2021 recruiting class finds reason to celebrate amid pandemic

Posted at 11:17 PM, Dec 16, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - From hotels, to gyms, to food establishments, the way signing day ceremonies are held this year is out of the ordinary.

Like every National Signing Day, athletes receive cheers as they sign their National Letters of Intent.

Although, unlike every National Signing Day, those cheers are a bit muffled from masks and social distancing is as common as the congratulations.

The athletes will happily embrace the COVID-19 precautions because, for many, they feared they wouldn't even get to have a signing ceremony.

"We struggled finding a place to have it at," Granby High School defensive tackle and Tennessee signee KaTron Evans said.

"I'm like, dang I'm not gonna be able to get something that my dad had or other people were able to get," Princess Anne High School defensive tackle and Liberty signee Marquise Brunson said.

Finding a place to sign at may have been a challenge, but it's still the easiest part of this process. In-person visits aren't an option because of COVID-19 restrictions, so the recruitment process takes place without the athletes ever stepping on a college campus.

"I never got a chance," Oscar Smith safety and Indiana signee Maurice Freeman said about on-campus visits. "They virtually visited me though, so that’s all I got to see."

Without in-person visits, everything has to be done virtually. Coaches and players rely on their phones to figure out if they're a good fit for one another.

"A lot of Zoom calls, a lot FaceTimes, a lot of text messages, lot of group texts, all those sort of things," Old Dominion football coach Ricky Rahne said about the recruitment process.

"A lot of phone calls, a lot of texts from coaches," Evans said. "Phone's going crazy."

Phones going crazy like the circumstances these athletes have been delt with, but in the end, they're met with the typical celebrations of a signing ceremony.