COLUMN: National Signing Day provides Christmas-like excitement
To a lot of college football fans, National Signing Day is a national holiday.
Some of them get into it so much they call it the sport’s Christmas Day.
And can you really blame them?
Unless your team wins the national championship, it’s the day signifying the newest class with a chance to come in and rebuild a program working toward bringing home the crystal football.
But there’s only one problem with National Signing Day: For the most part, you don’t get to open a large portion of your presents when you first receive them.
There are some presents you want to open immediately and put to full use as early as possible.
Then, there are the other presents that are not quite ready to be taken out of their packages, which is the vast majority of the 24 incoming players.
There are some exceptions, though.
Last season, two true freshmen — wide receivers Durron Neal and Sterling Shepard — played key roles on offense, providing former OU quarterback Landry Jones with extra options in the slot.
Then there’s the California trio made up of former OU players Kenny Stills and Tony Jefferson and senior running back Brennan Clay, who headlined as key contributors from the Class of 2010.
Stills and Jefferson were regular starters during all three years at OU before deciding to declare for the NFL Draft following the Cotton Bowl Classic in January, and Clay has shown signs of greatness at various points of his time in Norman.
And who could forget probably the greatest freshman to come through Sooner Nation during the Bob Stoops era?
Former OU running back Adrian Peterson — who was just named the NFL Most Valuable Player — not only was the best player on the Sooners’ roster, but he almost became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
Although these players and other true freshmen in OU history have made a significant impact on the team, the vast majority of players makes smaller impact or gets redshirted.
The Christmas presents get put nicely on the shelf, left untouched, but continue to be cared for until they are ready to be opened and played with.
This round of Sooner signees has a few players — especially on defense — who will be fighting for playing time during the upcoming season.
With graduates and early-departing juniors leaving gaping holes in various positions, there may be a good chance Sooner Nation will see more newcomers than in previous years.
Still, the new Norman residents are going to have to work hard and earn any playing time they get, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said, who brought in his first recruiting class during his second tenure at OU.
“Let’s get one thing clear: People have spoken about promising kids positions; I think that’s ludicrous,” he said. “You earn everything you get here at the University of Oklahoma.”
“These guys will all earn their way through the process of coming in here in the summer and earning their playing time.”
Jono Greco is a journalism graduate student and assistant sports editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @jonogreco13.