CHRIS MOORE — National Signing Day just feels fairer now

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, December 15, 2021

National Signing Day used to be one of the last times a player entering college had an opportunity to exert some level of control.

With new Name, Image and Licensing rules and opportunities to enter the transfer portal, college football has begun to take off the mask of amateurism and reveal its true identity of a multi-billion dollar corporation that long made money off the backs of unpaid labor.

National Signing Day was always a weird conflict of emotions for me. It is great to see players continue to chase their dreams of playing professional football and have the sport pay for their education. However, the chance at the education was skewed because of the amount of time needed to be dedicated to the football field in order to be successful.

Everyone has seen the chance of a college athlete going pro are less than one percent.

The rule changes make is less depressing. College teams are signing sponsorship deals with teams to put a little money in the pockets of the athletes while they play.

National Signing Day has been a staple of college athletics for decades. For several years, the nation’s top recruits would line up on national TV on the first Wednesday in February and dawn the cap of the school they will attend the following fall.

In 2017, the NCAA changed a rule that would allow players to sign on an early signing day in December so students graduating early would not have to wait.

Most recently for our area, former Port Neches-Groves standout Roschon Johnson signed in December and graduated a few days later to attend the University of Texas in the Spring.

This year, Memorial defensive back Jaylon Guilbeau is expected to graduate and sign early and join Johnson in Austin to be a member of the Longhorns.

Quarterback Jah’mar Sanders, who is expected to sign his letter of intent to play at New Mexico, and defensive end Christian Thomas, who will sign with Northwestern State, will also join Guilbeau in signing early, but Thomas and Sanders will graduate in the spring.

More Titans are expected to sign letters of intent in February, along with players from Nederland and PNG.

For Sanders and Guilbeau, who are signing with Division I schools, the opportunity to make money early is real. Companies, especially in the college towns, are throwing money around to sponsor players or position groups.

Horns with Hearts announced plans to sponsor every offensive lineman at Texas with $50,000 annually to make charitable appearances and bring awareness to causes that impact their local communities.

There likely will be more initiatives like this emerge for position groups as universities and their alumni bases find ways to entice players to join their respective programs.

To those signing, congratulations and make the most of your opportunities. You are no longer signing your soul away and have a chance to join something that resembles a workforce.

 

Chris Moore is the sports editor for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at chris.moore@panews.com.