Today is National Letter of Intent Signing Day! I use initial caps, because for college football fans, it’s a Big Day. The recruiting wars are finally ended, and the fans of each school count up the number of two-star, three-star, four-star, and five-star athletes who will be joining their teams. By all accounts, Ohio State, its head coach Urban Meyer, and his hard-working assistants did pretty well this year. Ezekiel Elliott, whose announcement that he will become a Buckeye is shown here, is one of the more heralded members of the Ohio State class.
When I think of National Letter of Intent Day, however, I think of kids, and their parents. A high school student who is a stud athlete is still a high school student. They may run faster, and bench press more, and catch footballs better than your ordinary kids, but deep down they are the same mass of raging hormones that you find in every kid of that age. They are making a huge decision that could have tremendous, long-term consequences for their lives — and they and their parents are hoping that they make the right decision. It’s a huge, emotional matter for any high school student about to go away from home to college. Just imagine what it must be like for a kid who not only is leaving the cocoon of their family, but moving into new territory where their every move will be scrutinized and deconstructed by rabid college football fans.
So, on this National Letter of Intent Signing Day, I want to welcome all of the young men who have committed to come to The Ohio State University — but I especially want to welcome their parents to the family that is Buckeye Nation.
I also want to make this pledge to those parents: no matter how high the athletic stakes, how big the game, or how colossal the blunder, I will always strive to remember that we are talking about young people here. I will try to bear in mind that everyone makes mistakes, that we all have committed youthful indiscretions that we regret, and that people can mature and grow and shouldn’t be forever defined by a single, ill-advised decision. I will always seek to give your kids the benefit of the doubt, just as I would hope that other parents would do with my kids. I suspect I’m not alone in this, so please remember that, for every fan who goes over the top there are dozens, if not hundreds, who support your youngster and wish only the best for him.
Welcome to Buckeye Nation!