WESLEY CHAPEL — To illustrate how anticlimactic national signing day could be locally, we'll use an analogy involving another February pseudo holiday, Gasparilla.
Imagine only a handful of Pirates marching the streets of downtown Tampa amid a throng of bead collectors Saturday, while the others remain aboard the Jose Gaspar until well after the revelry has ended and the thoroughfares have cleared.
Well, for local recruitniks, a similar scenario will unfold today, the first day high school football players may sign letters of intent with a college program. No more than a half-dozen North Suncoast recruits are expected to sign today.
Pasco's Josh Johnson and Mylon Brown, Wesley Chapel's Kamran Joyer and Central's Kevin Grier will sign with Division I or I-AA programs, solidifying the oral commitments they made some time ago.
Springstead's Ben Noury will sign his financial-aid paperwork with Brown, an Ivy League school that doesn't offer athletic scholarships. Ridgewood tailback Sterling Ross, apparently bound for NAIA Quincy (Ill.) University, also could sign.
But many others, most of them destined for Division II or NAIA programs, won't sign for weeks. Some may even see their signing day push up against Memorial Day.
"It's a pretty complicated time," said Gulf coach Jay Fulmer, who will have no signees today. "I've had kids not make a commitment until late May or June."
The players who ultimately could sign is lengthy: It includes (but certainly isn't limited to) Ridgewood linebacker Tim Rearden, Nature Coast cornerback Mike Fields, Springstead quarterback James Mahla and Pasco tailback Jamall Haynes.
The reasons for the delay vary: academics, finances, even politics.
Marginal Division I prospects wait to see if any scholarships become available from larger schools who lose a signee for, say, academic reasons. Smaller schools wait to see whom the larger schools sign — and don't sign — before making their offers.
"I think a lot of the (smaller) schools wait because they want to see who ends up dropping down from the higher levels so they have access to some kids who slip through the cracks," Ridgewood coach Chris Taylor said.
Others, meantime, bide their time for financial reasons. Smaller programs offer only partial scholarships; Division III schools offer none. That forces some recruits to apply for financial aid, then wait to see if they qualify.
"A lot of it comes down to how much the kids want to do it," Fulmer said, "because really it becomes a financial situation."
Such isn't the case for Johnson, Grier, Joyer and Brown. Their signatures assure them of full scholarships for at least one year. This is their day.
The others? They'll live to sign another day.