The buzz surrounding National Signing Day, that first Wednesday in February, is about to lose some volume and hype.
And that’s OK.
High school football players, parents and coaches should be writing thank-you notes to the NCAA for what it did to overhaul the recruiting process.
This past Friday, the NCAA Division I council passed a wide-ranging series of changes that will impact the 2019 recruiting class. Official visits will be earlier. Schools can hire a 10th on-field assistant coach who is allowed to go on recruiting trips. Summer camps conducted by Division I programs will be condensed to a 10-day period in June. Satellite camps will only be conducted on member campuses.
The official visit move is a good idea, because there are kids who have come through the process to have a pretty good idea of where they want to go.”
- Colleyville Heritage head football coach Joe Willis
Most importantly, an earlier signing period that would be proposed for mid-December will be voted on by conference commissioners when they meet in June. If that’s passed, as it is expected to, players likely will have 72 hours to either sign or wait until February.
For those of you who have consumed recruiting news like it’s you can’t get enough, you should also appreciate these changes.
Here’s what I mean. When it comes to the more, you’re going to see recruits start taking official visits as early as the first weekend of April. The visit period can start on April 1. That’s helpful, because players can see programs through spring football. That will also help the early signers to move into the final stages.
Players like Colleyville Heritage 2019 wide receiver Kameron Brown and Northwest V.R. Eaton 2019 running back Titus Swen can get started earlier. These two have already had enough exposure to know which schools are serious and which are not. Brown took a first step when he announced last week he’s reduced his number of contenders to 12.
“The official visit move is a good idea, because there are kids who have come through the process to have a pretty good idea of where they want to go,” Colleyville Heritage head coach Joe Willis said. “By this time, a lot of them have done their research.”
The early signing period is probably being met by some coaches with resistance. Willis is one of them. When you see mid-December, that’s right around the week leading up to either the state championship games or the state semifinals.
While the time frame is impacting a small sample, it could be a distraction to those players who are getting ready to play the most important games of their lives. Keep in mind, Texas is one of a few states whose high school football season is one of the longest in the United States. It’s the exception, not the norm.
I can understand where coaches like Willis are coming from on this. They’ve built their programs to play deep into December. They need everybody focused. But like with game plans, they’re going to have to adjust to this, too.
Personally, I think the signing period should be in August as the new dead period begins. Given that the recruitment process for some begins as early as their freshman season, they’re going to have several years of knowledge, attending junior days, taking unofficial visits and visiting with coaches to pretty much know who is in and who is out.
Historically, many recruits have made commitment decisions in the summer before their senior year. They say they want to get this decision behind them and focus on football. So why wait until December if they know?
Regardless, the changes are helpful. The summer dead periods of August and most of July take some of the burden of these players of running to these college camps. They have 10 days to attend them in June. By the time the middle of June rolls around, everybody is pretty much burned out going to camps.
This is their last summer to enjoy camps as we know them in June and July. Everything changes on Aug. 1.
It’s natural for people to be fearful of change. But this change to be embraced. It’s long overdue.