National Signing Day Brings Out Best and Worst of High School Football
College football's National Signing Day came and went with a bang on Wednesday, highlighting the highs and lows of high school football.
Alabama coach Nick Saban, who landed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, per 247sports.com and ESPN.com, pulled off one of the more heartwarming moves of the day, too. He offered a scholarship to a player who will never play a snap for the team due to a career-ending neck injury, reports ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough.
Former defensive tackle Elisha Shaw of Tucker, Ga., suffered a serious neck injury on the second day of summer practice this past year, according to Scarborough. The strained ligaments in his neck will never heal, Shaw's high school coach told ESPN.com, and will eventually require surgery.
Saban, who offered Shaw a scholarship back in 2012, held true to his offer despite the player's injury. Shaw will be on a "medical scholarship," he told ESPN.com, not a football scholarship, allowing Alabama to offer another player a spot on the team. He hopes to serve either as a coach or a volunteer assistant, per Scarborough.
No National Signing Day is complete without one or two outlandish stories, however, and this year was no different.
The University of Mississippi announced his signing on Twitter at 9:22 a.m. ET:
Eyebrows began rising, however, when the University of Utah announced his signing at 4:37 p.m. ET:
During a televised signing ceremony on Bay Area News 9 in Tampa, Law chose a Utah hat over an Ole Miss one, only adding to the confusion. Law also reportedly signed a letter of intent with East Mississippi Community College, according to the Sentinel.
Ole Miss released Law from his commitment on Thursday, the Sentinel reported, freeing him up to attend Utah starting this fall.
Another wacky recruiting story did not have such a happy ending.
Malik McDowell, a five-star defensive end prospect from Detroit, wanted to attend Michigan State University. His parents, conversely, wanted him to leave the state entirely.
"We're basically at the same point, his mother and I, as long as he gets away from Michigan we don't care where he goes," said Malik's father, Greg McDowell, to 247sports.com's Steve Wiltfong on Monday. "We've expressed numerous times all we want is the best for him and seeing him get out of here we think is best. It's for his future."
Malik defied those wishes on Wednesday by announcing his intention to join Michigan State during a news conference in the morning. However, as of Thursday night, he still has yet to send his letter of intent to the school.
Malik McDowell looking less than amused for his second 'signing day' event. Hasn't faxed his LOI yet pic.twitter.com/j6iBW2UJ5Q-- Ricky Lindsay (@RLindz35) February 5, 2014
On Wednesday night, Malik's father told The Detroit News that the boy's mother, Joya Crowe, was the reason for the delay.
"I'm not legally able to do it because I'm not the custodial parent," said the father. "She has to sign it and I have to sign it, too. I don't know when it will happen."
Jennifer Smith, Michigan State's associate athletic director for compliance services, told the Detroit Free Press on Thursday that McDowell could exploit certain workarounds if his mother refuses to sign the letter. If he enrolls at Michigan State without sending in his letter of intent, he'll no longer be considered a prospect after one day of classes. However, he'd have to pay his own way if he wanted to take classes this upcoming summer.
In short, it's an unfortunate situation with no clear sign of resolution on the horizon.
From Alabama's "medical scholarship" situation with Shaw to the McDowell-Michigan State mess, student-athletes ran the gamut of emotions on National Signing Day this year.
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