Are you ready for Signing Day? Already?
Members of the Class of 2018 will have their first opportunity to early sign a National Letter of Intent from Dec. 20-22 as the NCAA has allowed a first-ever early signing period in football.
What can we expect in a few weeks for all D-1 level recruits, college teams and the recruiting merry go round?
1. Expect a lot of the top names in Illinois and the Midwest to sign on the first day. Illinois (and the upper-Midwest in general) has always been the land of the early verbal commitment. Now, those same early decision makers can end the recruiting process before the holiday season. When looking at the EDGYTIM.com Class of 2018 Top 70 preseason recruit rankings, I expect no more than a dozen of those names to go unsigned in that early LOI period. And out of those names, at least half will not sign because of academic issues.
2. The upper Midwest schools love this new early signing period—and expect them to be very active. Major college programs here in Illinois and also in the surrounding states will undoubtedly benefit the most by an early signing day. Why? Kids in these recruiting areas, unlike the south, have traditionally wrapped up recruiting well before the traditional National Letter of Intent Signing Day (held the first Wednesday every February). The sooner colleges can fill their recruiting class the sooner its recruits are effectively "off the market" by the binding LOI. Also, having potential signees make official visits to less tropical locales (think Champaign, Evanston and DeKalb) in mid-to-late January isn't exactly a recruiting advantage for Midwest-based colleges.
3. Expect even more drama starting on Dec. 23. Once the smoke clears from the early signing period, the athletes who have not yet signed will start an even-more serious round of heavy recruiting in January. The dash to the next signing day period (Feb. 7) has the potential top be even more drama-filled for many of the top names than in years past. The state's top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2018 is Carterville four star-ranked tight end Luke Ford (6-foot-7, 250 pounds), who is also the top-ranked tight end in the nation according to Rivals.com. Ford, whose top three schools include Alabama, Auburn and Georgia, is planning to announce his college decision on Jan. 6 at the US Army All American Bowl game. Once the early signing period is completed — and if any other college doesn't sign a tight end or two as they expected — I fully expect even more schools to make a harder push to land Ford.
4. Recruits need to sign at their own risk. The bottom line is once a recruit signs the National Letter of Intent, regardless of any potential future coaching changes, once you are signed — you are signed. The biggest complaint about the early signing period is that once the NLOI is signed, it's a done deal regardless of any potential staff shakeups. I fully expect kids to sign to a school that will have a coaching change in some capacity. And I also fully expect to hear even more outcry from parents, recruits and high school coaches.