National Signing Day is proof that college football recruiting has become a spectator sport.
“The game of football is bigger than it’s ever been. And everybody is looking for someone to make them better,” said North Fort Myers Head Coach and former NFL star Earnest Graham. “It means more wins, it means more money for universities.”
It also means a lot of attention for the top high school prospects.
“It’s been out of hand for years,” said Naples Head Football Coach Bill Kramer. “I don’t even like talking about it”
Starting this month, college football coaches can now send recruits unlimited text messages.
“These kids are going to have 150 schools texting them all the time,” said University of Florida Head Football Coach Jim McElwain.
The NCAA regulates how much a coach can visit a recruit in person.
They have “contact” periods, where coaches can visit recruits at home, and “evaluation” periods where they can visit at school or at games.
During “dead” periods, coaches can’t have any in-person contact.
But, coaches can text, email and send letters to juniors and seniors at any time.
North Fort Myers Junior Zaquandre White is the top-rated running back in the state of Florida. He gets so many letters, it’s hard to keep track.
“Probably like 20 a day when I come home, and my mom just has them,” said White.
“It gets kind of annoying.”
Social media has also made it easier for fans to connect with top recruits.
“People around the world just hit me up out of nowhere,” said White.
Naples defensive back and Tennessee signee Tyler Byrd has already gotten fan mail.
“After I did my periscope thing where I changed schools, someone found my address from my periscope and sent me mini helmets to sign,” said Byrd.
“That was weird.”
For college coaches, it’s a matter of keeping up.
“I see a lot of things with it,” said McElwain. “At the same time, as long as everybody’s doing it, that’s what you have to do.”
For high school recruits, it just means adapting to the process.
“I’m glad I’m signed and I don’t have to worry about it anymore,” said Byrd.