National Signing Day, the annual rite of winter that sees high school football players fulfill their dreams of playing in college on scholarship, is Wednesday.

If it were only so pure.

Plainly speaking, it’s big business, as programs across the country spend thousands of man hours — not to mention millions of dollars, particularly in the SEC — in an effort to land the best possible recruiting class. High school seniors will be dangerously deified by boosters, alumni and run-of-the-mill fans alike, all before they so much as get fitted for a mouthpiece at the next level.

According to the latest composite rankings at 247Sports, the SEC boasts five of the top eight classes in the nation when judged by the quality of their verbal commitments.

Taking all 14 schools in the conference into consideration, from LSU at the top (No. 1) to Missouri at the bottom (No. 52), the average rank is 21.6 — that’s better than Oklahoma’s class, which is No. 24. The Sooners, you’ll remember, were one of four teams that qualified for the College Football Playoff this past season.

The Tigers have 23 commitments, led by five-star defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence from Monroe (La.) Neville High School.

The rest of the class — remember these are “verbal” commitments, meaning they aren’t binding until those fax machines fire up Wednesday — includes 17 four-star recruits and five three-star prospects. Five of those four-star athletes are already on campus as early enrollees, making them eligible to participate in spring practice and potentially more prepared to contribute as freshmen.

However, of those 23 players, there isn’t a four-star quarterback among them.

Brandon Harris is the incumbent under center for coach Les Miles. The rising junior was only a 53.6-percent passer in 2015 with a mediore touchdown-to-interception ratio of 13-to-6. As a result, he finished 63rd nationally with an efficiency rating of just 130.5 — one spot behind FIU’s Alex McGough. To be fair, Miles employs a run-heavy scheme featuring the breath-taking ability of Leonard Fournette.

Still, former Tiger Zach Mettenberger put together a 171.4 rating in the same system as recently as 2013. And Mettenberger shared the backfield with Jeremy Hill, who was a 1,400-yard rusher himself.

Feleipe Franks, a four-star signal caller from Crawfordville (Fla.) Wakulla High School, decommitted from LSU at the 11th hour and enrolled early at Florida instead, perhaps due to the power struggle Miles endured down the stretch in Baton Rouge.

“The way classes are rated need to change,” said Corey Long, who is the recruiting analyst for Saturday Down South. “The idea that a five-star linebacker has more value than a four-star quarterback is silly to me. Obviously, linebacker is an important position. But quarterback is the most important position on the field.”

There are several recruiting services crowding the market, from 247 to ESPN and Rivals to Scout. But for the most part, no matter the site, stars are stars.

“Quarterbacks, offensive tackles, defensive linemen and cornerbacks should hold higher value than offensive skill players, linebackers, safeties and interior offensive linemen,” Long said.

While National Signing Day has become the Super Bowl of recruiting, with a stunning amount of round-the-clock coverage provided by print, radio and television outlets, the fact that kids can’t send in their paperwork until February is viewed by many as a problem.

Most of the four- and five-star studs have been on the radar of elite programs for years — even more so the past decade with college camps, 7-on-7 tournaments and all-star games now ubiquitous from coast to coast. Social media leads to more interaction between players and coaches than ever before. Online tools like Hudl make it a snap for players to assemble highlight reels and coaches to evaluate game film.

These days, college coaches going to high school games is less about seeing the actual play on the field. It’s more about building relationships with players and parents.

Since there is more information out there than ever before, both in terms of what the coaches know and what the recruits know, there’s little reason to wait until February anymore.

“We need an early signing period, preferably around Thanksgiving,” Long said. “And there needs to be some guidelines for it.”

Once the John Hancocks are official, readers will be inundated with stories about who “won” signing day. Who closed strong, who limped to the finish line, who is now awfully flush at so-and-so position, who is now terribly thin at such-and-such position — yet many of these players will never so much as show up in a box score. Some will get injured. Some will transfer. Some will simply not be as good as advertised.

Others may not be cut out for college all together.

“Recruits that are not already academically qualified shouldn’t be allowed to sign a letter of intent until they are cleared,” Long said. “In most cases, this is a recruit that needs a test score. The idea that a school signs a kid not qualified yet and then they can make arrangements to give them the SAT/ACT verbally is a little questionable and leads to controversy.”

We all love college football. We all love our team. Some of Wednesday’s signees will go on to be All-Americans, first-round draft picks and multi-millionaires. Others will be just one of 85 scholarship players on a roster. Either way, so long as he’s wearing your colors, you’ll cheer for him on Saturday.

But seeing how the recruiting sausage is actually made can be tough for even the most rabid of fans.

Even the Big Ten has developed some SEC-like tactics lately, with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in particular generating headlines that look like they were ripped from The Onion.

“Personally, I wish coaches would show more decorum,” Long said. “I don’t like the idea of sleepovers, and neither should parents of recruits. But I think that’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Don’t be surprised if every coach in America travels with a sleeping bag in the trunk of his rental car by this time next year.