Have you ever looked through the list of signees of various schools after national LOI signing day and noticed that one special athlete who tends to be a last minute commit, and it doesn’t seem to really make sense why he would choose that particular university? Like that old Sesame Street song goes, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.” I’ve been doing this for a few years now and realized that I needed a name for those high school football players that don’t seem to choose the right college fit. Therefore, a personal nickname I have at work that evolved over many years, ShrineDog, has become the signature name of the award I enjoy “handing” out – in jest.
I can explain this a little easier if I go back one recruiting year from the 2014 signing day. For example, Alabama has had a streak of excellent running backs starting with Mark Ingram and his Heisman-winning season. His backup, Trent Richardson, may have been considered even better and started the following season. Richardson had a backup named Eddie Lacy.
Lacy was the starter after Richardson went to the NFL. The backup for Lacy was a true freshman named TJ Yeldon who played very well considering his lack of experience. At the end of the 2012-13 season, Lacy declared for the draft leaving Yeldon to enter his second year as the likely starter for the 2013-14 season.
This is why I find it very amusing, how Nick Saban can go overboard sometimes by offering scholarships to many elite athletes. One year he found himself signing four very highly touted running backs. Based on Scout, all four were in the top-15 running backs in the nation.
One, Derrick Henry, a five-star (platinum) athlete ranking at number four of all running backs, committed third of the four. Henry was definitely the golden crown of the runners in the class. Then the most awkward thing happened. On signing day, another running back committed and signed with Saban and the Crimson Tide. Alvin Kamara was ranked at No. 12 and found himself in some deep competition at the running back position.
My thought process would ask, “Is this kid from Alabama?” If he’s a local kid who always dreamt of playing close to home, then it wouldn’t seem so strange. Nope! Kamara is from Georgia. Then I ask myself, “Is he being recruited for another position?” Nope. Kamara is definitely a running back kind of guy. My next question is answered because TJ Yeldon is coming back since he will only be a sophomore with two more years of eligibility.
So, besides Saban being a hoarder, bent on ensuring he keeps talent from his competition, most of the SEC schools have tendencies to over-sign. There is no legitimate reason why Kamara would have picked Alabama for his own good. Hence, a ShrineDog Award goes to Mr. Kamara. Fast-forward a few months and we see that Kamara does struggle with some injuries at Alabama and ends up transferring to Hutchinson Junior College in Kansas. He plans to be recruited once again.
Not all ShrineDog recipients are as obvious as the story about Kamara. In the 2011 signing class for Notre Dame, I initially awarded the ShrineDog to Stephon Tuitt from Georgia for being the sixth defensive end to commit to the Fighting Irish that year. I then noticed that he was the third five-star (platinum) defensive end to sign which shifted my thoughts to a three-star athlete from Miami, Anthony Rabasa. He had about two weeks to ponder whether he should stick it out in South Bend with such tough competition and find his inner “Rudy,” or find a school closer to home to get actual playing time. His decision earned him a ShrineDog and Tuitt ended up being one of the better ends and made me look dumb for suggesting him.
I ask various questions regarding these winners of the ShrineDog and would love to know the answers to them. So, if anyone could enlighten me with the reason why some of these players choose to ruin their chances at playing in the NFL, I would appreciate it. Maybe Justin Hopkins at Duck Territory can offer some of his genius insight for me. Do they not have access to the internet to search the free recruiting sites to see the competition they are up against at the different schools? Do they have high school coaches that have poor judgment and advice for the football players wanting to go to the next level? Do the parents step in and give them their influential council without knowing the facts? Yours truly, the original ShrineDog, wants to know.
The next post will look at a couple players in the 2014 class that I feel may have serious ShrineDog potential. If you look close, you may be able to spot one or two before I tell you upon whom I would place the crown. Just a little hint, the SEC is usually a good place to start.
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