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ILLINOIS - This is a date, first Wednesday in February that just about every high school senior that plays football circles, so they can finally and officially accept a college football *scholarship to an institution of their choice. Without a doubt, this should be one of the most celebrated events among all sports, regardless of amateur or professional status.

*remember is an annual scholarship not a four-year agreement

For various reasons, the scope of what will transpired yesterday is immense. First and foremost, it is an extension of education, an opportunity for young men to attain a useful four-year degree, grow socially, and eventually enter the workforce as contributing members of society. Truly, it is almost an out-of-reach task trying to surmise this experience in the framework of a blanket statement.

And yes, there are some young men who donít view the scholarship through those lenses at this point in their lives. They see this day as an opportunity to not only extend their playing careers, but to amplify the atmosphere and stakes Ė from competing in front of thousands of fans to playing for national titles. Academics are a mere means to an end.

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Now, I do remember a when NCAA football recruiting used to be about the team. It used to be about an individual school's program and how well they went about finding and signing the best the high school football game had to offer. The schools were the stars and the prospects were just a bunch of names on a prep school's roster sheet. They had little to no meaning to the college game until they showcased their talents on the field of play. Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that these are teenage boys, not men, who have wonderful, in some cases, amazing athletic skills.

Unlike college basketball commitments, college football signings are not anticlimactic. It didnít necessarily send tremors through the national landscape when John Wall signed with Kentucky. Essentially, is Lance Stephenson already on a farewell tour, representing the one-and-done athlete of today?

Football is a different animal! Thus, this affirms the significance of the National Signing Day decisions.

Unmistakably, the spectacle has heightened. Libraries and class rooms have been replaced with banquet halls, local restaurants and auditoriums to make these official announcements. As well, national media lights sometimes eclipse the hometown coverage, drowning all sense of intimacy with a sea of drama. Despite this ascension in mass appeal, I still find signing day uniquely rich.

And for every athlete that committed and who becomes a household name in the seasons to come, there will be dozens more that escape the adoration Ė those that complete their collegiate careers in steady, sound fashion, in a productive but muted manner. So, student-athletes and signees, cherish this momentÖ

Whether it is the nationís top rated running back deciding to stay home (in State) or an under the radar player representing a small city that doesnít even show up on Google Earth, the signings are almost immediately legendary. No matter if Akron, USC, Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Florida or Boston College, is your destination of choice, the focus today will center square on the student-athleteís shoulders. Today, you get your glory and the spotlight.

Remember one thing moving forward... "itís not about the cap you  put on but the young man underneath it. The focus is not the cinema that surrounds the announcement but the hours of processing that you put forth to get to this moment. And itís certainly not about the pen and letter-of-intent put in front of you, but the promise of what can be done with it."

On this day, the victors sit firmly at a table surrounded by family and friends, and are rewarded today by both their work in the classroom as well as on the field.

I just hope that institutions, and coaches, as well as the media, continue to give these same athletes the benefit of the doubt and the same level of praise as they move forward in the lives as they did on NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, February 3, 2010.

Be sure to visit the 2010 list of commitments from the Chicagoland area -click here.

according to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming - click here

1. Florida
2. Texas
3. USC
4. Alabama
5. Auburn
6. Oklahoma
7. LSU
9. Tennessee
10. Penn State

NOTE: Of the top 100 players, the SEC signed 32 while the Pac-10 got 21, the Big Ten got 16, the Big 12 got 15.







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