HOUSTON -- It's National Signing Day and I am in Houston for the Super Bowl. I consider this fortuitous timing because, well, it's just not my thing.
But because this day is so big for so many people, here are three very different recruiting experiences from Falcons coach Dan Quinn and wide receivers Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel.
• Dan Quinn, The No Star: He was a defensive lineman out of Morristown, N.J., who signed with Salisbury State.
Quoting: "As far as stars go, if they had a negative rating, I probably would’ve been that. I had an awesome college experience. I went to Salisbury State. I played football and competed in track there (hammer throw). But at that time the Penn States of the world were not having their hats sent down to me."
• Julio Jones, The 5-Star: He played football, basketball and ran track in Foley Alabama and was recruited by every major program, but the final seven at the end were Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida, Florida State, Texas Tech, Auburn and LSU. Jones was Nick Saban's first big recruit at Alabama and he signaled the start of the program's rebuild.
Quoting: "I didn’t know where I was going, I remember that. A lot of media. My family was there, everybody who supported me, the whole city of Foley that was behind me. ... I woke that morning and I still didn't know where I was going to go. I had my five envelopes. I just moved them around. I didn't know what I wanted to do. Then right before I went to school I just started thinking that I wanted to stay in Alabama. All the people supporting me, if I went too far, they wouldn’t be able to come to see me play. So that was the big reason I decided to stay (in state). I wasn't going to go to Auburn. I just didn’t like Auburn. It left a bad taste in my mouth."
Jones wouldn't disclose what schools were in his five envelopes, joking, "Howard, Yale..."
• Taylor Gabriel, The 2-Star: He played football, basketball and track in Mesquite, Texas, and signed with Abilene Christian.
Quoting: "I took official visits to TCU and Tulsa and a few other teams. But my SAT scores ... I wasn’t really familiar with the prep course or the SATs or the college process because I really didn’t have anybody in my family who went to college. So my SAT scores came kind of late and a lot of teams pulled my scholarship (offer). So the only offer I really had was from Abilene Christian."
Not that it mattered in the end. He is in his third NFL season, tied for the Falcons' team lead with six touchdown catches and will be playing in the Super Bowl Sunday.
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