Signing day always full of surprises

Updated: February 2, 2010, 11:03 AM ET
ESPN.com

Signing day has provided plenty of surprises through the years. But there are some moments that go above and beyond the usual hat tricks. ESPN.com's writers and analysts compiled their favorite signing day stories.

[+] EnlargeKevin Hart
Tim Dunn/Reno Gazette-JournalKevin Hart gets a handshake from head coach Mark Hodges after Hart announced he would attend Cal. He later recanted.

Hart of the matter
The biggest story of signing day 2008 wasn't where the top recruit signed -- it was the story of Kevin Hart, the small-town high school football player who held a news conference in front of his entire school to announce his decision to attend Cal. Small problem: Cal never recruited Hart. What started as a small lie spiraled totally out of control.

Double trouble at Dallas Carter
In 1988, Dallas Carter was the toast of Texas. The team was crowned state champions, and its stars were being courted by major Division I schools. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Gil LeBreton, safety Derric Evans memorably signed his letter of intent to Tennessee while sitting in a hot tub, celebrating with a glass of wine. Evans didn't make it to Tennessee; he and another Dallas Carter teammate, Gary Edwards, instead took a detour to jail for their role in a series of armed robberies of video stores and fast-food joints.

Nod To The Past
Tired of the baseball hats? So was Andre Smith. In 2006, Smith was the No. 4-ranked recruit in the country. Offered scholarships by every major program in the country, Smith had his pick of schools. So on signing day, the Birmingham, Ala., native surprised many by pulling out a houndstooth hat to announce his decision to play for the hometown Tide.

[+] EnlargeTerelle Pryor
AP Photo/Don WrightTerelle Pryor called a press conference on signing day to announce that he wasn't ready to make a decision.

Pryor Commitments
Terrelle Pryor was the most in-demand prospect in the class of 2008. On signing day, he had college coaches on pins and needles -- only to announce that he would be taking more time to make his decision. He waited until the end of the basketball season -- a week after he led the Jeannette (Pa.) Jayhawks to a state championship -- to sign with Ohio State.

The Name Game
What's in a name? Everything, when you're Mike Anderson. After rushing for more than 3,000 yards in two years at Mount San Jacinto Junior College, Anderson was ready to sign with Missouri. One small problem: The paperwork Missouri sent him had someone else's name on it. Anderson took that as a sign and looked elsewhere, eventually signing with Utah.

Price is Right
Durrell Price would have been one of Ohio State's biggest recruits in the Class of 1996. According to the Los Angeles Times, Price went to a local drugstore to fax in his letter of intent to the Buckeyes. Ohio State coaches received all of the paperwork -- except for the letter of intent. Given a second chance to evaluate his options, Price reconsidered and signed with UCLA instead.

[+] EnlargeWillie Williams
AP Photo/Lou TomanWillie Williams' path to college hit a snag when his arrest record became public.

Wild Willie
Willie Williams first made headlines for his recruiting diaries for The Miami Herald -- stories of steak dinners, hotel rooms with Jacuzzis, and other extravagant expenditures. In the summer of 2004, the NCAA instituted recruiting reforms, including banning the use of private jets, five-star meals and other "personal recruiting aids" (like personalized jerseys). Williams committed to Miami on signing day; a day later, his record -- including 12 arrests, including one while he was visiting Florida -- was made public. His enrollment to Miami was delayed, and his career never materialized.

Two For One
Usually, signing a letter of intent ends the recruitment process. Jonathan Colon and Markish Jones took a different approach: Both players signed two letters of intent. In 2000, Colon signed with both Miami and Florida. Although the first letter, to Miami, would have been binding, the Canes agreed to let Colon go to the Gators. Jones, on the other hand, clearly wanted to be coached by a Bowden. He signed with then-Clemson coach Tommy Bowden and then-Florida State coach Bobby Bowden in 2007. Because he signed with Clemson first, the ACC ruled that the commitment to the Tigers would be upheld. Jones never signed with Clemson, instead playing two years at a junior college before signing with Cal in 2009.

Coachspeak
Signing day doesn't always bring out the best in coaches. Coaches have been known to call out other coaches and recruits who decommitted. But one of the most memorable was then-Purdue coach Joe Tiller's comments in 2008, after the Boilermakers lost commit Roy Roundtree to Michigan. "If we had an early signing date, you wouldn't have another outfit with a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil get a guy at the last minute, but that's what happened," Tiller said.

What Has Brown Done For You?
In 2009, Bryce Brown made headlines not just for his play on the field -- he was the No. 8 overall player in his class -- but also for his relationship with advisor Brian Butler. Butler claimed to be training Brown and a few other area prospects, but raised eyebrows when he began charging a subscription fee to his Web site, PotentialPlayers.com, which contained updates on the players' college visits and commitments.