By Kevin Alan Lamb
There comes a time in each high school quarterback’s life, when he decides who he will spend the next four years in battle with. He must decide who and where he will be waking up at 5 a.m. for weights, but more significantly, who he will grow to become a man, alongside. Today is National Signing Day.
While you’re waking up, drinking your second cup of coffee, or riding your bicycle enjoying another in a series of beautifulwinter days, high school seniors across the nation will be penning a piece of paper and choosing the course of their fate. Hump-day for you, lights, cameras, and action for the nation’s top talent.
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The first Wednesday of each February is the first day that a high school QB can sign a national letter of intent. Unique to college football, a flair for drama has attracted a traveling circus around this unveiling. In 1980, the College Football Association proposed a solution to eliminate conference signing days, and birthed National Signing Day, spring 1981.
While it should come as no surprise that NFL quarterbacks like Matt Stafford, and Cam Newton were five-star QBs out of high school, the romantic in me prefers to tell the story of a dark horse. You may have heard a story of a boy grown to a man from Burlington, Iowa. A man, blessed with his faith, talent, and the belief in both enough to work the graveyard shift stocking shelves at a supermarket.
This man, would one day become legend, yet in the spring of 1988, was overlooked by most major Division 1 programs. The youngest of two sons, this play-caller graduated from Regis High School where he took the helm his junior year as a result of his ability to see the field. Known for his on-the-field intelligence, he earned the trust of his coach to call his own plays. Despite being discounted, this champion willed opportunity as a result of his faith and ability to throw a football. In his senior season he earned state honors, a trip to play with the state’s top players, and the MVP trophy in the Shrine Bowl.
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Away from the lights, newspaper headlines, and roar of the crowd, this young man took his snaps in Cedar Falls, at the University of Northern Iowa. A redshirt his freshman year, this rags-to-riches QB spent the next three-years in a dysfunctional relationship with the bench. Had it not been for the love and support of his parents, Gene and Sue, the 6-foot-2 right-hander may have let his football ship, sail away.
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