There is nothing like living in South Florida leading up to National Signing Day -- where every year a handful of blue-chip high school football players will go down to the wire before making their decision. And knowing if your school lands a couple of those players it could have an immediate impact on how good your team can be.
Take Duke Johnson for example. The running back from Miami Norland Senior High School chose to go to the University of Miami just last year and in his freshman year won games almost by himself with his big plays. Or how about Amari Cooper. Last year he stood with me on the stage of our National Signing Day live special and just a few weeks ago he was catching 2 touchdowns for Alabama in their national championship win over Notre Dame.
For everybody that's a college football fan, you understand the importance of a good recruiting class. It's equivalent to the NFL Draft except you can grab as many kids as you have room for. Great recruiting classes mean more wins in college which generates more money and more exposure.
I have lived in South Florida for more than 30 years and I feel the pride of watching high school players turn into NFL stars. Frank Gore from Coral Gables High plays for the 49ers. Andre Johnson from Miami High plays for the Texans. Stephen Tulloch from Killian plays for the Lions. Geno Atkins from St. Thomas Aquinas plays for the Bengals. Willis McGahee from Central High is still going strong in Denver. Antonio Brown from Norland High plays for the Steelers. The list goes on and on in South Florida. Matter of fact, Miami-Dade County has more active NFL players than any other county in the country.
More than a hundred South Florida high school football players will go to college on scholarship to play next year. From Ivy League to SEC, millions of dollars are spent by universities in their recruiting budgets just to come to Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Think about that. Hotel rooms, rental cars, restaurants -- recruiting is big business and the hotbed is the tri-county area.
South Florida has always taken pride in their high school football and there's just so much talent. Just look at recent history: Miami Northwestern High School and St. Thomas Aquinas were named national champions. Central, Norland, Booker T. Washington all have won state championships over the past couple of years and University School in Davie was just ranked the #1 small school team in the country by Max Preps.
So forgive me if I feel like a proud papa and enjoy the recruiting so much. I'm counting down the days to National Signing Day and excited to be part of it.