It only seems hopeless.
Despite our most desperate wishes that they might change their minds, the NFL's official release of early-entry draft candidates sealed the deal. LSU defensive end and Imperial Galactic Overlord Barkevious Mingo has left college football. So too has Central Florida's Jose Jose -- the defensive tackle so nice they named him twice.
Who could possibly fill the void left by these titans on the All-Name Team? Is there anyone preparing to affix his signature to a National Letter of Intent who can mend the hole in our name-obsessed hearts? Yes, America. There is.
His name is Dee Liner. Guess what position he plays?
"I'm strictly D-line," Liner said.
Rivals.com ranks Liner, a 6-foot-2, 274-pounder from Muscle Shoals, Ala., as the No. 2 strongside defensive end in the country. In SI.com's recruiting All-Name rankings, Liner is No. 1 in the nation. Back in 2011, Liner was the first commitment for Auburn's class of 2013. But after the Tigers fired coach Gene Chizik after he went 0-8 in SEC play and new coach Gus Malzahn -- who was actually Auburn's offensive coordinator when Liner committed -- fired the rest of the staff, Liner changed his mind. He decommitted earlier this month after taking an official visit to Alabama.
Should Liner sign with the Crimson Tide, it will be an intriguing exercise to wade into the muck of the AL.com comments section and watch Alabama fans defend Liner, who had two legal scrapes last year, against Auburn fans who will question his character. Here's guessing a few commenters will point out that last summer, Auburn fans defended Liner against Alabama fans who questioned his character. That's 'Crootin, folks. You love them when they love you.
Also expect Alabama fans to gloat because in a few years, Liner could be the captain of the collegiate All-Name Team. After all, Navy safety Wave Ryder and Wake Forest defensive tackle Godspower Offor will eventually graduate, and someone must step in to lead the creatively monikered masses.
In All-Name circles, Liner's name is unusual because it isn't unusual at all. It stands little chance in the Name of the Year Bracket -- an all-inclusive contest that saw then-LSU recruit Mingo beat a Michigan political science grad named Iris Macadangdang for the 2009 title. But given the circumstances, Liner's name is perfect. If Liner played offensive tackle or fullback, he wouldn't appear on this list, but just as Wave Ryder and Navy are the ideal marriage of player and school, Dee Liner the defensive end is the ultimate union of player and position. So don't slim him down and make him a Jack linebacker, Nick Saban.
Liner's name is so ideal that I'm willing to overlook the fact that Dee is not even his real first name. It's Davion. His mother began calling him Dee early on, and the rest of the family picked up the nickname. "They've been calling me Dee since I was little," Liner said. "They called me Little Dee. Now they call me Big Dee."
If you're more of a name purist, you'll still probably look toward Tuscaloosa for your favorite name on National Signing Day. North Little Rock, Ark., tailback Altee Tenpenny plans to join Alabama's class, and he has the best pure (on the birth certificate) name in the class of 2013. Say it out loud. Altee Tenpenny. Altee Tenpenny. Altee Tenpenny. It just rolls off the tongue.
With a name like that, Tenpenny's career options were limited to famous athlete or British butler for a billionaire playboy philanthropist/caped superhero. Tenpenny chose wisely. Now that "nails" has once again become a fashionable compliment to pay a tough performer -- after a brief break caused by Lenny Dykstra's legal issues -- it feels perfect that a 212-pound back would have a last name that also doubles as the name of a size of large metal fastener.
Alabama isn't the only school that could land multiple All-Namers. West Virginia has America's dreamiest class thanks to junior college transfer Dreamius Smith, a 220-pound back who has already enrolled for the spring semester in Morgantown. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers also have a commitment from d'Vante Howard, a lanky linebacker from Arizona Western Community College. Howard, who signed with Oregon State out of high school, will fit right in with Mountaineers coach d'Ana Holgorsen, who throws an empty Red Bull can at your first-letter capitalizing conventions.
A year after Louisville landed offensive lineman Abraham "Nacho" Garcia and Tulane landed safety Walker "Fudge" Van Hooser, recruiting remains an appetizing business. Tallassee, Ala., receiver Dijon Paschal is committed to Arkansas State. Pickerington, Ohio, defensive end Vidaunte "Taco" Charlton has already enrolled at Michigan. (So has fellow Pickerington native Jake Butt, whose name is as fun to say as Altee Tenpenny's.) Meanwhile, Marshall hopes to land the signature of a Myrtle Beach, S.C., cornerback who never gets called by his given name of D'Andre Wilson. "When I was born, I came out extra, extra dark," Wilson told Jacob Messer of HerdNation.com. "My dad said he was going to name me Chocolate. The name stuck. I have been called that my whole life. That is all I go by here. People don't know D'Andre; they know Chocolate."
Meanwhile, some recruits will bring already famous names with them to college. Are you talkin' to Cleveland Heights, Ohio, athlete De'Niro Laster? Minnesota is. Tempe, Ariz., receiver Paul Elvira will probably look most at home at Arizona if the Wildcats use alternate black uniforms. And in Lincoln, linebacker Courtney Love has already enrolled at Nebraska. After giving up 70 points in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin, the Cornhuskers have plenty of Holes to fill on defense.
If these players live up to their handles, they'll go from All-Name recruits to genuine All-Namers. And that truly will be a (Buffalo linebacker) Wonderful Terrific Monds.