Today is National Signing Day when college football programs lock in their new recruits for next year. According to ESPN, Nick Saban's evil Alabama empire appears to once again have the top entering class, as has been the case five of the last six years. (Why the sour grapes? He abandoned my Spartans!) Based on that data point alone, there does seem to be a connection between signing the best players and winning the most games.
But how does being a top-ranked high school footballer work out for the players? According to this WP article, not so well. Of the top 100 who finished high school in 2007, only 39 ever played in the NFL and 20 still play. More strikingly, four are dead and one is in prison for murder. Some had their football careers cut short by injury; others found success in fields other than football. According to WP, at least a third received college degrees from the school with which they signed.
My takeaway: even the very best high school players need a Plan B in case football does not work out. Success in football is very hard to predict on an individual basis.
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