Rod Carey

Early signing period recruits face tough predicament if college coach takes job elsewhere


Early signing period recruits face tough predicament if college coach takes job elsewhere

Ever since the NCAA decided to allow an early signing period for football (which began with the Class of 2018) most observers would agree that this initiative has been a success on several levels. 

However, a big issue facing this early signing period remains: what happens if a recruit signs an early letter of intent and suddenly finds out that the coaching staff at that same school changes? 

This past weekend, NIU saw head coach Rod Carey leave DeKalb for a long-term contract with Temple. Carey leaves after six seasons at the helm of the Huskies program. He tallied a 52-30 record, two Mid-American Conference titles, four MAC West titles and six bowl game appearances. 

Carey also leaves NIU after the Huskies inked 16 recruits in December for its Class of 2019 recruiting class. So in theory, they wrapped up their ’19 recruiting class efforts in December. I expect more than a few current NIU assistant coaches to also depart DeKalb for Temple soon. But what about the kids who are already signed to NIU? The short answer: tough luck, kid. 

Once a recruit is signed to a Letter of Intent, the only way that LOI is broken is if the school decides to allow the recruit a release. Those same recruits can decide to transfer to another school, but would be required to sit out a year, per NCAA transfer rules. Some talk of a potential wavier that would allow recruits to transfer after a head coaching change has been discussed. However, nothing has yet to develop and nothing seems to be on the short-term horizon. 

Schools like NIU that are able to sign a large majority of their recruits early in December undoubtedly benefit. Whoever is eventually named the new head coach at NIU will already have his 2019 recruiting class on board. The new NIU head coach can take his time in lining up a staff and not need to scramble to just fill up some recruiting needs. 

But are the recruits really left holding the short straw? 

"I talked to several of the kids who have been impacted by coaching changes at both the (recently held) All-American Bowl and the Under Armour game," said's National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell. "Not one kid said they would have signed anywhere else even after seeing those coaches move on to other schools."

One area that the early signing period has had a major impact is kids drawing more and more pressure from college coaches to sign early. 

"Most coaches said that if I didn't sign early that they would pull the scholarship offer," said one recent Class of 2019 commitment. "I would have loved to have made a few more visits, but after I gave them my verbal (commitment) if I even mentioned getting offers from other schools they told me that they would pull the offer.

"It wasn't worth the risk of losing that opportunity so I signed early."

While the early signing period has been effective for the schools, the jury is still very much out for the recruits and the families.

NIU adds more Chicago flavor with Class of 2019 standouts

USA Today

NIU adds more Chicago flavor with Class of 2019 standouts

The Bears weren’t the only area football team to have a successful weekend bringing in talent.

Northern Illinois University and head coach Rod Carey saw a big spike over the weekend in the Huskies’ Class of 2019 in-state recruiting efforts. 

NIU was able to add four new verbal commitments this past weekend in Solorio junior wide receiver Messiah Travis (5-foot-10, 170 pounds), Raby junior defensive back Romel Goston (6-foot-1, 170 pounds), Buffalo Grove junior tight end Tom Trieb (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) and Kenwood junior cornerback Mark Aitken (5-foot-9, 175 pounds). 

"I like a lot of what NIU has to offer," Messiah said. "Getting to play and go to school close to home at NIU was really important to me. I'm really close with my family. It will allow my mom and my dad to come and see me play in college. NIU also recruited me really hard right out of the gates and NIU was my first offer. NIU really made me feel wanted and like I was needed there."

NIU was able to find early recruiting success a year ago when Carey and his staff decided to extend verbal scholarship offers much earlier in the recruiting process compared to previous years. 

Three of the latest Chicagoland pledges (Messiah Travis, Romel Goston and Mark Aitken) play together on the HEROH 7-on-7 team based on the South Side. Those connections played a big part in Aitken's decision process. 

"We have a really strong connection both mentally and emotionally," according to Aitken. "I feel like we can just make each other better at NIU and also keep each other on the right track. It was definitely a part of my decision to commit to NIU."

