‘National Signing Day’:
Published: Feb 09, 2013 06:00 PM
Modified: Feb 09, 2013 03:52 PM
CHAPEL HILL - For almost 20 local high school students, this spring will not be filled with anxious anticipation or waiting for that thick envelope confirming their college acceptance to appear in their mail box.
For the student-athletes who formalized their commitment to their respective colleges on "National Signing Day," the waiting is over. And, in most of their cases, it was their choice.
Chapel Hill High School football player Alex Duncan, for example, heard from several Atlantic Coast Conference schools including North Carolina and N.C. State, but not until he already had set his mind on going to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
"They were the first ones to show a real interest in me, and I appreciated their level of commitment," said Duncan.
Duncan attended a national combine after his sophomore season and was a solid performer for CHHS at both running-blocking back and defensive back in his junior year.
But it was after he intercepted four passes in a 28-7 win against Northwood last September that the interest in Duncan peaked. Too late. He was mentally committed to becoming an officer and gentleman at Navy.
"They had been loyal to me, and I was going to be loyal to them," Duncan said. "I wasn’t really too interested in reading letters from any one else."
Student-athletes can commit orally to a college at any time, but it is not until the official signing period in their senior year that the commitments can become binding.
And the period is just that — a span from Feb. 6 to April 1 this year for football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country and men’s water polo. Other sports have different periods; i.e., basketball’s regular signing period is from April 17 to May 15 for Division I and until Aug. 1 for Div. II.
"A lot of kids get really nervous and disappointed if they don’t have a commitment by the ’National Signing Day.’ But it’s not a single day," Carrboro head football coach Jason Tudryn noted. "They’ve got plenty of time."
Carrboro saw six of its seniors sign on the national "day" last Wednesday. Ironically, none of them signed in football, despite the Jaguars’ 15-1 record and appearance in the state championship game.
But the Jaguar seniors shouldn’t fret. The absence of "NSD" signings for winning football teams is not uncommon. For example, Leesville Road’s 4A football program has lost only two games in the past two years, but didn’t host any signings of national letters of intent on Wednesday.
Duncan was one of three CHHS players who signed Wednesday. Quarterback T.J. Johnson opted for St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, while fullback/linebacker Tim Duffy opted to accept a “preferred walk-on” package at Furman. East Chapel Hill wide receiver Jackson Boyer decided on the same route at North Carolina, despite offers in both lacrosse and football from other schools.
“I just wanted to stay local, and I felt connected with the coaches,” said Boyer. He also felt a bond with UNC quarterback Bryn Renner, the son of 2012 East football coach Bill Renner. “Bryn will be back next year, and I think that helped me decide. And I like their whole style of offense.”
Preferred walk-ons typically get access to most team benefits except for paid tuition, and most such offers come with an understanding of a future scholarship – not unlike being on standby status for airline tickets.