CINCINNATI — National Signing Day carries a special significance on the Cincinnati-area high school sports calendar each February: It exemplifies the start of another journey for a student-athlete.
Wednesday is the first day NCAA student-athletes may sign National Letters of Intent in football, soccer and boys’ water polo.
As area high schools prepare to host celebrations and ceremonies throughout the day, let’s take a look at nine aspects to watch leading up to Wednesday morning:
1. Montgomery’s moment – Most area football players have made their verbal commitments public and will sign with that respective school. But Mount Healthy senior quarterback/athlete David Montgomery will announce his choice at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the high school auditorium. Montgomery, the Associated Press Division III offensive player of the year in 2015, will decide between Iowa State, Illinois, Marshall and Purdue. He rushed for 2,707 yards and 41 touchdowns and threw for 726 yards and seven touchdowns last season as Mount Healthy (8-4) was a regional semifinalist.
2. Sammons sweepstakes - CHCA senior lineman Prince Sammons was still considering his options as of Tuesday morning and there was no timeline for a decision, according to Eagles coach Eric Taylor. Sammons, who is 6 feet 8 and 275 pounds, was the AP Division V state defensive player of the year. Sammons took a visit to Auburn this past weekend. He’s considering Michigan State, Oregon, Duke and Auburn.
3. Surprises – Generally speaking, there is little drama on Signing Day in the Cincinnati area, but you better believe some college programs are trying to flip some recruits up until the last minute. I wouldn’t bank on anything, but there is always an element of the unknown until the college program announces its recruiting class.
4. Rise and shine, but take a deep breath – Football coaches and commits often refer to this as Christmas morning, and for good reason. There is a competition among some college football assistants to see which of their recruits get their National Letters of Intent in the quickest. Ohio State assistant Kerry Coombs is a coach who takes pride in this — he’s been the first Buckeyes assistant to file three years running. This is a very memorable morning for everyone involved – players, families, coaches, high schools and college programs.
Even five years after he signed with Notre Dame, Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph once told me he remembers going to breakfast with his family after signing with Elder at 7:30 a.m. He received a phone call from then-Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis shortly after. Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly once told me it was such a relief to sign his name on the document. A similar sentiment will be experienced by more 100 athletes on Wednesday.
5. A look ahead to 2017 – Three area players have made college commitments in the 2017 class, including St. Xavier quarterback Sean Clifford (Penn State), Winton Woods defensive lineman Jerron Cage (Ohio State) and St. Xavier offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst (Clemson), who made his commitment this past weekend. Some college program may look to snag some spotlight in Southwest Ohio with a recruit announcing a commitment on social media.
6. Will UC add additional local commitments? The Bearcats will sign Mason safety Ty Sponseller and add Mariemont wide receiver Collin Widecan and Roger Bacon wide receiver Jordan Williams as preferred walk-on players. Could Sammons have a change of heart and choose to stay home?
7. National perspective – Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is going on a public relations blitz for signing day by reportedly inviting the likes of Derek Jeter and Tom Brady. Twitter will be abuzz with any interesting developments undoubtedly.
8. By the numbers – The Indianapolis-based National Letter of Intent Program estimates approximately 11,000 student-athletes will sign NCAA letters of intent on Wednesday, according to National Letter of Intent Program Director Susan Peal. That includes football, soccer and men’s water polo.
9. Soccer standouts – Ohio Ms. Soccer Malia Berkely of Badin (Florida State) and Summit Country Day’s Charlie Maciejewski (Bowling Green), the Division III state player of the year, will sign on Wednesday.