Today the top high school football players across the country will sign national letters of intent to the program of their choice.
They are the fortunate ones.
National studies reveal that less than 1 percent of high school athletes not just football players receive scholarships. The rest are left to scramble and wonder. Signing day is about crunching numbers, high school coaches say. College programs generally have up to 25 scholarships to hand out, and there's a talent pool numbering in the tens of thousands.
"It's getting harder to get a scholarship at any level," Franklin coach Mike Johnson said. "You realize that kids play high school football for the experience, to play for your school, to hang out with your buddies, to wear a jersey. If you're a scholarship kid, they'll find you. Most aren't scholarship kids.
"I think now signing day has become more of a sad day for so many because there are more kids scratching their heads wondering."
Some 25 local football players there could be more will accept full scholarships today when they sign national letters of intent. Others will sign financial aid and/or partial scholarship packages with smaller programs.
The regional headliner is defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes of Placer. He's a five-star recruit, pursued by the top programs for his skill set, grades and a 6-foot-4, 303-pound body. He'll decide among UCLA, USC, Washington, Notre Dame and Alabama, concluding an exciting yet draining process.
"I know I'm one of the lucky ones," Vanderdoes said recently. "I know these (scholarships) are hard to get."
"If Eddie V was the same exact player but was 6-2, 215 pounds, he wouldn't be getting a scholarship," Johnson said. "It's a size thing. But Eddie's an off-the-charts dude. Most aren't."
Recruiters look for size, potential and grades. Season statistics are not a factor. For every 5-7, 190-pound tailback with big stats and good grades, such as Burbank's Isaiah Williams, there are dozens of 6-foot runners with grades just as good. The numbers game always wins out.
"I have good grades, (an NCAA) qualifier, and I had a great year," said Williams, an All-Metro pick who rushed for 2,087 yards. "But I have no offers. It's frustrating."
Winning championships makes for lasting memories, coaches say, but it doesn't guarantee scholarships, either, debunking another myth.
Elk Grove occupied The Bee's No. 1 ranking for the season's first eight weeks, then gave way to Franklin. The Bee's final top-ranked teams Folsom (14-1), Granite Bay (13-3), Oak Ridge (12-2), Franklin (12-1), Elk Grove (12-2) and Burbank (12-1) have a total of four full-scholarship signees.
Folsom receiver-defensive back Phillip Carter will sign with Duke. Granite Bay defensive end-linebacker Beau Hershberger is headed to Nevada (Granite Bay does have 14 other athletes signing today in other sports, such as track and field, tennis and soccer).
Franklin defensive back Marcus Green will sign with Sacramento State. Oak Ridge tight end Ross Dwelley is headed to the University of San Diego.
"There is a lot more to it than being a great athlete," Elk Grove coach Chris Nixon said. "You have to be able to fit the size and speed mold, too. And academically, it's only getting tougher to qualify."
This is true at all levels, coaches say, including Division III or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics programs.
"Just because it's a smaller college doesn't mean it's easier to get into," Vista del Lago coach Chris Jones said.
Bee Player of the Year Brandon Monroe of Del Oro, a 6-1, 190-pound running back-safety, will sign with San Jose State. Bee Defensive Player of the Year Zach Claiborne (6-1, 215) led the state in sacks (25 1/2) but has no offers. He may go the community college route. Bee Offensive Player of the Year Jake Browning of Folsom is a sophomore, just now warming up to the recruiting game.
Jesuit All-Metro athlete Thomas Sperbeck isn't large (6-0, 180), but he will sign with Boise State, as will 6-2, 220-pound Nevada Union linebacker Tanner Vallejo and Pleasant Grove defensive tackle Nick Terry (6-4, 275).
Franklin running back Christian Fonbuena and lineman Bryce Mann will sign with small colleges Colorado Mesa and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, respectively.
"And they're ecstatic, and as a coach, I'm very happy for them, too," Johnson said.