — with the team performing as poorly as it has over the last couple of seasons, it would seem to make sense that the Illini staff would need to do a lot of last minute selling — but not so.

“This is the quickest I’ve put together any of my classes,” Zook said. “We didn’t get anyone today that we didn’t think were coming, but we did lose some guys right there at the end. I’m really excited about where we ended up and where we’re going to go. The guys we got here wanted to be here, and that’s the exciting part.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Illini did face some negative recruiting on the road.

“More negative recruiting, sure, I’ve probably seen more of it this year,” Zook admitted. “But we’ve got a lot of great things to sell. When you know a lot of the stories of this group of kids, that’s the part that lets you put things together and it’s what really makes this group of kids special.”

OK, so I don’t even 100% know for sure what the Zooker MEANT by the last quote, but one thing I do know is that he was excited about how the new coaching staff behaved as a unit for recruiting purposes. The Illini’s staff has only been together for a couple of short months, and still managed to hit most of their targets.

“Overall, I actually think it helped us, because it gave us a whole new list of names,” Zook said. “You get into the areas where you know people, not necessarily new names, but new areas, places we hadn’t gone. It gave us the ability to go jump right in there.”

Key Commits:
TE/DE Warren Herring (IL), DT Beau Allen (MN), LB Konrad Zagzebski (WI), S Frank Tamakloe (MD), ATH Manasseh Gardner (PA)

Analysis: Bret Bielema hasn’t ever been known for his huge recruiting classes, and this was a year that they could get away with that type of class.  Losing very few seniors meant that really they could afford to wait for many of their recruits to be ready for bare. Depth was gained, and not much lost in the process.

That being said, Bielema and the Badgers do have some talent coming in. Perhaps the best player coming in is Frank Tamakloe, a nice looking safety who has the potential to be an immediate impact type player. He’s got size, and good speed, and is a huge hitter that will affect the way receivers run their routes over the middle.

Garner is another solid defensive prospect, and though he hits like a linebacker will most likely also end up at safetyt unless he adds some weight (only checks in at 206 pounds).

No class in the Big Ten is as varied in the overall ratings as the Badgers are. placesthe Badgers fifth in the Big Ten at 33rd overall, while sticks the Badgers tenth — ahead of only Indiana — and ranks them 85th overall.  Time will tell which is closest, though the Badgers tend to do well with classes of the caliber — hard working, short on the superstars.

Why in the heck talk about Akron??  Because they signed two fairly high-profile guys from the Chicago-area, specifically….wait for it….SICA!!!!

Becoming a Zip is Giorgio Bowers from Rich Central, a running back that Tom Lemming says was the sixth best player in Illinois. He rushed for over 1,000 yards the last two seasons and 26 TDs.

From Richards — high school home of Dwyane Wade — comes Keith Sconiers. Sconiers looks like a nice big target for whoever the bad Zip QB is, logging in at 6-3 and almost 200 pounds.  I saw both of these kids play at some point in their career — and both can contribute.  Maybe not this season, but they certainly can be impact players in the MAC before their careers are done.

Key Signees:
The entire ESPN150 list.  OK, ok…not really, but four of the top ten recruits in the country: ATH Ronald Powell (CA), DT Dominique Easley (NY), ATH Matt Elam (FL), S Jonathan Dowling (FL).
Key Losses: Not a one…everyone they wanted, they got.
Analysis: Just an unbelievable class that some are calling the greatest of all time. As in the greatest recruiting class ever assembled.

Is it hyperbole?  Hard to tell. The Gators signed 15 players rated in the top ten at their position, 15 of their 28 in the class. 17 players were rated on the ESPN150, the top 150 recruits in the country. Four players were Parade All-Americans. Oh, and they signed both teams’ MVPs from the Under Armor High School All-American game.

So, the best?  I don’t know. But it certainly merits discussion.

The amazing thing is the results that Urban Meyer is producing, despite all of the rumors, conjecture and speculation surround him and his health. How could a man who, less than 6 weeks ago, walked away from coaching only to return 36 hours later, convince all of these young men to come play football for him despite the fact that it’s hard to say whether or not he will even BE there for the four or five years that the players will be?

Again, hard to say. But what isn’t is that Florida has certainly reloaded.



  2. Paul Schmidt says

    That is sort of true. Except that, coming from someone who went to a school without a football team, it can be completely discredited.

    You know, just like that.

  3. paulmbanks says

    I’m not the hugest fan of this day, as the most exciting thing that happens is what baseball hat a high school football player puts on. But we all love the NBA and NFL draft and this is sort of like a poor man’s version. Ok bad analogy, maybe more like the first day of free agency- if we already knew where each FA is going.

    Ok maybe that doesn’t help either, but it’s very important to our core demographic and it’s a huge day for a good chunk of our readers

  4. paulmbanks says

    In terms of the ILL disappointing class- I don’t know what to say. Is this just another degeneration in the death spiral that has been the Zooker era? Because everyone knows he’s a worse coach than Vinny Del Negro he can’t recruti anymore?

    I’m not ready to say that because look at all those great recruiting classes, and he did NOTHING with. What’s really sad is Benn’s recruiting class. What seniors in his recruiting class are you excited about next year??

    Then take a look at the big 3 blue-chippers from that class: Benn- not utilized enough his jr. year, and not 100% his fr year, JOsh Brent- off the team, thug who got himself in trouble and off the rotation, Martez Wilson- still waiting on him! quite a disappointment

  5. It’s like Valentine’s Day… a pointless, glorified day to make money for a bigger entity (i.e. ESPN) and to plug your sport in a time when nobody is talking about it… maybe if I lived in Big 12 or SEC country… but in the Big Ten, it’s 98% of the time, re-hashed information that we’ve known about for months… College hoops doesn’t need a signing day…

  6. paulmbanks says

    it’s true that it somehow makes “official” what we’ve already known for a long time I agree. kind of like how ESPN always steals someone else’s report and “confirms” that the news is now true and official because they have the “exclusive” and Bristol “broke the story” when everyone has known for days

    I agree Valentine’s day sucks, sucks to high heaven, but who’s the ESPN counterpart there? the jewelry/chocolate/greeting card companies?? I’m actually REALLY looking forward to the fact that one will be on my ass, pressuring me to make it “the greatest valentine’s day ever” this year. It’s like a weight has been lifted

  7. paulmbanks says

    by the way am I the only one who finds the “athlete” category when used in football to be extremely racist?? since 9/10 it’s used to designate an African-American who used to play QB being moved to WR or DB…like they tried with Anrwaan Randle El at Indiana (and it failed btw) or Steamin Willie Beamen in in Any Given Sunday during his college career.

    kind of a shitty thing to do, especially during Black History Month

  8. Hallmark is the ESPN of Valentine’s Day

  9. Paul Schmidt says

    As an FYI, Josh Brent may be back with the team this year. He is enrolled at Parkland getting his GPA back to where it needs to go.

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