National Signing Day is fast approaching. While diehard college football fans along with various media outlets will be following closely, one thing is for certain: This Signing Day has a much different feel compared to years past.
In case you didn't pay attention (and by the very limited national and regional media coverage and attention, you were not the only one) the Class of 2018 was the first class allowed to ink an early Letter of Intent from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22, well before the traditional first Wednesday in February.
The impact was evident locally as well as nationally. Out of the 250 players from across the country ranked in the Rivals 250, only 67 have yet to sign. In Illinois, 27 of the top 30 recruits and 60 of the top 70 recruits have already signed.
The number of Class of 2018 recruits who took advantage of the early signing period was surprisingly high, with roughly 75 percent of all Division I level recruits signing in December, according to Rivals.com Midwest recruiting expert Josh Helmholdt.
"My numbers show that 75 percent of all three-star ranked or higher names signed early in December," Helmholdt said. "We still have a good handful of high-profile names who will sign on Wednesday. Yet this signing day won't have nearly the same scale or scope of past signing days in February."
With a large majority of the Class of 2018 signed, the month of January has suddenly become one of the hottest recruiting periods for the underclassmen classes. Over the past few weeks we've seen a record number of early scholarships being offered weeks before even the Class of 2018 is officially signed.
"College coaches have more time now to focus on the next class," Helmholdt added. "Coaches are using this evaluation period to get ahead of the next class."