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Article updated: 2/9/2012 8:38 PM
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The madness is done — until it starts over again
 

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The madness is done — until it starts over again
 

Signing day for football players always makes my list of favorite days of the high school sports season.

Not for sentimental reasons, although it's kind of cool to see the photos of young men signing their National Letter of Intent while wearing a hat from their chosen college.

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As nice as that image seems to be, my reasons are a little more cynical.

I personally enjoy signing day -- and I don't think I'm alone here -- because the excruciating recruiting process finally ends for those putting pen to paper.

Over. Done. And, unfortunately, see ya next year.

There are far too many cringe-worthy moments during the never-ending football recruiting season to find much enjoyment in it. In my opinion the experiences of some members of the Class of 2012 were especially cringe-worthy.

It's tough to feel too sorry for all-everything Glenbard West defensive lineman Tommy Schutt, regarded by some as the top senior recruit in Illinois. After signing with Ohio State, he'll play for one of the nation's top football programs under one of the top coaches in Urban Meyer.

The way Schutt reached that point, though, was tough. He had a massive number of offers from which to choose, but when he tried to give a verbal commitment to Notre Dame he was told the Irish no longer had a scholarship to offer. Same thing happened with Michigan.

So Schutt went to his next choice: Penn State. But in the wake of the scandal that tore through State College, there was no way Schutt could play for the Nittany Lions.

Enter Ohio State and Meyer, who was hired in November to revitalize another football program trying to emerge from scandal. The Buckeyes quickly swooped in and gobbled up Schutt, allowing him to finally rest easy about his college choice.

I can only imagine, though, what it was like for Schutt once the Penn State scandal broke. No doubt he was inundated by rival college coaches trying to take advantage of the timing.

Meyer's first recruiting class features eight players originally committed somewhere else, including four, such as Schutt, who were committed to Penn State. The reaction from fellow Big Ten coaches was less than pleased.

In fact Meyer recently was quoted at an Ohio coaches clinic of saying, "You're (upset) because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got nine guys who better go do it again."

This type of stuff has been going on for decades, and to assume Meyer's the only one doing it now would be naive. The problem now is that no recruit, and pretty much no coach, can make a move without it winding up in the whirlwind of social media.

It happened to Montini's Jordan Westerkamp, who entertained an offer from Notre Dame while committed to Nebraska. Same with Glenbard West's Johnny Caspers when he visited Illinois even though he was committed to Stanford.

Westerkamp and Caspers both followed through on their original commitments, but the attention they received from recruiting entities spanned far and wide.

Nothing escapes the eyes of recruiting gurus, especially in an environment where commitments are announced at news conferences and on nationally televised all-star game broadcasts.

If you missed the announcement by Louisiana defensive back Landon Collins during the Under Armour All-America game in early January, check it out on YouTube. It's one for the ages.

Surrounded by friends and family, Collins announced he was choosing Alabama over LSU. No cheers or hugs from anyone, not even his mother.

His mother, in fact, actually said "Go Tigers. LSU No. 1" when asked about her disappointment regarding her son's choice of Alabama. She has since charged Alabama coach Nick Saban with luring her son to the Crimson Tide by offering Collins' girlfriend a job on campus.

Warm and fuzzy, ain't it?

And speaking of LSU, Tigers coach Les Miles wasn't exactly thrilled when Gunner Kiel, the nation's top prep quarterback, chose Notre Dame over LSU at the last minute and signed with the Irish.

To a group gathered for the Tiger Gridiron Club's "Bayou Bash" Miles said of Kiel, "He did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program."

Nice. Do you think Kiel is thanking his lucky stars he isn't taking his chest to Baton Rouge?

This is just a smattering of the odd experiences football recruits go through during a given cycle. In the midst of the madness, though, here's hoping Schutt, Westerkamp, Caspers and all the others are winding up in the right spot.

And here's hoping the next 12 months aren't as cringe-worthy.

kschmit@dailyherald.com

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