Not every fan follows recruiting religiously. There are those out there that probably only know a few, if any, of the 13 prospects scheduled to announce their college decision live on ESPN on Wednesday.
But I encourage those fans to get to know these kids -- or at least watch their announcement -- because lot of them will be household names down the road. And if it’s anything like last year, a handful will play right away.
Here’s a look back at some of the bigger names from a year ago who waited until signing day to put on the hat of the SEC school they were planning to attend.
DE Byron Cowart
ESPN 300 rank: No. 1
2015 season: Most of you know probably remember Cowart’s name. If not because he was the No. 1 recruit in the ESPN 300, it was because of the drama that ensued his announcement. He put on the Auburn hat in the morning but didn’t fax in his letter of intent until later that afternoon. It was a long day for Auburn fans. But for all the headache he caused, he didn’t quite live up to the billing as a freshman. Cowart played in 12 games and finished with just six tackles. He also had six quarterback hurries but failed to register a sack or a tackle for loss.
DL Terry Beckner Jr.
ESPN 300 rank: No. 2
2015 season: It has been a roller coaster for Beckner over the past 12 months. Last February, he opted to stay close to home and sign with Missouri much to the delight of the fans. However, he struggled to adapt to the college game early in the season. Then around the middle of October, the switch flipped. In a four-game span -- all in SEC play -- he had 18 tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks. But just as he was starting to become a force, his season came to a crashing halt when he tore his ACL. And to add insult to injury, he was arrested last month for possession of marijuana and suspended from the team indefinitely.
OL Martez Ivey
ESPN 300 rank: No. 5
2015 season: When Ivey chose Florida last February, he was immediately penciled in as a starter. The Gators were thin up front, and he was the nation’s top offensive lineman. He didn’t start the first game, though. He actually missed the first two games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in August and made his debut against Kentucky in a reserve role. Ivey’s first start, at left guard, didn’t come until Week 7 at LSU. But the freshman started Florida's last eight games, including the bowl game, and was named to the All-SEC freshman team by the league's coaches.
DT Daylon Mack
ESPN 300 rank: No. 6
2015 season: As if Myles Garrett wasn’t enough to deal with for opposing SEC teams, Texas A&M added another top-10 defensive lineman in Mack last signing day. Mack chose the Aggies over Texas and TCU, and it didn’t take long before he was on the field. He recorded six tackles and one tackle for loss in the season opener against Arizona State. Two weeks later, he blew up the Nevada running back in a play that made highlight reels everywhere. All told, Mack finished with 32 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
ESPN 300 rank: No. 9
2015 season: It’s going to be hard for Jim McElwain to top his first signing day at Florida. He landed Ivey (see above), Jefferson, Antonio Callaway and Jordan Cronkrite, among others. All four made significant contributions as freshmen. Jefferson, ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 300, got stronger as the season went on and finished with 29 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He was one of three Gators named to the All-SEC freshman team. Fans love him now, but they were nervous when he waited until the following Monday after signing day to fax in his letter of intent.
Other notable SEC signing day announcements