By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Ever get one of those do-not-open-until- the-holidays packages in the mail?
Well, let's just say we will need to revisit this column in about three years.
That's because recruiting analysis is so fickle - an educated, five-foot throw at the dartboard, but a throw nonetheless.
We'll see where Wednesday's national signing day takes us with this year's incoming FCS freshmen, but the top recruits may not be headed where you think.
Oh sure, Montana State might have signed the best incoming quarterback in Dakota Pruko out of Texas (this storyline has worked for the Bobcats before), or maybe it was Floridian Vegas Harley's commitment to Georgia Southern on signing day.
But the main national recruiting sites - ESPN, Rivals and Scout - say the top incoming freshman is going to South Carolina State.
Yes, a MEAC school.
Indeed, the grades and rankings are highest for 6-foot-6, 290-pound offensive tackle Javarius Leamon, who stayed in-state and gave a commitment to South Carolina State over Clemson on national signing day. The big talent out of Woodruff High is the biggest signee for the conference in a long time.
Leamon shares the top grade from ESPN with a player who didn't even sign a national letter of intent. Well, the Ivy League doesn't have such agreements, and, yes, Penn has a verbal commitment from Los Angeles Beverly Hills wide receiver Cameron Countryman, who ESPN ranks alongside Leamon with 79 scores each.
Up next were Pruko and Harley with 78s - top signees for top programs.
Leamon earned the top rating from Rivals - a 5.8 - and was followed by a signee from a Southland Conference program.
It wasn't national finalist Sam Houston State, either. How about struggling Southeastern Louisiana, which plucked linebacker Juwaan Rogers and his 5.7 rating out of Louisiana. He also gave his commitment on signing day.
Next up with 5.6s each were Harley, wide receivers Dalis Bruce (Eastern Washington) and Tray Rabon (Grambling State), quarterback Lamontiez Ivy (Jackson State), and running backs D.J. Abnar (Liberty), R.J. Robinson (Norfolk State) and Daniel Taylor (Northwestern State).
That's not a bad list of FCS programs, but not necessarily the cream of the national crop, either.
Scout? It gave Matt Barnett the nation's No. 16 rating at fullback and he signed with Wagner. Stud center prospect Austin Stock, No. 24 nationally, has given a verbal commitment to Columbia.
So who knows how the recruiting grades will turn out in the long run.
Maybe a lot of these players will soon be coming to an All-America team near you.