New early signing period creates uncertainty for football prospects

2017 National Signing Day Big Board

What is the early signing period?

It is not expected Fields will pull a late flip (although you never know), but that does bring us to one of the possible scenarios we could see play out with the early signing period. How will this early signing period impact programs that have undergone a coaching change?

It is a three-day signing window December 20-22 for high school seniors that coincides with the opening of the junior-college midyear signing period.

Players at last week's Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic admitted that the early signing period was a major topic of conversation, but there was no clear consensus on the best way to handle it.

Can recruits still sign on the first Wednesday in February, per previous years? It's a three-day opportunity for kids to finish up their recruiting. The normal period that opens every February, and the new one that will open later this week. There isn't time to take a break prior to bowl games, instead most coaching staffs will be on the road visiting their class and continuing to recruit up until the final hour.

The early signing period is part of a sweeping legislation package that included the addition of a 10th full-time assistant coach and official visits at the end of a prospect's junior year.

All across the country, "those kinds of harsh discussions are happening right now", Luginbill said, as coaches tell wavering or undecided recruits there are no guarantees a scholarship will still be available by the time the February signing day arrives.

Starting on the morning of December 20, college prospects will have the opportunity to sign their National Letters of Intent and fax (yes, in 2017 they are still using fax machines) them into their new coach's office.

"[The early period] affected me pretty good because it gets everything out of the way for you", Hayes said.

"I asked them if they would let me sign on [early] signing day and they said, 'Yes, ' because they had my spot and they wanted me bad", Hayes said.

There definitely has been a push from programs to get verbally committed players to sign this week ... and keep Alabama from trying to flip them.

The rush for recruits to sign their LOIs earlier has sped up several coaching searches throughout the FBS. The 3-star junior college defensive tackle is committed to Louisville, although he took an official visit to Coral Gables, Fla., in November.

Ideally, that'll allow recruits to get a head start on paring down their short list, while also giving schools a chance to get players on campus earlier.

University presidents mandated the NCAA Division I council target recruiting reform, and the changes settled upon last summer are the result of that work. There is also little time to visit those prospects or re-recruit them if necessary. So who stands to benefit the most - and the least - from the new period? Doing it in August or September would mean recruits signing before their senior years, before either side is ready to commit, in some cases. Will this be a good thing for college football? With most prospects having been on the recruiting trail for the past few years, most have made their decisions and are looking forward to focusing on the next chapter in their football careers.

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