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There's more to a college football recruiting class than just National Signing Day

Fans are misguided in placing so much emphasis on which recruits commit on Signing Day and ignoring players already in the class.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

"Touchdown, Florida State! And because NCAA rules state that players who commit on National Signing Day are given an extra two points per touchdown, that score by Johnny Recruit is worth eight points," said no announcer ever.

But from judging how fans approach National Signing Day, you wonder if some feel that way. All of the major fanbases seem to be hyper-focused solely on who they might land as National Signing Day approaches.

And from a news perspective, this makes sense. Most major recruiting fans already know the current members of their class and want to know who else they can get.

From an evaluation perspective, however, placing disproportionate weight on the impact of National Signing Day makes no sense. There's a reason I plan to run separate "best classes" and "who won National Signing Day" articles on SB Nation Thursday -- the two are not the same. To get the true judgment of the class, one needs to look at the entire class, not just what was added to the class on National Signing Day.

For Florida State, that analysis begins with noting that the Seminoles enrolled eight players early, a major benefit to them as they begin their careers. That includes five four- or five-stars. It's the best group of early enrollees Florida State has ever had. Getting those players to enroll early is a major bonus, and early enrollees are actually more valuable due to the extra work they can get in and the certainty they provide a team.

Florida State is set to sign a class that will likely finish anywhere from No. 2 to No. 5, with one of the highest per-recruit ratings in the country. It is following the National Championship blueprint of signing more four- and five-stars than lesser rated recruits.

But the new car smell of those stars already in the class has worn off a bit to fans of recruiting.

In part, this is media driven. Leading up to National Signing Day, only so many articles can be published on recruits already in the class. Every media outlet covering recruiting focuses on the prospects remaining on the board. Some overestimate a school's chances with certain prospects, which only heightens the level of hype, and subsequent disappointment if a school fails to land the prospect.

Florida State fans would likely feel much better going into National Signing Day if prospects like Josh Sweat, Jacques Patrick, Derwin James and George Campbell were still on the board and leaning to Florida State. What an exciting close that would be. But they're not on the board. They're in class, in the weight room and on the practice field. Sweat, who likely would have been the No. 1 overall recruit had he not blown out his knee is rehabbing and training. James and Campbell are going against guys like Travis Rudolph and Jalen Ramsey in practice. Recency bias does not win games.

When a team wraps up its top reasonable and likely targets early, what is left going into National Signing Day is largely longer-shots and backup plans. There is value in closing it out strongly, and that can make a very good class or a great class into an all-time class, but be mindful that the success rate on the major longer-shots won't be all that high.