While colleges scramble to secure commitments before national signing day Feb. 6, the reality, from my vantage point, is that this could be a year in which rosters in August could be very different than those on signing day.
The reason is simple: academics.
Student-athletes are not technically accepted into a school and put on a fall roster until they are cleared academically. In many cases that clearance doesn't come until after June 7, the last ACT test date allowed to count toward eligibility. .
Pomp and circumstance will reign supreme Feb. 6 at various press conferences featuring kids wearing hats and faxing letters. Mothers will cry. Fathers and coaches will beam with pride. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald will fire off his annual rant at recruiting services.
Some of these players would like to think the process is over, that they're on their way to college. But some know full well they have a ways to go in the classroom first.
Kids all over the area are locked into ACT prep courses late at night, trying to squeeze one or two more points out of the standardized test. Others are locked into night classes, making up for a bad grade and hoping to clean up that messy transcript.
Who is to blame? A lot of folks.
What's crazier, though, is that colleges are offering kids scholarships knowing they likely won't qualify academically.
But why? For one, colleges can orally offer scholarships to anyone, knowing that legally those offers mean nothing. Plus, colleges are offering players earlier and earlier because they don't want to be outrecruited. The result: Colleges are offering kids who may be behind in school or have little chance of being academic qualifiers.
What about junior college?
Well, it used to be a viable option. But remember, thanks to budget cuts there is one junior college in Illinois, the College of DuPage, that offers football.
Good luck trying to land at an out-of-state juco, which generally have restrictions on the number of out-of-state players they can have on their rosters