UGA football recruiting: How will the early signing period affect the incoming class?
Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. With this edition, we take a look at the potential changes expected with the Dec. 20-22 signing period that the NCAA has implemented.
The early signing period is coming.
It will take place from Dec. 20-22 and will give the student-athletes who are ready to sign an exit off the freeway during the busy recruiting month of January.
Athletes who sign then won’t have to wait until February to make their commitments official. That means they can officially end their recruitment by signing that National Letter of Intent, also putting a stop to any second thoughts that might creep in.
Jamaree Salyer, a 5-star offensive lineman, told DawgNation recently that he was looking closely at this option. He has yet to make a commitment and does not plan to during his senior football season, he said.
It will be very interesting to see how committed recruits treat the early period. Will they have to sign? Will it send a bad sign to their schools if they do not?
A lot of questions would mushroom up from that point: What are they waiting for? Does the term “committed” really apply anymore?
The early signing period offers a lot of advantages for the school. Let’s say a school intends to sign 24 players this year. That program also has 17 commitments at the time the early signing period window opens.
If the school can sign all 17 of the commits, then coaches only have to recruit seven more targets for the stretch run until National Signing Day in February. And once a school has all of the players it wants at, say, tight end, then the board closes early at that position.
In short, schools will look to sign as many of their committed prospects and elite targets during the early signing period. When they do, that means one less fish to have to reel in during January. It will allow the college recruiting staff to be much more efficient.
High school coaches, however, have concerns about the new wrinkle to the calendar. The early signing period could put key visits to schools by recruits on a collision course with preparation for state championship games. This will no doubt affect the ability of their future Saturday players to focus on the respective playoffs for their state associations.
At best, it will be a distraction. No coach wants that.
Plugged-in parents weigh in
I’ve had a series of conversations with parents who take the matter of recruiting very seriously. They are the ones who take their kids to those early prospect camps. They are the ones making rounds of unofficial visits during their children’s sophomore year.
Here’s what they told me:
- They are worried about their kids not being ready to sign in December.
- Will the school they are committed to allow them to wait?
- What happens to that position coach they love during the January hiring season?
The discussions were held informally, but I asked parents if I could share their thoughts in this area. They said there needs to be more dialogue among recruits and their peers and their families about the new signing period.
The early enrollees are easier. Their world changes very little. That’s when they were planning to sign and get all their school admissions paperwork in order anyway under the old recruiting calendar.
“I think if all is positive he will sign in December,” one parent of a 4-star recruit said. “But if there are any questions in my mind I don’t care what they say. He will be waiting.”
What happens if that school weighs in that coaches really would rather he sign to secure his spot in their class?
“I guess we’ll be playing poker,” one parent said.
Parents said they see the school’s perspective here, but they do expect some amount of pressure to be applied.
My view here is that this matter will lead to fewer surprises. If a recruit is uneasy, then the school will be able to find out and address exactly why more than a month earlier than they used to.
The football player’s perspective
Elite defensive back Tyreke Johnson has a wide range of opinions on college football and college football recruiting. Most of them are well-thought out and have been formed by talking with a lot of friends and former teammates who are now at the college level.
He has an idea about the early signing period, too. It won’t affect him, though. He will be an early enrollee, even though he has not yet committed to a school.
But he has a theory about how it might affect some of his peers in 2018. Johnson (Trinity Christian Academy/Jacksonville, Fla.) said he hopes schools will not pressure their commits to sign that document early.
“I think that is a very unprofessional way to handle business,” Johnson said. “A lot of kids commit to schools off of emotion. They could be committed off of that emotion and a school could be like, ‘You know what? We want to sign all of our recruits now so we have everything laid out for you when you get here.’ They get told a lot of sweet nothings to hype their head up.”
Johnson said trust is the foundation of the recruiting relationship. This should now work both ways.
“I think the school should trust the kid and the player,” he said. “If they want to take it to February, then they should let him. That is if they truly have that player’s best intentions at heart. If they truly care about the kid as a person and his development as a player, they will let them take that time. These players only get to do this once. They should do it at his pace and let him go all the way to February.”
What do these college teams think?
247Sports published some good work recently with a member of the Auburn football staff. It is well-known how Tigers coach Guz Malzahn feels about this latest wave of legislation. In short, he was not on the bus with the early signing period.
According to Porter, the staff plans to seek to lock up all its committed recruits at that time but also allow players the flexibility to follow the old recruiting model, too.
If they do not sign early, Porter told 247Sports, it won’t create any “hard feelings” with the staff as long as there is a clear line of communication why that extra time is needed.
“You just got to sit down and make sure you have (a) heart-to-heart talk and have a real understanding of why and respect that as well as a coach because at the end of the day it’s their moment,” Porter told 247Sports. “They have a right to feel good about the way they do it.”
Everyone is talking about this Elijah Moore fella
Elijah Moore, a 4-star wide receiver from Florida, has trending hard to Georgia for the last two weeks.
Moore, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound prospect from national power St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, told reporters at a Miami Dolphins high school football media day event last week that he was down to Georgia and Ole Miss and could make his decision later this month.
He rates as the nation’s No. 189 overall prospect for this cycle and is slotted as the No. 38 receiver for 2018.
It appears that Moore is the new hot recruit for UGA in 2018. In-statee Tucker High School receiver Josh Vann is very talented and always has been a priority for the Bulldogs.
But Vann continues to lean toward South Carolina. He rates as the nation’s No. 34 receiver prospect and at No. 169 overall.
This seems like a case of two players now being targeted for one additional receiver spot in the 2018 UGA class. Moore has been made a priority because Vann is pretty hard to get a read on.
Vann has a Georgia commitment by 5-star QB Justin Fields would cinch his decision to go to UGA but it seems like those two do not have parallel recruiting timelines.
Georgia, given the state of things regarding both programs, should win that face off with the Rebels for Moore.
Kearis Jackson, the nation’s No. 20 WR, is scheduled to announce his decision on Saturday. The Peach County standout has been the No. 1 target for this class at receiver for an extended period of time.
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