Column: McGovern took the recruiting route fewer now travelNational Signing Day on Wednesday was a day of excess and ego stroking for many of the nation’s top high school football players.
National Signing Day on Wednesday was a day of excess and ego stroking for many of the nation’s top high school football players.
It was a day in which teenagers sitting in packed gymnasiums toyed with media types and fans, who all waited with baited breath to find out his college selection.
Some even surprised by backing out of an earlier verbal commitment to sign with a different school.
There were live blogs with up-to-date signings, and the University of Alabama had a Webcam focused on its athletic department fax machine to get the signed letters of intent to the masses in real time. The camera was a hit, by the way, as much for the woman wearing the micro mini-skirt plucking the paper from the fax as it was for the actual information value. But we digress.
Thankfully, things don’t always go overboard on Signing Day.
Fargo Shanley senior offensive lineman Connor McGovern could have made a spectacle of Wednesday. He could have had the big table, the packed gymnasium, all the media types watching as he placed the University of Missouri hat on his head.
He could have. But he vetoed that idea long ago.
Instead, McGovern spent the day with his classmates playing in a dodgeball tournament at Shanley High School to raise money for charity during Catholic Schools Week.
His team, Reston Peace, lost in the quarterfinals despite having several Deacons athletes and the hulking 6-foot-4, 280-pound McGovern.
McGovern’s signed letter of intent to Mizzou was prepared and faxed early in the day.
“People who would care about it already know where I’m going because I’ve been committed for so long,” he said. “So there is not a big deal going on about it. I never really thought about doing anything until people asked me about it. I just never thought about doing any kind of big celebration or anything like that.”
McGovern, who helped Shanley to the North Dakota Class 2A title in each of the last two seasons, didn’t get the star treatment because he refused to let the recruiting process drag out.
His first Division I offers came the summer after his junior year. It was North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota. Missouri showed interest shortly after, and McGovern verbally committed to the Tigers in early August.
“Mizzou was No. 1 because of their rank in the nation,” he said of the Tigers, who finished 18th in the final AP coaches poll after a 10-3 season. “I wanted to focus on my team, I wanted to focus on the Deacons and focus on winning another state championship. I wanted to get all the personal stuff out of the way and focus on the team.”
Projected as a center at Missouri, McGovern says he’s excited to start his first college season. He’s been preparing in the weight room for the most difficult challenge of his football career.
McGovern remains a workout wonder. He’s dead-lifted more than 600 pounds and squatted 515 during training.
McGovern’s quiet “Signing Day” came as no shock to former Shanley coach Steve Laqua, who was recently hired as the head coach at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
“I think he’s unbelievably humble in the fact that you would never know he’s the state’s best football player who is going to a BCS school,” Laqua said. “He very much understands that no one person is bigger than the team.”
His character has never wavered since he was a baby-faced, chubby 6-3, 250-pound Shanley freshman.
Of course, there was no way he was backing out of his commitment to Missouri. McGovern still had plenty of choices to make Wednesday.
And all eyes were on him in a packed gymnasium as he surveyed the dodgeballs that lay in front of him. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a live feed to beam McGovern’s modest “Signing Day” to the world.
It was far more interesting than Alabama’s micro mini skirt and fax machine, or any live blog.
“I just love playing football,” McGovern said. “You can’t really have the mindset, especially as a lineman, that you want all the attention. I don’t feel like I deserve a lot of personal awards, I just like to play.”
Hotzler is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.