By Ethan Cahn aka hhliving1101

For years we have had limited choices in college cards and memorabilia. Sage and Press Pass have been the mainstays for years in this arena, and have always been a hot issue early due to the release of the products around the draft, but they seem to fall out of favor by the beginning of the season after the rookies have their “NFL” rookie cards.

I personally have been quite a fan of the Press Pass sets since the beginning: the on-card autographs, college game-worn jerseys, and nice base card stock made me a fan years ago. Sage has tried, but they seem to be stuck in the 90′s with their base sets, which I find flimsy and stale. Their autographs are stickers, and while the designs of their autographed cards mix well with the stickers on the card, they still are stickers.

This year, starting very soon (late August), Upper Deck will enter this market. Can they move the college collectible market beyond what Press Pass or Sage could? As much as I like the Press Pass sets, they really have hit their peak, so I am unsure what they can do to move forward within the field.

We only have a few things to go on with the inaugural Upper Deck collegiate product, but from the looks of what they have begun to do as evident at the NFL rookie premier event last week, we could be in for something very special.

In only 4 hours, Upper Deck managed to collect close to 11,000 on-card autographs for their upcoming Sweet Spot release.

Damian Williams and other rookies getting it done signing for UD.

Gerald McCoy was fun. He signed so much that day, they had to tape his fingers.

Per Upper Deck, they collected 17,413 autographs during the day.

You have to remember what Upper Deck has done in the past 21 years. They reinvented and invigorated the market for baseball in the beginning of the 90′s. In 1996, they established the “true” introduction to collectible memorabilia (jersey) cards.  Others tried first, but there are no other jersey cards that are as revered as the 1996 Upper Deck game jerseys.

This may be their last shot, and it has to count. The recent developments of counterfeiting, inauthentic cut autographs, and litigation have tarnished this former powerhouse in the sports memorabilia market into a company hanging on by a thread. With that said, can the college market during the season continue as strong as it is during the draft bonanza every year?

Below are the pictures that Chris Carlin’s Upper Deck team shared with us on Facebook. Enjoy what the future of collegiate collecting could very well become (all quotes are those of the staff from Upper Deck listed directly on their page):

“Ryan Mathews 2010 Sweet Spot Football cards laid out, ready to be signed.”

“Ryan Mathews signing a ‘Bulldogs’ variation of the Sweet Spot helmet cards.”

“Ryan Mathews signed ‘Bulldog’ variation of the helmet cards.”

Inscriptions will be included in this year’s set, too; check this out:

“He’s a ‘Ramblin Wreck’ from Georgia Tech!”

Not sure if there will be much interest in these cards????

“Tim Tebow signing his 2010 Sweet Spot helmet cards.”

I will leave you with this: compared to the others in the market, Upper Deck sure looks like it’s going to shake things up quite a bit. I’ve never been much of a college collector, but I look forward to seeing what else they have in store for us. Change is all around us in the industry. This is the first time during all the madness happening that I have been excited about collecting again, because of cards like this: