ARLINGTON, Texas —
An extravagant National Signing Day ceremony calls for a venue to match.
USA Football this year chose Jerry Jones' $1.3 billion AT&T Stadium, and 49 high school seniors who signed on the dotted line Wednesday morning wholeheartedly approved.
"There could be no better place for this,'' said Notre Dame signee Greer Martini
, an inside linebacker from Woodberry Forest (Va.)
. "I've only seen this place on television. It's huge. Then to look up and see your game highlights on the big screen when they introduce you is just awesome. Signing in a pro stadium is something I could have never imagined.''
Friends and family clicked cameras. Seating for more than 700 and a podium overlooked the west end zone. College helmets were at the ready for photos. Pretty elaborate, compared to the likely alternative back home -- a cramped coach's office.MaxPreps National Signing Day landing page
For Renell Wren
of Lutheran North (St. Louis)
, it was good to get away for signing day because schools in his hometown were closed due to snow.
"We'd have to be looking for a store somewhere to fax my paperwork,'' said Wren, a defensive end headed for Arizona State.
The signees, members of the USA Football U19 and U18 teams, are in town to play teams from Canada as part of a series of six age-group games.Nebraska high school star chooses Stanford
Like a typical high school kid growing up in Nebraska, Harrison Phillips
dreamed of becoming a Cornhusker. But when Nebraska waited too long to make an offer, Phillips made a left turn to Stanford.
"I felt like with Nebraska, I was a last resort,'' said the 6-4, 260-pound defensive lineman from Millard West (Omaha, Neb.)
. "Their attitude was 'We know this is what you want and now, finally, you can have it.'''
While never a die-hard, face-painting Nebraska fan, Phillips said he watched all the games and would have jumped at committing in his early high school years.
Stanford's interest in 2012 intrigued Phillips. He liked the fact that the Cardinal defensive line coach was recognized as the best in the country, even though he knew better than to make his decision based on a coach.
"Academics are important,'' said Phillips, who intends to major in human biology. "It is nice knowing even if I got hurt, I'd still have that Stanford education.''
Professional football is a goal for Phillips, who has won two Nebraska state wrestling titles. Stanford is getting a player that loves football.
"I live for it,'' said Phillips. "I hear guys talk about how they hate practice. Not me. I pride myself on my passion for the game.''
Phillips is sure Stanford will find its way to the Rose Bowl. And he's hoping its opponent will be Nebraska.
"But they've got to win the Big Ten first.''Late change for DL Evans
Defensive lineman Craig Evans
a week ago reversed field, decommitting from Wisconsin and signing Wednesday with Michigan State. USA Football teammate Enoch Smith Jr.
, also a defensive lineman, was in part responsible.
"Enoch has been recruiting me since we met in a camp last year in Chicago,'' said Evans, from Sun Prairie (Wis.)
Said Chicago-native Smith, from Mount Carmel (Chicago)
: "Getting the chance to play for the No. 1 defense in the country is a good reason.''
Completing the Michigan State signing trio was defensive back TJ Harrell
of Tampa Catholic (Fla.)
.RB Perine draws Peterson comparisons
The physical running style of Hendrickson (Pflugerville, Texas)
running back Samaje Perine
has drawn comparisons to Adrian Peterson. And just like the Minnesota Vikings' star, Perine is leaving Texas to play for the Oklahoma Sooners.
"I'd say my style is a downhill runner that is not going to make too many moves,'' said the 6-foot, 213-pounder who rushed for more than 3,500 yards in the last two seasons.
Despite living close to the University of Texas, Perine said the Longhorns were never in the picture.
"I wanted to get away from home,'' he said. "Oklahoma is a great school with great coaches and I have a chance to contribute early.''Oregon widens recruiting net
Slot receiver Charles Nelson
of Seabreeze (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
waited until a week before signing day to choose Oregon in a list that included Southern California and Notre Dame.
Nelson said Oregon's style of offense is perfect for him.
Another Oregon signee was defensive lineman Jalen Jelks
of Desert Vista (Phoenix)
"I know Oregon has had coaching changes, but to me they seem better now,'' said the 6-5, 249-pounder.
Jelks almost quit football as a high school freshman because of a lack of playing time.Notes
: Kansas State is getting a real farm boy in center Dalton Risner
of Wiggins (Colo.)
. He has a couple of horses, 20 head of cattle and stacks bales of hay … Offensive tackle Brady Taylor
of Bishop Ready (Columbus, Ohio)
is staying home to attend Ohio State. The 264-pounder hopes to become a registered dietitian … Wide receiver James Mayden
of Sachse (Texas)
, a Rice signee, is a pastry chef.