Just how important is National Signing Day?

2012 National Signing Day is upon us, folks. The day on which fans everywhere get giddy over 17 and 18 year old boys that they have never met or seen play, in most cases. The day on which players who have not fully developed into men are touted as the saviors of programs across the country, all before they receive a high school diploma.

ESPN will hype the college decisions of the handful of supposedly elite recruits that are left unsigned, and why not? A lot of the players we see on television tomorrow will indeed be stars. Some, however, will fail to mature, get injured or not be an ideal fit for their college of choice. And three or four years from now, there could be a player from this recruiting class that very few people have heard of, who will go on to win the Heisman Trophy. That's the world of recruiting.

In order to maintain the proper perspective on National Signing Day, I'm going check out where some of the top prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft ranked back in high school. All ratings are from rivals.com.

Not Quite Elite: Coming out of high school, neither Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III was able to secure the coveted five-star rating. Both were considered four-star prospects, along with Quinton Coples, another talented, potential top-ten prospect.

Completely Snubbed: It's always fun to look back and say, "That guy was a three-star recruit?!" There is a long list of potential top-15 draft picks that were considered very average recruits coming out of high school. Morris Claiborne, Jonathan Martin, Riley Reiff, David DeCastro, Justin Blackmon and Luke Kuechly all received just a three-star grade.

Hit the Nail on the Head: As I mentioned earlier, some players live up to the hype. Matt Kalil came into USC as a five-star recruit and had a tremendous career. He is now likely a top-five pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Trent Richardson lived up to similar hype at Alabama, while Mike Adams, who was considered one of the top offensive linemen to come out of Ohio in years, is climbing his way into top-15 consideration after a sturdy career as a five-star recruit. Likewise, Michael Floyd deserves props for being every bit the receiver Notre Dame recruited him to be.

Who?: When the seniors of 2008 graduated high school, Marcus Forston and Darrell Scott were ranked No. 5 and 6 in the nation. Forston had an injury riddled career at Miami and is considered a mid-round pick, while Darrel Scott has since transfered from Colorado.

Recap: In Dan Kadar's latest mock, the top ten picks hold as many three-star recruits as they do five-star recruits with three. There are also four four-star recruits. Extend that to the top 15, and there are six three-stars, four five-stars and five four-stars.

Feel free to fuss over scouting reports of 18 year old boys, but I'm just going to wait a few years to judge these players. It's easier that way.

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