Did you ever celebrate your half-birthday?
That’s how Todd Munson — one of my faithful Twitter followers — described Wednesday’s secondary college football signing day in response to a poll I ran on Twitter. Not a bad line. A lot of truth to it.
Scott Frost announced what can be called the finishing touch to his 2019 recruiting class. The Nebraska media assembled in the press box to get the details, but we already knew them. There were four new signees. Not much drama. The earth did not move.
This first Wednesday in February used to be a holiday for college football fans. It was a day that got you through the winter, a day of hope and potential and rankings. For the kids and parents, a day to celebrate the future, smile for the camera in their school gym as they signed on the dotted line. Signing day was big stuff, it was the bridge from the bowl game to spring football. Red meat for the college football fan.
But February signing day has been replaced by its impatient twin, the December signing day. The impatient twin hogs all the attention and glory. The February date is no less important. But much of the recruiting class has signed and many of the kids are already in the Husker weight room, enrolled in UNL classes. It’s the world we live in, the world that won’t and can’t wait.
That’s OK. Through two years, the December signing day has been a success, according to many coaches and players. It feels right to get it over with. That doesn’t mean there’s not still some jostling to be done by the coaching staff, not still some drama, even late-night drama and nerves, as Noa Pola-Gates showed a few weeks ago.
So I put out a Twitter poll Wednesday, asking the Twitterverse if they preferred : 1. December signing day; 2. February; or 3. Didn’t care, just wanted to win. At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, there were 555 votes. The results were 41 percent for December and 8 percent for February, and 51 percent said, “Just win.”
No surprise there. Most fans just want to sign good players, they don’t care when. The folks who are really into signing day say the sooner the better. It makes for a crazy December. Wait until Nebraska coaches have to finish off the majority of their recruiting class while they’re preparing for a bowl game. I’m sure they can’t wait to do that.
On Wednesday, the Frost media opportunity became a chance to ask him for updates on winter conditioning, what he did over the holidays and injury updates on the team. Sort of a mid-winter Husker football update. Don’t worry, spring practice is just a few weeks away.
That shouldn’t downgrade what Frost and his staff were able to do on Wednesday. Pola-Gates looks like an impact safety. Demariyon Houston has the kind of speed that will fit right into the offense. Up and down the class, there are new players who may find the field quickly, as Frost continues to plug the holes in the depth chart he inherited. The impact of the weight room this year, and those new players, make next season really intriguing.
This class will end up being ranked in the top five in the Big Ten, and top 20 nationally in some rankings. I’m sure Frost’s second class could have been better, but it’s just right in many ways. Recruiting under Frost will always be a balance of big-time players and guys who are developed. Just like Bob and Tom used to make. My biggest takeaway from Wednesday: Frost talking about the players from the different winning programs, players used to winning and being in the playoffs, high expectations, players with Type A motors to succeed. That’s exactly how the program is going to flip its culture, and it’s starting now.
Of course, there were more walk-ons. Frost is just getting started there. As this program grows, so, too, will the role and the importance and hype of the Nebraska walk-on. And that will be like an extra signing day. Because we can’t get enough.
Meanwhile, Christmas Day for Husker fans has officially moved to before Christmas. Think of the February signing period now as Valentine’s Day, still something for the sweet tooth.
Photos: Nebraska football's 2019 recruiting class
Check out photos of each member of Nebraska football's 2019 recruiting class.