National Football Foundation

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NFF Chapters Stage National Signing Day Events
Atlanta, Phoenix and St. Louis NFF Chapters continue signing day traditions.
Published: 2/9/2018 10:00:00 AM

Chapters in Atlanta, Phoenix and St. Louis continue tradition of holding special events to highlight their region's top players who will play at the next level.

IRVING, Texas (Feb. 9, 2018) – Several National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame Chapters staged events Feb. 7 as part of National Signing Day, where many of the most promising high school senior student-athletes signed national letters of intent to play football in college.

“We congratulate all of the seniors who signed national letters of intent this week,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “They now have the opportunity to follow their dreams of playing at the next level while continuing their educations. We have heard from countless college players that their scholarships changed their lives. The scholarships that these young men have received will have an impact on their lives not only for the next four years but the next 40 years.”

The Touchdown Club of Atlanta-NFF Chapter again helped stage one of the largest signing day events in the nation, which took place at the Sports & Social restaurant at Battery Atlanta. The event, which has taken place for more than 18 years, marked the fifth time the NFF chapter played a role in the event, and the first time that the event took place during two days. Organizers held the first event on Dec. 20 to account for the implementation of the new “early signing period” with approximately 150 high school seniors declaring early at the first Atlanta gathering. The second event, which was held Feb. 7 on the traditional first Wednesday in February, provided the stage for an additional 134 players to announce their commitments with more than 300 people turning out to show their support.

“It’s an exciting day for the players, their families and the high schools that they’re coming from,” said Lee Baker, a member of the Touchdown Club of Atlanta-NFF Chapter and the chapter liaison for the event. “It’s just a big day of celebration, and it was evident by the number of people coming to see the players being interviewed. Even for the kids who went to the schools that are not as well-known, their parents were just as excited as the parents of the kids that are going to a Division I school. It’s just a big celebration of the next stage of their football careers and educations.”

Organizers said adding a second event to account for the early signing day went smoothly, highlighting that the importance of the ritual as an important celebration for the student-athletes and their families. Combined the events attracted players from nearly 50 different high schools, and the signees made their announcements during a live webcast, which was emceed by broadcasters from the local FOX 5 (WAGA-TV) sports team and Sports Radio 680 The Fan. Other media outlets covered the events, including Rusty Mansell of 247Sports, and the announcements attracted heavy exposure for the signees in social media.

“What we found this year was that the majority of the kids that signed in December were predominately Division I kids,” said Baker. “Most of the major schools signed most of their players in December, which was a good thing because recruiting has a domino effect, and once you find out where some of the major players are going, other slots open up and the additional players can fill in the remaining slots. So, it helped these kids figure out where to go, and we’ll continue to do split signing day events next year.”

The range of colleges that garnered a recruit ran the gamut at the Atlanta events, including multiple divisions and conferences. More than 100 colleges and universities garnered at least one commitment during the events, including Alcorn State, Appalachian State, Army West Point, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Iowa State, Kent State, Lehigh, Macalester (Minn.), Marist, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Minnesota, Penn, Princeton, South Carolina, Troy, Tulane, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Western Kentucky and Yale.

The NFF Tom Lombardo/St. Louis Chapter staged its third signing day event behind the leadership of Chapter President Bob Bunton, who continued to describe the day as simply one of the most rewarding experiences in his 26 years of involvement with the NFF. The chapter worked closely with the St. Louis Metropolitan Coaches Association to stage the event, serving a continental breakfast at Norwood Hills Country Club. Bunton touted the continued growth of the event, which attracted 116 players from 35 schools – an increase from the 82 signees last year and nearly double the 57 signees from the first year. He also noted the media value of the event with all three of the local TV stations and reporters from the St. Louis Post Dispatch and St. Louis Today covering the event.

“We set the room for 325 people, and we had 30 people standing,” said Bunton. “We anticipate growing again next year because the parents really buy into this and coaches like it because it promotes their program. This is a win-win for the media, the kids, parents, the coaches, the football community and our chapter. It’s an opportunity to continue to promote not only the National Football Foundation but also our mission, which is to recognize kids. We made 116 kids feel very significant.”

EPSN radio host Randy Karraker emceed the event, and Howard Richards, an All-American at Missouri who played in the NFL, gave opening remarks, telling the signees to not blow their good fortune while encouraging them to take full advantage of their college scholarships. Schools garnering commitments at the NFF Tom Lombardo/St. Louis Chapter event this year included Army West Point, Ball State, Central Missouri, Illinois State, Lindenwood (Mo.), Missouri State, Navy, Oklahoma, Southeast Missouri State, Southern California, Southern Illinois and Truman State (Mo.).

The NFF Valley of the Sun Chapter hosted its Sixth Annual College Signing Day event at Majerle's Sports Grill Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Ariz., with 25 signees making announcements. Long-time local radio host Brad Cesmat emceed the event, garnering reaction for each of the signees. Several VIPs turned out to congratulate the student-athletes on their major milestone, including seven board members of the NFF chapter and former Northern Arizona head coach Larry Kentera. Media coverage included KPNX-TV (NBC-12), and

“It’s a big day for Arizona high school football players,” said NFF Valley of the Sun Chapter President Adam Turner. “We have a handful that are going to big time programs, and we have a few that are going to junior colleges and a few that are going to Ivy League schools. It’s an exciting day for these kids and their moms and dads and fun for me too… The kids were all just as proud as if they were going to Alabama or USC. These kids were excited. Their future may not be playing in the NFL on Sundays, but they’re going to be business leaders, surgeons, you know the sky is the limit and our future is in good hands.”

Colleges and universities that garnered a recruit at the Phoenix event included Air Force, Colorado State-Pueblo, Johns Hopkins (Md.), Mesa Community College (Ariz.), Northern Arizona, Princeton, Ripon (Wis.) and South Dakota School of Mines.

“Football creates a wide range of opportunities for the more than 1.1 million student-athletes who play the game at the high school level,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “National Signing Day represents the culmination of an amazing amount of hard work by our sport’s most promising players, and we are proud that several of our chapters have taken a leadership role in creating a unique stage to showcase their accomplishments.”

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