T’was the night before Signing Day, and all through the land, not a fax machine was stirring, by dial or by hand.
The fans were home thinking of Signing Days past, and visions of ceremonies, crazy and fast.
As we all await news of 2017’s best, let’s think back on the wildest of Signing Day fests.
THE ODDEST SIGNING LOCATIONS
Dallas Carter star Derric Evans signs for Tennessee from a hot tub
Back in the days before National Signing Day was the Christmas of college sports prognostication, the traditional hat choice ceremony was born on the same day that a teammate made one of the strangest and most striking Signing Day decisions in memory.
Of course, we’re speaking about Dallas Carter’s Derric Evans, who signed for Tennessee while luxuriating in a hot tub. He never did play for the Vols, instead winding up in prison in connection with armed robberies, but the site of his official signature remains the jumping off point for some of the more unique options that players have taken since.
Jessie Bowman signs with Mississippi State from jail
Speaking of the penitentiary, a former Mississippi State player actually signed his future over to the Bulldogs while he was sitting in a jail cell. Jessie Bowman was already enrolled at a junior college when he was charged with a burglary, and agreed to spend a week in jail to avoid a felony charge. It just so happened that week coincided with junior college signing day, which meant Bowman signed his letter of intent from the prison where he was housed. Unlike Evans, Bowman actually did become a contributor at Mississippi State, and played for the Bulldogs in the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
THE BEST PROPS ARE PETS
Isaiah Crowell signs with Georgia after lifting bulldog puppy
There’s no question here: If using a non-traditional prop, go with a pet, particularly one that coincides with the mascot of the school you plan to choose. The first to take this approach was current Browns running back Isaiah Crowell, who chose Georgia by lifting a bulldog puppy. Crowell’s choice was the clear highlight of National Signing Day 2011.
Michail Carter uses a HUGE bulldog to announce his commitment to Georgia
If Crowell’s bulldog was a puppy, Carter used a full-on pooch. Seriously, just look at this dog:
Ladies and gentlemen, we can rest assured that Carter was going to follow through on his pledge having already committed to a dog that large.
OTHER PROPS ARE FUN, TOO (ESPECIALLY CAKES)
Mecole Hardman commits to Georgia with commitment cakes, run-thru signs
No roundup of wild recruiting stunts would be complete without the epic circus show orchestrated by now-Georgia athlete Mecole Hardman in 2016. There was a full jersey, hat and gloves donned while Hardman ran through a giant pep rally-style sign. There were five cakes with logos of schools he was apparently considering, but not including Georgia. It was all enormously theatrical, and a lot of fun … and lucrative for at least one local bakery.
Chris Warren III chooses Texas by flipping a coin on stage
Current Longhorns running back Chris Warren from the Class of 2015, heir apparent to D’Onta Foreman, was so torn between Texas and Washington, in his childhood hometown of Seattle before the family moved to Houston, that he eventually decided to let fate decide where he’d go … with a flip of a coin, all on stage. He ended up with heads and the ‘Horns, which analysts always expected, but he insists only happened because of the side of the coin.
IF MOMMA AIN’T HAPPY, NO ONE’S HAPPY
Alex Collins’ mother steals LOI to keep him from Arkansas
Miami native running back Alex Collins was once committed to the hometown Hurricanes before he decided to spread his wings somewhere away from home. His mother didn’t approve, and when he decided to sign with Arkansas, she stole his paperwork. Seriously. She even hired a lawyer a day later to “represent the family’s interests,” before finally relenting and letting her son send his letter of intent on to Fayetteville.
Floyd Raven’s mother forges his signature on Ole Miss LOI before he lands at Texas A&M
If Alex Collins’ mother chose to register her disapproval by enlisting legal counsel, Floyd Raven’s mother did so by essentially going guerrilla. While Raven decided he would attend Texas A&M on the morning of National Signing Day, his mother was under the impression he had chosen Ole Miss, which he had previously told them was his choice. She faxed in his letter of intent even as he was announcing he would attend Texas A&M, creating mass confusion and, eventually, a ruling that Texas A&M would be his future destination. Raven played three seasons with the Aggies before he headed to the NFL as an undrafted free agent, where he eventually would up with the Bengals.
Markish Jones signs with both Clemson and Florida State
And what happens if you truly can’t decide? If you’re like Markish Jones, you hedge your bets by signing a letter of intent and sending it in to both schools. A wide receiver from Broome High School in Spartanburg, S.C., Jones first sent a letter of intent to Clemson, then had a change of heart and sent a letter in to Florida State. With the two schools at the height of their ACC intra-conference competition, both wanted to stake claim to Jones’ future, leading to a rare intervention on the part of the National Letter of Intent service. The ruling was that Clemson received the faxed letter first, so he had to stay in state, at least initially. He later transferred to El Camino Community College and, from there, with Cal, though he apparently never academically qualified to play in Berkeley.