It looks like the early bird will get the worm again...at least from the NCAA early signing day perspective.
Wednesday is the second early signing period for NCAA football and if the first such session is any indication, I fully expect even more recruits to secure their college choices. Last year, according to Rivals.com, nearly 75 percent of all FBS recruits used the December early signing period to finalize their college decisions, which caught several observers and experts somewhat by surprise.
So what impact could the second December early signing day have on the Class of 2019?
"I can see even more FBS level recruits signing early," according to Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Expert Josh Helmholdt. "I wouldn't be shocked to see nearly 80 percent or even as high as 85 percent sign on Wednesday. The trend is now to sign early and while it was higher in the North and East last year, now it looks like it will also increase this year across the country."
So why the surge in early signings? Several reasons come to mind, including players and families growing tired of the constant calls and texts along with the nonstop distractions in school. Yet ask various high school recruits and coaches and they will tell you a few specific reasons for the early rush to sign a Letter of Intent.
"I would have loved to go out and make a few more visits," one in-demand Power 5 recruit told me late last week. "I had 3-4 schools that I really liked but all of the schools recruiting me said that I needed to commit and sign in December otherwise they would move on. I only made two official visits and I would have liked to take a few more. Everyone is afraid to lose offers so everyone is making quicker decisions. I'm happy with my decision but I also didn't get to see too many other schools."
"I still don't like it," Bolingbrook head coach John Ivlow said.
Ivlow, who is planning to have four recruits sign Letters of Intent on Wednesday saw firsthand the impact of the new early signing period.
"We talked last year about the early signing period and everything we talked about as negatives came true," Ivlow said. "The early signing day forces kids to make a quicker decision. The college coaches want a quick decision otherwise the schools take that as not being loyal. I had a player last year (I'Shawn Stewart) who waited and saw a lot of offers go away. He eventually ended up fine (Oregon State) but more and more kids are losing offers and being rushed into a decision. It's also a bigger and bigger gamble to wait until February to sign."
While a large majority of the FBS-level names are expected to sign Letters of Intent on Wednesday, FCS-level schools, including in-state programs such as Illinois State, Western Illinois, Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois are expected to sign roughly 50-60 percent of its signing class on Wednesday. The D-2 level (and below) schools will continue their recruiting efforts until the traditional February 6th 2019 Letter of Intent signing period.
Bears fans are FEELIN' themselves right now. It is a good time to be them.
For instance: last night on Twitter, Steven, our story's protagonist, posted this on Twitter:
So,— Bear Fan In Madison (@Steven_Thelen) December 18, 2018
I got my girlfriends dad the #Packers golf bag he wanted for Christmas. I printed this photo, wrote him a note, and put it inside of a pocket for him to find in the spring.😂
What do you guys think?#DaBears 🐻⬇️ pic.twitter.com/69OkrBEUKC
This is what type of confidence this Bears team in instilling in their fans. They are so good that they've got fans pranking their girlfriend's dad's new Christmas golf gear.
This dad is now going to be out on the course for the first time in a few months, the Packers dud of a season finally behind him, only to go in for a ball marker and see this.
6/10 prank. 9/10 execution. Good luck to you, Steven.