College football season might have ended a few weeks ago with Alabama destroying Notre Dame to claim the BCS National Championship, but that only started the next big season for college teams — recruiting season.
I follow recruiting, or at least the University of Tennessee's recruiting.
I'm really hoping the Vols can sign five-star safety Vonn Bell and maybe surprise some folks by swinging five-star defensive end Carl Lawson from Auburn. I will celebrate the recruiting victories and try to be realistic about my beloved Big Orange's recruiting losses.
All of the work by players seeking scholarships — and the coaches and schools trying to coax players to sign with State U — ends today as recruiting season climaxes with National Signing Day.
While my heart might be with Rocky Top, wondering about who signs with Tennessee, my energy and focus will be at Crestview High School. There, a trio of Bulldog football players will sign National Letters of Intent during an 11 a.m. celebration in the school's auditorium.
Running back Micah Reed is expected to sign with Central Florida. Tyler Henderson will sign with Florida Atlantic University, where he also will have a chance to play baseball. Justin Rebholz will continue his playing career and education at the United States Coast Guard Academy.
I'll be at Baker later in the day as Gator volleyball player Katie Wickery signs to play for Lake-Sumter Community College, where she will join former Baker star Laurie Steele.
Signing day always raises mixed emotions in me. I'm happy for the young men and women as they fulfill their dream, but it's hard to see some kids go.
Crestview shortstop Dakota Dean signed a baseball scholarship with Louisiana State back in November. It seems as if Dean and Henderson have been high school players forever.
Dean and Henderson started for the baseball team since their first game freshman year. Henderson was a starter on the football team from his high school career's first day.
The 2013 baseball regular season starts Monday, and I'll savor the final weeks of watching Dean and Henderson play high school ball. I will think about their journeys that I've had the opportunity to cover.
There are times when I like to just drop by a practice and watch high school athletes enjoy their sport. Yes, these young men and women work hard to play their games, but in high school, games are still just that: games.
I'm not saying there's no pressure on high school athletes to win or achieve at a high level. However, it's not the same kind of pressure that goes with being a scholarship athlete.
Let's celebrate the best of our best high school athletes. The world is theirs for the taking today, as they prepare to step away from the security of home and embark on their college careers.
I wish all of them the best.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524