Signed, sealed and delivered: Future Chippewas sign letters of intent for football
Dan Enos walked into the Indoor Athletic Center just after 7 a.m. Wednesday and went straight to the fax machine surrounded by his assistants.
It was national signing day for the head football coach, and all the coaches were alert early ensuring a solid freshmen class for next year.
“I can never sleep very good before signing day,” offensive coordinator Mike Cummings said to a co-worker while waiting for faxes from recruits to come in. “It’s like Christmas time.”
A total of 21 high school athletes faxed in their signed letters of intent to play for Central Michigan as scholarship players. That means an additional 25 players will join the team. For coaches it can be difficult to trust 18-year-old kids' promises to come before they officially sign.
“You never know,” Enos said. “If you're going to have a situation (player decommits) on signing day, there’s normally events that lead up to it on signing day to give you a clue that it’ll happen.”
Enos also gets worried a bigger school will try to “poach” a recruit in late in the process.
“I feel that if I was at a Big Ten school I would’ve recruited (players from this class),” Enos said. “I’m always worried if someone swoops down late. You put all the time into them, it would’ve been very disappointing.”
For Enos, his morning started at 5:30 a.m. although he came in a few minutes after 7 a.m. because it was his turn to take the kids to school. But during the drive he was getting calls from recruits and assistant coaches.
“To coaches it’s like another game day,” said Athletics Director Dave Heeke. “You win or lose.”
Defensive coordinator Joe Tumpkin talked about how today was less stressful because they had the commitments for so long, and felt very confident in the kids’ commitments. Each recruit has an assistant coach assigned to recruiting him. Those coaches called Sunday night, Monday night and Tuesday night just confirming there would be no problems Wednesday morning sending in the ever-important fax.
Either the fax comes in first or the players call their assistant coaches who congratulate them or tell them they need to re-send the fax due to errors. Then Enos talks to the recruit.
“I always tell them to enjoy the day and enjoy the moment,” Enos said. “Not many people can say they signed a Division I scholarship to play football, they should be proud and enjoy the day. But starting tomorrow, better get to work."
Shortly after 10 a.m. when the final fax came through, the coaches piled in Enos’ office through to watch a highlight film of the newest Chippewas.
“I enjoy doing that, going through highlight video,” Enos said. “Getting excited about what this young man could be. Trying to figure out which one will be Titus Davis, freshman All-American (last year). I’d like to think there’s one this year.”
That time was also spent already working toward next year’s recruits.
“We got calls from guys we’ve already offered for next year,” said the head coach entering his third season. “We’re already moving. We’ve been offering guys today and saying ‘Hey in a year from today where are you going to be going? We want to be on your list.’”
The hollers from coaches watching the highlights could be heard down the hall in the IAC. Coaches continued to down coffee throughout the morning and joke with each other while paying attention to what other teams' recruiting classes looked like.
With confidence in the commitments from the recruits, coaches were loose throughout the morning. From Enos poking fun at an assistant who watches Jersey Shore to telling Titus Davis he’ll be redshirted next season just to continue to have to do the early morning workouts, the comedy show did not stop.
“At Cincinnati one year we had a morning workout before signing day and were late getting to the fax machine,” Enos recalled. “The machine didn’t even have paper in it, and no one was there so kids couldn’t send in their fax.”
He did say it turned out to be a great class. But every school around the country has to sit patiently around the fax machine and rely on old technology that easily fails. Several players called with problems working with the fax machine at their high schools.
“One of dads asked me why don’t they scan document then email it,” Enos said. “I don’t know, good question. We’re still running around with a fax machine, if it broke we should have another one standby. All the work and time and money you put in these guys and your waiting on a fax? Maybe that’ll change someday.”
The days and nights spent recruiting these players are what make the coaches so stressful if they will come. Enos says the day is more of a banquet and celebration to recruiting. He gives his staff four days off after signing day to “reconnect and introduce themselves to their families.”
“The recruiting process is like a bunch of game days,” Enos said. “You recruit against other schools, there’s intensity there and competition there. We have to be on, if you have one bad meeting or the energy level is not there, you can lose them. We’re on that emotional rollercoaster.
“You're exhausted after a day recruiting.”