It's a holiday edition of Numbers Game. No, not one with gifts wrapped under a tree or a feast served with the backdrop of football games blaring on a television.
Nor is it a federally observed holiday.
Nonetheless, this Wednesday marks a day that is viewed each year with part anticipation and part spectacle.
Of course, we're talking about National Signing Day when high school football and soccer stars sign national letters of intent to make their college choices official.
So Manatee County's weekly fix for digit crunching is the go-to stop for some National Signing Day data as well as your regular smorgasbord of important figures.
And away we go:
Early enrollees at various colleges. A continuing trend in football is to arrive at college a semester early to get acclimated with the transition from high school to college football. Palmetto quarterback Jack Allison did it by heading down to Miami, while IMG Academy signal-caller Shea Patterson (Ole Miss) led a contingent of
Ascenders who are already in college following last fall's prep season.
It's not just high school football stars leaving for college a little early. Ciara Donnelly early enrolled at Mississippi State to play women's soccer after graduating from IMG Academy in December.
College signings scheduled for Wednesday that come from the Braden River Soccer Club. Eleven girls soccer players off the Braden River Rage U-18 team play at various high schools around the area. The club atmosphere of traveling to tournaments and regular practices have led the players into their college commitments. Six of the 11 play high school ball in Manatee County. They are Manatee's Kylie Ameres (Gardner-Webb), Brianna Blethen (South Florida) and Meredith Roberts (Florida Atlantic); Lakewood Ranch's Conli Schwarz (Belmont-Abbey), Danielle Wilson (Emory) and Nicole Wurster (Gardner-Webb).
Amount of Braden River football players expected to sign Wednesday at various colleges. That number could increase by the time Signing Day commences. For now, the top players ready to ink the dotted line are quarterback Jacob Huesman (Appalachian State), offensive lineman Alex Salguero (Marshall), JoJo Louis (Florida International) and Ryan Neuzil (Appalachian State).
Salguero anchored an offensive line that produced a program-record 5,050 offensive yards last fall. Louis was part of a defense that tallied 27 interceptions, which is also a program record. Meanwhile, Palmetto has seven signings planned, Manatee with five signings scheduled and one for Lakewood Ranch.
Current consecutive Super Bowls that won't feature at least one player from Manatee or Sarasota counties. Prior to the current streak, the Big Game saw at least one former high school gridiron star from the area as part of a Super Bowl participant six out of the previous seven years. Former Southeast High and Florida State University legend Peter Warrick started the streak as a member of the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 40. Sarasota Riverview alum and current football head coach Todd Johnson played for the Chicago Bears the following year.
Lakewood Ranch's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was part of Arizona's thrilling loss to Pittsburgh at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa two years after Johnson's participation. Sarasota Booker's Sam Shields and Riverview's David Baas played in the next two for the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants, respectively.
But none from the area have played in the Super Bowl since then.
However, IMG Academy trainees are currently dotting both rosters for the Big Game. They include Carolina's Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Devin Funchess, Josh Norman, Trai Turner, Graham Gano and Brandon Wegher and Denver's Aqib Talib.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill and like his Facebook page at Jason Dill Bradenton Herald.