NIU now has five known verbal commitments in the Class of 2019. That list includes Detroit’s Martin Luther King High School junior wide receiver Jalen McGaughy (6-foot-3, 175 pounds).

This will mark the sixth full season for Carey leading the Huskies. He owns a 44-24 record during his time in DeKalb with five bowl appearances.

Recruiting News and Notes: Justin Hall commits to NIU


Recruiting News and Notes: Justin Hall commits to NIU

Justin Hall (ATH), Homewood-Flossmoor

Northern Illinois University landed its ninth in-state verbal commitment when Homewood-Flossmoor senior athlete Justin Hall (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) decided to stay closer to home and commit to the Huskies.

"I just really interacted well with the coaches as well as the players at NIU," Hall said. "It's really a family feeling in the football program at NIU and I just always have felt comfortable there. I was looking to also stay closer to home and it all just came together for me at NIU. I can stay closer to home and play for a team that has had a lot of success. NIU also offers a good education and it just feels like the best fit for me so I committed."

Hall, who was recruited by NIU head coach Rod Carey as a defensive back, can also return kicks and punts and plans to contribute to the Huskies return teams. Hall joins his Homewood-Flossmoor teammate in defensive linemen Jeff Griffin, Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan, Decatur MacArthur wide receiver Amir Brummett, Phillips defensive tackle Queneil Morrison, Palatine outside linebacker Cortez Hogans, Simeon wide receiver Leon Payne, Rich Central athlete Jyran Mitchell and Maine South running back Fotis Kokosioulis in the NIU in-state Class of 2018. 

Brett Groves (OT), Cary-Grove

Cary-Grove senior offensive tackle Brett Groves (6-foot-5, 305 pounds) decided last week to end his recruiting process and give Southern Illinois head coach Nick Hill his verbal commitment.

"It was ready to make my decision so I called up coach Hill and gave SIU my verbal commitment," Groves aid. "I never had any set date to make my decision but with the start of practices I wanted to make my decision so I can focus on my team and my season."

Groves, who also was drawing recruiting looks from FBS schools such as Iowa State and NIU, decided he didn't want to pass up his opportunity at Southern Illinois.

"SIU just has a lot to offer. I really get a long great with the coach. Both coach Hill and coach (Trevor) Olson are good people and also very good coaches. I like the direction that the football program is headed. SIU also has a great looking campus and I just really like the surrounding area. SIU is a bit of a smaller school but still has that bigger school feel. I was also impressed with the facilities at SIU along with the academic support for athletes. I know that I'll get a good education at SIU. It's just the best for me."

Josh Shodipo (DB), Oswego

Oswego senior defensive back Josh Shodipo (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) also decided to make his college decision before the opening of team practice and give Western Illinois University his verbal commitment.

"My recent visit was a big reason why I decided to commit to WIU," Shodipo said. "WIU is a good school and I already know some people going to school there. I really like the coaches at WIU along with the players. I'm also a good fit into the WIU defense. They recruited me as a corner back but the coaches also feel I could also play some safety for them. The visit to WIU just made me feel really comfortable with the school along with the coaches and the team. WIU feels like home to me."

Jayleen Fitzpatrick (LB), Glenbard North

No one was as happy to see the official start of IHSA football practices last Monday than Glenbard North senior linebacker Jayleen Fitzpatrick (6-foot-0, 205 pounds). Fitzpatrick, who suffered an 2016 early season-ending injury, is back and 100 percent ready to go.

"I am so ready to go," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm like overly excited for the season. It's been a lot of work and rehab to get back but now I'm back."

Fitzpatrick, who will be one of the leaders for the Panthers defense this fall, will draw several college coaches attention and serious looks at his early senior year game video.

"This month I've been in touch with a lot of different schools and they all want to know when I was cleared and back with the team. I've been talking to some DII schools like Grand Valley State and the University of Indianapolis, plus some smaller schools like UW Whitewater. They all want to see some of my senior tape."