Recruits get fans excited

Mired in a long losing streak with the first-year New York Mets, manager Casey Stengel was asked what was wrong with his team.

“All my ballplayers has failed,” said Stengel. “I need me some new ballplayers who have never failed before.”

Recently, every major college football team in America got some new ballplayers who have never failed before as high school seniors announced where they would continue their careers.

There’s nothing like new names to get fans excited about their team, especially when the old names that will return didn’t accomplish all that much.

Let West Virginia University sign a hotshot quarterback and fans immediately will begin drawing comparisons to Major Harris or Pat White, even before the young man arrives on campus or takes a snap.

It’s the same at every school in America. Fans want to win. They want to get excited about their team. So a new name stirs their passion.

There are two types of football programs at the major college level -destination schools and developmental programs. The destination schools readily are identifiable -Alabama, LSU, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame, Oregon, and several others. Year in and year out, they virtually are assured of getting top-notch talent.

Others, like West Virginia University are developmental programs. Rather than land a crop of 5 and 4 star recruits, they settle mainly for 3-star athletes and attempt to develop them into 5-star players.

Those who rate the recruiting classes gave WVU high marks for its recruiting class, which ranked in the mid 20s. That’s better than the Mountaineers usually fare. By past WVU standards, this was a good crop of newcomers.

Of course, we won’t really know how the newcomers pan out until their time on campus has expired. By then, they will have a proven track record, one we hope is not only a winning one, but leads to championships.

I’ve seen fans get so excited over their school landing a particular recruit they are almost out of control, only to see that recruit never play a down. Yet, for every one of those situations there are players like former Mountaineer Rich Braham, a Morgantown High product who was snubbed by the hometown school, but decided to walkon. All he did was become the Mountaineers’ Most Valuable Player and go on to play in the National Football League.

I’ve learned not to get too high over the signing of any one recruit -and not to get too low when the one can’t-miss guy the local school is targeting decides to go somewhere else.

Not even the head coaches -who are high-paid experts -know for sure who will pan out and who won’t.

Five years from now, when the members of the 2013 recruiting classes are gone, we’ll know the answers. But by then we’ll be more worried about who is being recruited in 2018.

It’s a game that never ends.