With the new Early Signing Period kicking in from December 20th to December 22nd, what matters? What do you really need to know or care about?
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WHAT?! A real, live, National Signing Day? In December?! But … but … there are bowl games happening.
The sport of college football is actually being played this week, and it’s all going to be engulfed by the hype and hope that comes with a slew of adults fawning all over a slew of high school kids.
Yes, the recruiting hype is stupid considering all the attention paid to this and how little all of these rankings end up mattering in the real world – especially considering a walk-on just won the Heisman – but … okay, it does matter.
The more players you get who have big-time athletic upside, the more chances you have at finding special stars, the more you can do with these players, and on and on and on.
For those who care about the big names and where they’re going, here you are …
But those are names. Some of them will matter in your college football world. Most of them won’t. Here’s what this Early Signing Period is all about. First of all …
No one has the first (bleep)ing clue how this is going to fly
Someone’s going to figure out how to take advantage of this thing.
Will this early period make it easier on everyone and take the pressure off, or will it just be a pain in the butt since there isn’t as much time as everyone might like to go recruit the guys they want and need?
A few crafty coaches and staffs will have found some way to use the new system to load up on guys they might not have been able to lock down until February, and other coaches will go batspit crazy after missing out on key targets they thought they had solid.
Even if you don’t care about recruiting, this will be interesting theater.
Cui Bono? … The Prospects
No, that’s not the name of some silky-smooth receiver out of San Diego who runs a 4.29 – who benefits?
How does this help the players?
If you thought the recruiting was intense before, just wait until Jim Bob Booster and his crew dive into the superstars left to be had who don’t sign during this period.
If you’re one of those prospect types who believes you deserve, you know, a little something extra, why would you possibly sign on now, when you’re going to be in even greater demand after around half of the top 100-to-200 prospects sign on? But that’s the cynical view, of course.
This benefits the prospect who just wants this to all be done. If you’re a top player, everyone’s trying to flip you – and it’s exhausting. Sign now, get it done, enjoy the next few months.
However, and here’s the biggest problem for the players – what if they sign on and the head coach, position coach, or main recruiter leaves? That player is totally screwed.
Or, what happens if you’re Johnny Three-Star Running Back and you sign, and then come February, that teams signs five more running back prospects including a few bigger names?
Cui Bono? … The Coaches
No, that’s not Latin for The Process.
Who benefits among the coaches? For the most part, the coaches always complain about recruiting in one way or another, and then they go out and do all the things they complain about.
What they don’t seem to like – at least so far – is the uncertainty. As long as everyone knows the rules – as messed up as they might be – and what they’re dealing with, fine.
It’s that possibility that some coach will figure out something another coach hasn’t that’s the concern. And for the coaches who have to deal with this and gameplan for their respective bowl games, this comes at a miserable time.
However, let’s say a team needs linebackers to be ready to rumble in 2020. Now, a coaching staff will know where it stands going into February if it got the linebacker prospects they wanted. Now, if they got a few superstars at certain positions, they don’t need to pay as much attention to those spots.
Also, they don’t have to worry as much about the vultures. The verbal commitment means about as much as a ten-year coaching contract – it’s a theory. This is a plus for coaches who don’t have to waste energy constantly re-recruiting their verbals.
What happens to the normal National Signing Day?
The big one is still around – but it’ll be diminished. February 7th, 2018 will still matter, and now the hype will be different. Now, with a slew of stars already signed on, the four-and-five-star guys still available will be rock stars for the next few months.
This Early Signing Period goes from December 20th to the 22nd, and to January 15th for JUCO transfers.
Okay, that’s super. But what do you, Joe College Football Fan, have to look for?
The only thing you’re going to really care about – if you’re not a die-hard recruiting lover – is what positions your team went after early.
You’ll hear a lot of names, and you’ll hear how all the big boys did a great job – whatever. Focus on bulk positions more than individuals. Where is your team heavy? That will dictate what it does next going into February.
What happens if (insert team here) has a “great day” and sign lots and lots of players with lots and lots of stars next to their names?
Okay, great. That just means it’ll be playing with house money and go for broke on more big guns. Get a great early recruiting class, and the selling point is easy.
“Look at who we signed – don’t you want to play with this group over the next few years?”
Prospects want to be a part of a winner, and the teams who got the big hauls now will look a whole lot more attractive.
What happens if (insert team here) has a “bad day” and doesn’t sign lots and lots of players with lots and lots of stars next to their names?
It’s not a plus, but the coaches and staff will have a handle on what they need to do next and where they need to focus. The spin and pitch will go something like this.
“(Insert school here) just signed on two guys at (insert position here). You come here, and and you’re our guy.”
Or, even better …
“We didn’t want (insert player who signed on elsewhere here) as much as we want you. We didn’t want to take the chance on losing you by signing him.”
If you’re a fan of a top 15 program that doesn’t have a great December, don’t worry. One big bowl performance will change the recruiting sell.
Who are the players and signees you really need to care about?
QB Justin Fields: He’s going to sign with Georgia, but after verbally committing, everyone still wanted to dance with Kirby Smart’s date.
CB Patrick Surtain: His dad was an NFL star, and now he’s going to be a big name over the next few months. He’s not expected to sign early, but fans of LSU, Alabama, Miami, Clemson and Florida State will be hoping for a surprise.
OG Jamaree Salyer: The best interior line prospect, the Atlanta native signed with Georgia – but Clemson, Florida and Florida State were right there. If he’s not the biggest early signee, it’ll be …
DE Micah Parsons: A big-time pass rushing prospect out of Pennsylvania, this is a big one for James Franklin and Penn State. Georgia and Ohio State didn’t give up, but he was a massive get for the Nittany Lions.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown: The scouting is a bit mixed on him. Everyone likes him, but depending on who you believe, he’s either an NFL-star just passing through college, or he’s simply a very, very good prospect. He’s the brother of Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown, but UCLA is in the picture now with Chip Kelly, and USC is likely neck-and-neck with the Irish.