Now that a full week has gone by since national signing day I think it is a good time to bring up the concept of de-recruiting. After college coaches praise the new signees and they prepare them for fall camp there comes a point where the coaches have to balance the expectations the players have coming in and with the realistic possibilities of the next year. As a fan base that de-recruiting period probably needs to happen after the bowl season and before signing day, because recruiting is a little out of hand.
Believe me, I get the appeal. After the spring game we feel very confident about our team's chances to win the conference title and make a run for a national title and that only precedes the season by 5 months. There are a lot of certainties in that situation. The roster is pretty much set and there's a good idea of what the depth chart looks like. Players are also known commodities. We really don't know anything about the players that Oregon signed. Any one of these guys could be a Heisman finalist. (Except the offensive linemen and kickers. Let's not get carried away here) Almost anything is possible three years from now when we'll see the newly signed players really make an impact. We could've already beaten the SEC twice in the national title game. Oregon could have won a couple Rose Bowls. Stanford might be bad again. Every one of us at some point has seen the recruiting rankings and said, "Fuck so and so's 3-star rating. Coach Neal is going to turn him in to the next Deion Sanders!"
It becomes hard to not believe in every positive in these players and only seen the Duck greats of the past in them. We've seen their highlight tapes where they are physically better than 99% of their teammates and opponents. If you've seen Joe McKnight's high school highlight tape, you know what I mean. It is almost impossible to do the math on what these guys will look like against other college players when we are watching them on film play kids trying to get through Biology and taking Practice SATs. Recruiting predictions by experts probably have a lower success rate than Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. mocking the NFL Draft every year.
I'm not saying that you can't follow recruiting and can't be excited or anything like that. It's not an issue so much at Oregon, or this blog especially, as other schools but it is painful to see people disparage a minor for where they decide to go to school. After their signing makes national TV and after being written about for a year a lot of these athletes aren't going to see the field for at least two years. The defensive lineman everyone is excited about getting is going to have to climb his way up the depth chart like everyone else. Just like everything can change in three years for us in our normal day-to-day lives, change can happen even faster in college sports where coaches are trying to win now and recruit a kid who is already better than the recruits the year before.
College football has become such big business and so important that every facet of preparation has the utmost importance. Strength and Conditioning coaches are well known and even grad assistant hires are paid close attention to. Recruiting has gotten perhaps more attention than it deserves. While there are many studies that show that college football is more about the jimmy's and joe's than the x's and o's, there is certainly a recruiting bubble of sorts. There are so many sites and articles on recruiting that it has to shrink a little.
Obviously, we love our Ducks and are going to love the players that sign no matter what because they chose to be here, but remember that life is not a track of certainty and that everyone doesn't meet great expectations. Often these players are dehumanized behind the pads and helmets and visors. But we have to remember that being human is what will determine just how far and how high these players go in college. Ultimately whatever hype the recruit brings in with them will have to be realized through proper coaching and making good choices while in college.