The day is finally here, in many ways. For hundreds of Minnesota high school seniors in football, soccer, track and cross-country, today marks the first day they can officially sign National Letters of Intent. As someone who has covered a few such ceremonies over the years, it's often the culmination of a dream -- as well as a time when many realize just how lucky they are to be among the chosen few who will have all or part of their college education paid for because of their athletic skill.
For higher-profile athletes, particularly in football, this day also represents a sigh of relief. Once they put pen to paper, the constant badgering from coaches, representatives and others finally stops. The intensity of recruiting battles these days is fierce, and the winners -- and players -- can often feel like the last one's standing more than fresh-faced champions at the top of the podium.
That type of race certainly describes the bid for the services of mammoth Cretin-Derham Hall offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (pictured, right). The battle for his services has dwarfed that of a couple of other fairly famous Raiders alums -- Joe Mauer and Michael Floyd. Just listen to CDH head coach Mike Scanlan describe it:
"Compared to Michael or Mauer or any of those guys, there's no comparison," Cretin-Derham Hall football coach Mike Scanlan said Tuesday. "There's been nothing like this. It's been unbelievable, just the volume of people coming through. I think it reflects how Internet-oriented everything is. Word gets out. Coaches hear, 'You better visit this kid or you'll get beat up online.' Some guy is sitting in his underwear online, rating Ohio State's or whoever's recruiting class. And people read into it something of substance."
As someone reasonably clothed and plugged in, our best guess is that Henderson chooses USC today when he makes his announcement from New York on a live CBS College Sports cable show (sometime between 4-5 p.m. is what we're told in terms of time frame). The combination of warm weather and program pedigree ... well, that's a powerful lure. As per recent on-field tradition, Ohio State will be the runner-up. We wouldn't completely rule out Minnesota, but suffice to say that would be a major surprise -- and more than just a pleasant one for a program that would get an instant boost if could land an in-state player of Henderson's caliber.
That said, one way or another, the drama will end today. And the second part of the dream for Henderson and so many others will begin.