How much of an impact with the new early signing period have? Well, consider this:
In the 2016 class, from Dec. 20 through the month of January before signing day, 224 FBS recruits either decommitted or flipped their commitments to other schools. In the 2017 class, during the same time period, 238 prospects changed their commitment status.
Now, obviously, the new rules don’t stop that from continuing to happen. Reading between the lines in the linked article, here’s a guess as to what’s coming.
- There will be a significant number of recruits who will sign in December. (“I spoke to 76 recruits ranked in the top 150 of the ESPN 300 rankings, and 44 said they had plans to sign in December.”)
- That group will be largely comprised of kids who have already committed to a school. (“Of the five-stars who said they are planning on enrolling early, all but Marshall are currently committed.”)
- Like it or not, the numbers suggest that some kids who want to sign in December won’t be allowed to sign early. (“When you’ve got one program, on average, making 230 offers but only able to sign 25 players, there’s a natural amount of friction — a type of tension that exists in that system.”)
- There will be those recruits who simply don’t want to make a decision until the last minute (“But then again, there are some recruits who actually don’t know where they’re going, which is why they wouldn’t sign early. Most know where they’re going, but want all the recruiting hype and fun, so they play around with it…”), either due to uncertainty or because they enjoy playing the recruiting game.
- To the extent that coaches are unhappy about the new rules, it’s largely because they sense a certain loss of control. Most of that isn’t about the top kids, as the above numbers hint at, but, instead, for recruits at the margins — late bloomers, for example. But it’s more likely related to how they have to manage the numbers two months earlier than they’ve been used to. It’s one thing to cut a kid loose very late in the process because the slot you’ve held open was filled at the end by someone higher on your board. It’s another to try to talk that kid into hanging around for two months on a maybe when he’s got a hard offer from another school in his hand. We’ll soon see who’s really good at that kind of sales work.
Bottom line? Expect more grumbling from head coaches.