New Signing Period a Game-Changer?

The NCAA voted to establish a 72-hour early signing period for college football recruits, starting December 20th.

There have been talks and support for an early signing period for recruits, so this comes without surprise to many. However, the ramifications of the game have been slightly altered because of this new policy, both good and bad.

The positive reasons are pretty straightforward. For one, players who graduate early from high school no longer have to sign financial aid papers in order to declare their school of choice. They have the ability to have the signing day experience that those who wait receive.

Second, it will force Power Five schools to not make as many scholarship offers. We've all heard cases in which athletes commit to the school of their choice, only to have their offer taken away at the last moment. These provisional offers would have to become more limited. That same athlete could be offered from a Group of Five school, knowing it wouldn't be provisional and sign early, throwing oral commitments out the window.

Third, if a coach thinks they have a solid commitment with a player, yet that player chooses not to sign and takes more official visits, the coach knows upfront that they may have to re-evaluate things and have time to adjust accordingly.

The negatives? Well, the timing is difficult. Generally, December 20th is in the early stages of bowl season, so for many programs, their focus is on the bowl game (or playoff game) and not on recruiting, as pointed out by LSU Coach Ed Orgeron during a SEC teleconference. The adjustments from those assistants who recruit, who now know they'll be having to double check on recruits will be an interesting twist. Also, the pressure on the recruit will be extremely intense. High school athletes already are followed and intensely recruited by fan bases on social media.

Take that, plus coaches calling and persuading to sign early and what's usually a pressure-filled situation gets ramped up that much more. The recruitment process should be an enjoyable one and for many, it's just that. However, the potential pitfalls from coaches and fans alike, pressuring a kid to just put pen to ink, will always be there.

We'll know more when the first period comes and goes. It's obvious that it changes the recruiting game and that something that's been called for many years is now official. But for now, a lot of eyes will be focused on December 20th.

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