The first Wednesday of February is always a fun experience as a sports reporter. It’s national signing day, as high school football players official ink their scholarships to play at the next level, and for the first time since starting their recruitment, college coaches can legally talk about said players.
A lot of folks argue the media makes too big of a fuss over NSD since most of the guys who sign don’t end up being stars at the next level. There’s validity to that. However, fans (AKA media consumers) love it, which is why it’s important to play it up.
We did that at The Coloradoan this week, and I’m proud to have headed up this project. Staying up until 1 a.m. working on coordinating with the print design studio and inputting data felt painful at times, but thanks to our end result, it hurt so good.
What we were able to deliver readers was an exceptional product, online and in print. Our print sports centerpiece was an analysis of Colorado State’s signing class, discussing whether the Rams filled their positional needs, presented with a cutout of the top prospect (Deionte Gaines) layered over the mugs of all 23 signees.
Inside, we had an entire page dedicated to the signing class. Down the middle were mugs and short bios of the 23 recruits, a notebook along the right rail, player Tweets and “By The Numbers” on the left and across the top was where CSU’s class ranked nationally and in the Mountain West according to major scouting websites.
Supplementing this content online was a photo gallery with mugs and action art of the recruits along with my personal favorite element, an interactive map. Building this was relatively easy using the lite engine for Google Maps, but it resonated well with readers. They could easily pick out a player’s name and see where in the world (quite literally) he’s from. The map is embedded below.
Big thanks should be extended to Kevin Lytle for helping track down a lot of these photos, Dan Watson and Jennifer Hefty their his copy-editing prowess and designer Dorrian Pulsinelli for making it look pretty in print. Dan also worked tirelessly in coordination with the design studio.