I did something today that I have never done.  I logged on to ESPN.com and checked the current draft class for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen before any other school.

Today is national signing day for NCAA football.  Now I’m no stranger to national signing day.  Every year its a crazy day with shocks, laugh, tons of conjecture and hope.  Notional media debates not only where high schoolers have signed but also why we need this national spectacle and point out guys like Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best Quarterback in the NFL, signed with Butte Community College on this day 10 years ago and didn’t have any fanfare.

Being from the northeast, national signing day and College football in general don’t get much attention.  Normally when I check it’s to see what the incoming classes of Michigan and Southern California will look like and debate them with friends.

This year is different.  When twitter informed me it was national signing day my first thought was how is UMass doing.  Now from a national stand point that sounds crazy, I mean, who cares about UMass football?  We’ll I do but now I can start getting serious.

These are big times for the UMass football program.  It was announced last year that the Minutemen would be moving up from the NCAA Division I Championship Series to the Bowl Division and the MAC Conference.

On Sunday two former Minutemen, Victor Cruz and James Ihedigbo will line up across from each other as starters for the New York Giants and the New England Patriots respectively in Super Bowl XLVI.

When I was a student at UMass, football was an after thought, behind hockey and basketball.  Granted, they did make a national title game and the student body rioted after the loss but for the most part, football isn’t really talked about around campus.

Now things are turning a corner.  The move to the BSC is a huge step and the recognition that Cruz and Ihedigbo will bring on Sunday is nothing but positive.  Add in UMass playing all its coming home games at Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots, for the coming years and all the pieces are in place for a great future.

The overall draft class of UMass, in the grand scheme of things today, doesn’t matter.  The fact that some people are starting to care about it, however, is a great sign of things to come.