Here's the Hotline's latest annual attempt to keep signing day in perspective.
Make no mistake: It matters -- it matters a lot.
But if your team is No. 42 nationally instead of No. 25 ... if it's No. 6 in the conference instead of No. 4 ... don't panic!!!
The class rankings and star system for individual players don't mean everything, and we see examples every year: In 2011, Oregon fans were giddy on NSD when the Ducks landed the west coast's biggest prize, De'Anthony Thomas, but a 3-star player who had committed seven months earlier proved to be a far more significant signee:
Had you listed the top prospects in UCLA's 2011 class, based on stars and position ranking, the top two would undoubtedly have been 5-star tailback Malcolm Jones and 5-star defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
Stanford Cardinal Shane Skov (11) reacts to a favorable official's review on an Oregon Duck fumble turnover late in the second quarter at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Several notches down the list: Anthony Barr. In 2009, Will Sutton was not the top defensive tackle prospect in the west ... or in California ... or in Southern California.
Or in ASU's recruiting class. Stanford's 2009 class was viewed as the third-best in the conference. All it did was produce Ben Gardner, Tyler Gaffney, Trent Murphy, Stepfan Taylor, Levine Toilolo, Zach Ertz and Shayne Skov.
Starting in the fall, all seven will be playing on Sunday. Oregon's 2008 class didn't crack the top 20 when Scout released its final, signing-day rankings. In fact, the class was ranked fifth in the conference.
Turns out, LeGarrette Blount, LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, Darron Thomas, Dion Jordan and Kiko Alonso could play a little.
(Three spots lower than the Ducks, at No. 8 in the league, was a Stanford class featuring some guy named Luck.)
But let's dispense with yesteryear and frame the situation in today's terms -- or as close as we can come to today:
The 22 players who were named first-team all-conference in 2013.
Not one of them was rated 5 stars by both Scout and Rivals, and only one player was rated 5 stars by either of the two services (Stanford's Skov, courtesy of Scout).
Most of the best players in the conference in '13 were 2- and 3-star recruits.
This isn't necessarily a criticism of Scout and Rivals.
It's the reality of the process: So much of a prospect's development depends on that which cannot be quantified: Work ethic and coaching (putting the player in the best position to succeed).
Here's the list, using an average of the two recruiting services:
(Worth noting: 16 players received the same number of stars from both. Rivals rated five players one-star higher than Scout, while Scout rated one player, Skov, higher than Rivals. No players were separated by more than 1 star.)
OFFENSE QB: Oregon's Marcus Mariota: 3 stars TB: Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey: 3.5 stars TB: Washington's Bishop Sankey: 4 stars TE: ASU's Chris Coyle: 3 stars WR: Oregon State's Brandon Cooks: 3.5 stars WR: Colorado's Paul Richardson: 4 stars OL: ASU's Evan Finkenberg: 2.5 stars OL: USC's Marcus Martin: 3 stars OL: Oregon's Hroniss Grasu: 3 stars OL: UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo: 4 stars OL: Stanford's David Yankey: 3 stars
DEFENSE DL: USC's Leonard Williams: 4 stars DL: ASU's Will Sutton: 3 stars DL: Stanford's Ben Gardner: 2 stars DL: Utah's Trevor Reilly: 2.5 stars LB: Stanford's Shayne Skov: 4.5 stars LB: UCLA's Anthony Barr: 4 stars LB: Stanford's Trent Murphy: 3 stars DB: ASU's Alden Darby: 2 stars DB: Stanford's Ed Reynolds: 2.5 stars DB: Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: 4 stars DB: ASU's Robert Nelson: 2 stars DB: WSU's Deone Bucannon: 3 stars