No fireworks, no problem

CLEMSON - For better or worse, National Signing Day fireworks have spoiled the most loyal of loyal Clemson fans.

Eleventh hour commitments certainly do have their advantages, particularly when the four-letter network allows a soon to be signee a moment to put on a hat, hold a mascot, flash a hand signal -- whatever, to let hungry fans know where he'll be playing football later that year.

The prospect gets his moment in the spotlight.

Schools get a boatload of free publicity.

Even recruiting-centric sites like are able to cash in on the tense moments leading up to the announcement by Johnny Five-Star -- Thank you, Brent Venables -- on the first Wednesday in February.

It's good for business for and all its competitors. In a day and age when almost anyone with a pulse can launch a recruiting web site, we'll take it any way we can get it.

When you've got a front seat for the 24/7/365 beast called recruiting, it's easy to see why National Signing Day fireworks can turn into a headache for all parties involved.

The beast, which was once a niche market, has become big business.

The prospects are inundated with round the clock calls, texts, tweets, Facebook messages, e-mails and letters from reporters, coaches, friends, family and even perfect strangers looking for the latest scoop.

Coaches shell out thousands of dollars on travel expenses and spend countless hours of time and effort when there's a chance they'll miss out. All of it, sometimes, because a guy wants to see his face on TV for the next 360-plus days before the next signing day.

Last, and certainly least, there are the sites like that bug anybody and everybody they can with hopes of knowing who's going where before anyone else does.

It's one giant, massive headache for all, except for the fans, who make it all possible.

Clemson recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott would prefer to keep the headaches and fireworks at a minimum.

"If there was somebody, a guy like Chad Kelly, Carlos Watkins or Travis Blanks up there on stage choosing one of the hats, everybody around here would be high-fiving and going crazy," he said. "As a coach, I think you'd like to go ahead and have those guys in the boat. I think it says a lot about them, too, because they could have had the opportunity.

"They could have waited and made a big deal on signing day. They believed in Clemson and they were ready to go ahead and be committed. It just shows their commitment to coach [Dabo] Swinney and the school.

"Overall, I like to go ahead and have [prospects] committed. Every once in a while. Last year, what happened with Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward [on National Signing Day a year ago], that's probably a one out of every six or seven years kind of situation. I'd much rather have them signed and committed, and have their fax in before 9 o'clock [on signing day]."

Though National Signing Day 2012 didn't necessarily provide the unexpected fireworks for Clemson fans like previous years, there was still plenty for the Tiger faithful to get excited about on Feb. 1, 2012.

Swinney's "Elite Eight" early enrollees were already on campus. Their fellow 2012 commitments filtered their National Letter of Intent via fax throughout the morning.

The excitement continued with a morning commitment from 2013 athlete D.J. Greenlee, continued with a lunchtime hat show by D.J. Reader and ended -- for now -- with an late afternoon pledge by 2014 quarterback Deshaun Watson.

There was a share of disappointment, though. Highly-recruited prospects like Ronald Darby and Jamichael Winston opted to sign elsewhere. Longtime offensive tackle commitment Javarius Leamon wound up at S.C. State.

But considering nearly half of the 2012 signing class was already on campus before Wednesday and over three-quarters of the group was committed before the 2011 season even started, it was a pretty good day to be a Clemson fan.

The Tigers' 20-man class still ranks among the best 20 in the country.

Not too shabby.

"Always love this day," Swinney said. "This is literally like Christmas for an adult. To be able to be a part of National Signing Day at this level, [it] really just kind of jacks me up, when a young man chooses Clemson."

Merry National Signing Day, Dabo.

Only 360-something days until next year's Christmas in February. Top Stories