Today is signing day, which means that across America last night there were many confused, sleepless, undecided elite prep football recruits.
There also were many sleepless college football fans, all hoping that Joe Stud Blue Chip Recruit would wake up this morning and declare he would score touchdowns for their alma mater.
It is the first day when players may sign a letter of intent, officially tying them to their future schools.
For many top recruits, today is a formality, since they already have orally committed to a school. For many others who still are undecided, thousands of college football recruitniks await their announcement today.
In Florida, the highest rated undecided players are Hollywood McArthur All-American cornerback Bryant McFadden (6-feet, 180 pounds) and Pahokee All-American linebacker Eric Moore (6-5, 225).
Florida State reportedly is the favorite to land McFadden, ahead of Tennessee, Miami, Michigan and Georgia. Moore has told several news sources he will sign with the Seminoles or Volunteers.
Florida State, more than Florida and Miami, is relying on a late surge to fulfill its recruiting class. By the Seminoles' standards, it has been a lackluster recruiting season, and FSU is hoping to hear a good word, followed by a good signature, today from McFadden, Moore and several other Blue Chippers.
Among the Florida State hopefuls are: D.J. Williams (6-2, 220), an outside linebacker from Concord (Calif.) de la Salle and the Parade magazine national Player of the Year who also is considering Miami; O.J. Owens (6-0, 190), an All-American safety from New London (N.C.) North Stanley; and Travis Johnson (6-4, 250), an All-American defensive lineman from Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame.
Also, massive offensive lineman Max Starks (6-8, 345) of Orlando Lake Highland Prep is expected to choose Florida State or Florida; running back Greg Jones (6-1, 230) of Beaufort (S.C.) Battery Creek will choose FSU or Ohio State; and defensive back Leroy Smith (5-11, 170) of Quincy Shanks will choose FSU or Clemson, a decision that pits Florida State coach Bobby Bowden against his son, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden.
The dust is a bit more settled at Florida, which has more commitments and fewer down-to-the wire fights. The Gators' efforts have impressed the recruiting gurus, who are anticipating Florida having a Top 5 class, possibly No. 1 in the nation.
The stars of the class are quarterback Brock Berlin (6-1, 200) of Shreveport (La.) Evangel Academy; linebacker/defensive end Kennard Ellis (6-3, 235) of Southwest Mississippi Community College, who also had committed to Florida out of high school; and linebacker/defensive end Darrell Lee (6-5, 235) of Kirkwood, Mo.
The top two players Florida is waiting to hear from are Tre Orr (6-2, 195) and Jonathan Colon (6-6, 285). Orr, a safety from Lake City Columbia and the No. 7 rated recruit in the state by the Times, is expected to choose Florida or Georgia at a school assembly at 8:45 a.m. Colon, an offensive tackle from Miami Central and the Times No. 16-rated prospect in Florida, will select Florida or Miami.
Colon would help the Hurricanes complete an anticipated Top 10 class. Miami also is in the running for another top in-state prospect, Carl Walker (6-3, 190), a safety from Jacksonville Jackson. Walker, the Times No. 9-rated prospect in Florida, has narrowed his choices to Miami and Missouri.
The jewel for the Hurricanes, however, would be Williams. Miami, FSU, California, Michigan and Texas all are in the running for perhaps the nation's top linebacker and premier prospect. The Hurricanes are considered a long shot for McFadden.
Miami has oral commitments from two of the top five prospects in the state, running back Willis McGahee (6-1, 215) of Miami Central and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (6-1, 310) of Lantana Santaluces, as well as from one of the fastest players in the nation, wide receiver Willie Dixon (5-10, 180) of Stockton, Calif.
Northeast High receiver/defensive back Senica Evans will sign with South Florida today. Evans (6-0, 160) said he will play receiver.
At Northeast last season, Evans had 20 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed 29 times for 267 yards and four touchdowns. He also was recruited by Tulane and Louisville, but not offered scholarships.
"(USF) showed a lot of interest in me," Evans said, who said he needs to "just get a lot stronger and faster to make sure I can perform at the college level."
King running back Fred Reid (5-10, 180), the Times Suncoast Player of the Year, will sign with Mississippi State today. Reid, who also visited Marshall and Missouri, rushed for 2,083 yards this season.
The Pinellas County Player of the Year, Lakewood quarterback Donnie Davis (6-1, 195), and teammate Rafael Robinson (6-2, 270), an offensive lineman, will sign with Division II Albany (Ga.) State.
Lakewood coach Brian Bruch said Davis received overtures from several larger schools, including Division I Memphis and I-AA power Hofstra, but opted for Albany State because he liked the small college atmosphere and has relatives who live near the school.
Clearwater defensive back Chris Meyer (6-0, 190) will sign with Connecticut. He chose the Huskies, who will be moving up to Division I-A this season, over Tulsa, The Citadel and Montana.
Brad Leyenaar (6-6, 260) of East Lake will sign with Syracuse. The defensive lineman, who chose Syracuse over Southern Illinois, is following former East Lake offensive lineman Nick Romeo, who signed with the Orangemen last year.
Boca Ciega's Kenny Heatly (6-1, 175) will sign with Bethune-Cookman. The defensive back had 47 tackles and three fumble recoveries last season, as well as 25 receptions for 301 yards.
Osceola's Kendrick Scott (6-3, 320), an offensive lineman, has been offered a scholarship by Florida A&M, pending a passing result on the ACT test. Osceola coach George Palmer said the test results are due any day, and that the FAMU coaches told him they would hold the scholarship offer until June.
_ Staff writers Sharon Ginn, Brian Landman and Chris Rotar contributed to this report.
Updates on football signing day
Today is the first day athletes may sign binding national letters of intent for college football. Get updates on the Web or by calling recruiting services:
ON THE WEB
+ BorderWars: www.borderwars.com
+ Max Emfinger: www.maxemfinger.com
+ Phil Grosz: www.gwrecruiting.com
+ Tom Lemming: www.espn.com
+ PrepStar: www.prepstar.com
+ Rivals.com: www.rivals.com
+ Allen Wallace: www.cnnsi.com/football/college/recruiting
NUMBERS TO CALL
FLORIDA: GatorBait _ (900) 860-4286.
FSU: Osceola _ (900) 860-4378.
MIAMI: CaneSport _ (900) 454-2263.