View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 2/8

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: February 8, 2011 - 9:39 PM

The official day for fall sports athletes to sign letters of intent has come and gone. Each year in February football players from across the Metro make their commitments official when they sign a legal contract to accept a scholarship.

There is always a lot of excitement that surrounds these signing ceremonies no matter what the size. For the player it is nice to be wanted, for the parents it is a proud moment to see your child earn money to go to college and for the coach it is an honor to see players take the next step.

In most cases it is a win-win for everyone. Last week there were hundreds of signing ceremonies across the country and many were broadcast on ESPNU as the network aired 10 straight hours of coverage related to signing day.

To say the day has become an even is an understatement. I’ve been covering signing day for all high school sports for the last nine years and it gets a little bigger each year. Part of that is the exposure of the athletes and part of that is media driven.

ESPNU promoted its coverage as a way to see how all of these great college football programs would be built. It is great to think of it that way, but much like a Major League Baseball draft recruiting is a crapshoot. In baseball they draft for 30 or 40 rounds and a team is lucky if two or three players from that draft end up being major league impact players. The rest of the players drafted are there simply so the top notch players have a team around them as they rise through the minors.

College football has a little higher success rate than baseball but the same theory holds true. You recruit 15-25 players in a year hoping to get 5-8 starters out of that class. If a program can do that every year it should stay competitive.

That being said how many of those 20 players that sign a letter of intent actually see playing time in their four years? That number is probably around 50 percent. The other 50 percent ride the bench, quit the program or never even set foot on campus.

That is a sobering thought as we all bask in the glory of signing day. It’s a great achievement to be offered money to play sports in college but not everybody is a three-year starter looking toward the NFL or just getting a chance to start or play at any level of college football.

Many sign and never see the game field or decide playing college football isn’t for them. There is nothing wrong with that. Going to school and playing a sport isn’t easy and it’s not for everyone. I had one veteran coach in the Metro tell me that kids sometimes just want to be wanted and when it comes time to put the pads on for a college team the desire is gone.

We should celebrate the signings but we should also recognize the signing isn’t the end of a journey, but simply the beginning of a new and more difficult one.

Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send e-mail to