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February 2, 2006

Sights and sounds of Signing Day

Signing Day Photo Gallery

The sights, sounds and notable quotes are a major part of the Signing Day experience. This year was full of several big moments and words from coaches, players, and figures that made the day one to remember.

It seemed from the first news of the day to the last, the Trojans were the big headliners with wall-to-wall news.

A third straight recruiting national championship was awarded to Southern Cal after some late commitments from four-star prospects Kenny Ashley and Jamere Holland.

Coach Pete Carroll said that this year's class was highlighted by some tremendously speedy weapons. In fact, Carroll says it may be the best in that regard.

"From top to bottom, this is the fastest class we've brought in," Carroll said Wednesday evening. "We also wanted to hit it hard in the skill positions and we did that, especially with the wide receivers, running backs and safeties."

Bowden still the ultimate closer

With USC taking home the national recruiting crown again this year, it was Florida State that provided its classic Signing Day drama with several late Seminoles signees. Head coach Bobby Bowden said that he sees the trend steering towards later decisions for the nation's top prospects.

"It seems like more and more players now are waiting until the last day to announce," Bowden said at the press conference. "The interesting thing is that I thought there was more suspense this year than any other year."

The suspense was provided, but with FSU coming in with the nation's No. 3 class, there was a lot of quality as well. That started and ended with a top flight offensive line class.

"We got six, and some of them are pretty dog-gone good. So we'll put them in there with the players that we've got and see if we can't be more fortunate as far as injuries are concerned," Bowden explained.

"We just felt we had to bring in a line of the future."

Deas provides the sights, sounds

While four schools - Auburn, LSU, Florida State, and Nebraska - waited on the announcement from Rivals100 defensive tackle Charles Deas, it seemed almost fitting that the quiet young man made a statement with his dress rather than his words.

His coach said before the announcement he heard something about a shock in his player's pick.

"He told me he was going to shock the nation, so, whatever that means," Dillard coach Mark James was reported as saying.

Deas certainly didn't shock that much with his pick for the LSU Tigers after making a final stop in Baton Rouge on his official trips.

However, the purple suit gave it away immediately and definitely fit the personality of the quiet, but creative young man. His suit, with matching hat, was quite a hit at the press conference and showed his true colors.

Louisville gets last minute decisions

One of the more memorable decisions leading up to announcement time was that of four-star defensive end Deantwan Whitehead.

Right before declaring, Whitehead said he was still struggling with making his choice.

"I'm excited about it, but I'm still stuck between a rock and a hard place," Whitehead said the night before. "My head is pounding, and it's not from me just getting my braids done either. I honestly don't know right now."

"I'm pretty sure it will come down to that last moment when I'm sitting at the table in front of all of those cameras."

Whitehead shocked many by picking Louisville over the in-state schools, Alabama and Auburn.

Spiller makes history

Clemson landed C.J. Spiller, the running back ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the state of Florida. the signing marked the first time in recent recruiting memory that the Tigers took the Sunshine State's top player.

However, being recruited by father Bobby Bowden for Florida State and son Tommy Bowden for Clemson was all the talk after the press conference was over.

"It was fun and very competitive, because both kept trying to get me," Spiller said. "One told me the other one was lying, but in a joking sort of way. The other one told me not to go to Florida State because they had too many running backs."

"Coach (Tommy) Bowden said if I went to Florida State, I'd be just another guy. So that part of it was pretty fun. In the end, Tommy won the battle."

Spiller made more history becoming the third five-star prospect to sign with Clemson during Bowden's era with the Tigers.

Morgan shocks public, family

Four-star linebacker Michael Morgan, after returning from Florida State, was expected to make his verbal commitment days ago to either the Seminoles or the in-state Aggies.

However, it came as a big shock to not only the public, but also to his own family members when he announced for the USC Trojans. Morgan kept it quiet until the big moment.

"USC was expecting me, but my whole family was surprised," Morgan said after his commitment. "People from my school are calling me because they thought I was going to A&M or Florida State. It's funny, but I'm a Trojan."

Morgan was just one of many top ranked players to join the USC class down the stretch that helped vault them to the No. 1 spot in the team rankings.

Natural disaster affects Robinson's timing

Four-star Tampa Chamberlain running back Kylan Robinson was expected to sign with the University of Miami in the morning hours of Signing Day, but it didn't happen.

It wasn't that Robinson changed his mind. Rather, his signing was delayed by a volcano. Robinson's mother, who needed to co-sign the Letter of Intent for it to be binding, couldn't get out of Alaska as scheduled because of a volcanic eruption.

"I was supposed to leave Tuesday morning at midnight on Alaska Airlines," said Barbara Hord, Robinson's mother. "(The volcano) blew twice Monday. And then they canceled the flight because the winds came, moving the ash into the Anchorage area."

Robinson got the letter signed just fine, but was concerned about his mom's safety at the time.

"She took a real late flight last night so she could get in," Robinson said. "She called on Tuesday night and said she would definitely be here."

Brown honors father after championship

While in-state recruiting is the lifeblood of the Texas program, on Signing Day Longhorns head coach Mack Brown talked about what he meant when he thanked the high school coaches around the state.

Talk came about that it was just a recruiting tool to bring up the coaches after a national championship, but Brown says it was much more than that.

"After 33 years of trying to get in that game, you're sure not thinking about what you're going to say down 12 when you get to the acceptance speech," Brown said. The first part of that statement started "in honor of my granddad and my dad who died."

"My granddad was one of the winningest coaches in Tennessee history and my dad was a high school coach."

When remembering his father he also wanted to make sure that coaches like his family members were mentioned during that special moment for not only the university, but the state in general.

"I felt like it was a thank-you to them and at the same time, we have such great football in this state, and so many great coaches, that are so scrutinized," Brown said. "I was so proud for the state of Texas because they wanted this moment again. I'm proud I did it because those were three people I wanted to thank."

"There are so many great coaches that could have been standing up there instead of me."

Nutt talks about the stresses of the process

When Mitch Mustain finally recommitted to Arkansas after taking one look around before Signing Day, coach Houston Nutt said that it was a big sigh of relief.

However, he also admitted that in a new age of technology and information, things can happen.

"It makes it tough, but that's what the world and the time that we're in," Nutt said. "There is more information on the Internet and he was unsure of the staff direction. We've never had a player of that caliber with national this and national that."

"When he came back though, he recruited well for us because everyone wanted to come play with Mitch."

Nutt also said that what else made it stressful was that he knew from day one which signal caller he wanted to sign.

"It's stressful on the coach because we were trying to recruit one quarterback," Nutt said. "We wanted one, we wanted Mitch Mustain."


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