During the past few years, national signing day has evolved into one of the most-anticipated events in the sporting world.
Today, throughout the country, high school football players will make their college commitments official by signing national letters of intent.
The Pensacola area is expected to have as many as 43 players sign today to play at various levels of college football.
Of those players, 11 athletes are headed to the Division I-A level, commonly referred to as the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Milton's Isaiah Jones (Florida State), Pace's Ryan Santoso (Minnesota), West Florida High's Nate Crawford (Missouri) and Northview's Neiko Robinson (Penn State) lead the list by signing with BCS automatic-qualifying conferences.
Navarre's Jordan Leggett already has enrolled at Clemson, giving the area five players who will be suiting up in one of the big-six conferences next season.
"I think (the coaches from BCS conferences) know the players here and there are coaches who have been recruiting this area for a very long time," Pensacola coach Mike Bennett said. "(Florida State's) Rick Trickett has been recruiting this area for as long as I remember. He always seems to pull one or two from here or Alabama. Ricky Smith, who was recruiting at South Florida and is now at East Carolina, is big in this area.
"They know there's players here and they want to tap into this area and see what there is to offer. There's always going to be five or six guys every year (signing) on (the FBS) level."
Since 2002, the Pensacola area has had 41 players sign college football scholarships with teams from the big six conferences -- Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference.
That number expects to grow, as college coaches continue to flock to the area to find the next big star to come out of the Panhandle.
"I think it has increased over the last few years," Warchant.com managing editor D.C. Reeves said. "I think a big help, obviously, starting with (former Escambia and University of Alabama star) Trent Richardson, is there's been a big upswing in exposure.
"I think another thing is that the Pensacola kids have done a great job of going out and creating that exposure. In the Panhandle, you're not in one of those 'talent-rich' areas like Orlando, Tampa, Miami where coaches pass through every week. You have to go out and get the exposure, and I think they do that by going to a Nike camp or a Rivals camp."
Richardson's success in college -- along with the success of other players from Pensacola in both the college and professional ranks -- has certainly kept the area on the map.
During the 2012 season, the Pensacola area featured 13 players in the NFL, including Pro Bowl selection Josh Sitton of the Green Bay Packers. Sitton signed with Central Florida out of Catholic High in 2004.
"I think the success of the players from this area definitely helps," Bennett said. "It is a big thing, most college guys recruit this area know this is hard-nosed football, tough football and kids will be tougher."
Defending BCS champion Alabama has been known to pluck a player or two from the Panhandle on occasion. Two years ago, the Tide signed former Catholc standout D.J. Pettway.
This year, the Tide is expected to sign former Washington High standout Darius Paige, who transferred to Foley High for his senior season.
"The Florida Panhandle is really important to us, and it always has been," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said during a visit to Pensacola in May of 2010. "There's a lot of Alabama people here, Alabama is close, and it is very, very important to us because the football is good and there are a lot of good football players.
"We try to recruit in a five-hour radius of Tuscaloosa, just like it's in-state. Our state is very important, but our five-hour radius is close enough to get some very good players, and this (area) is a big part of that."
Talent is one thing, but coaching also helps the area garner respect at the college level.
Having veteran coaches like Jerry Pollard (Pine Forest), Mickey Lindsey (Pace), Bennett (PHS) and Greg Seibert (Catholic) lends credibility, when it comes to spreading the word on local players.
"I think that plays a huge part in it," Reeves said. "Those contacts those guys have with the recruiters from that area is critical. Having guys like Pollard, Bennett, guys that have been around, not only do they feel they can come to those schools, but their word carries a lot of weight.
"When they talk about a kid, it's not coming from somebody with no credibility. It's coming from guys that have had a lot of Division I players, a lot of NFL players, and I think college coaches trust their opinion. It's always a big help, and I don't think it's any coincidence that those programs continue to have those Division I players."
Follow Brady Aymond at twitter.com/BAymondPNJ