Feelings will be hurt on all sides this week, but at least coaches and players will know where everyone stands with a chance to regroup and make alternate plans for February. The coaches don’t like the new system because it forces them to try to secure a signing class while also preparing for bowl games and playoff games. They also don’t like it because it will force them in some cases to prove that an offer is real and not simply code for “we’ll take this defensive end if the defensive end we really want doesn’t flip to us from our rival.” Players who chose their schools long ago and simply want to be done with the recruiting process—this is most players, by the way—will love being able to sign and enjoy the remainder of the holiday season with the knowledge that their spots are secure. Players who enjoy being courted incessantly by schools may want to stretch their recruitments into February, but if they’ve already committed somewhere, they run the risk of having an offer pulled if they don’t sign with the school to which they proffered said commitment. And that makes perfect sense. If you claim you’re committed and you don’t sign the NLI the school sends you, are you really committed? Of course not. The coaching staff probably should pull the offer in that case.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said last week he will evaluate any such situations on a “case-by-case” basis. This is wise. Some players might be good enough to be worth waiting for until February. Others might be easily replaced by another player who wants to sign right now. Players, meanwhile, will need to evaluate their situations carefully before they turn down a bird in the hand. A player with 40 Power 5 offers can afford to prolong the recruiting process. He has leverage. A player with two Power 5 offers probably is better off signing now. The key for recruits and for coaches is to be brutally honest with themselves about where they or their programs stand in the pecking order. Any overestimation of one’s place in the world could result in a lost scholarship or a lost player.
There are plenty of other situations that coaches and administrators are watching closely this week because no one knows exactly how the process will play out.
Andy doesn’t mention it specifically, but I think one of those situations would be a recruit’s shaky academics. If I’m not mistaken, if you let a player sign this week, but he winds up not qualifying, he still counts against your numbers. If that’s right, I can’t imagine there’s a coach out there facing that who wouldn’t tell a kid who wants to sign in December his decision would have to be postponed until February.
So, with all that in mind, be ready to match Jeff Sentell’s list of those whom he projects to sign this week against the group that officially puts pen to paper.
UGA’s commits who plan to sign this week
(ratings from the 247Sports Composite)
- Jake Camarda/Norcross, Ga./3-star/nation’s No. 8 kicker
- Owen Condon/Oklahoma City,/3-star/nation’s No. 37 offensive tackle/No. 476 overall
- James Cook/Miami/4-star/Nation’s no. 3 running back/No. 31 overall
- Jordan Davis/Charlotte, N.C./3-star/nation’s No. 28 defensive tackle/No. 403 overall
- Warren Ericson/Suwanee, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 5 center/No. 267 overall
- Justin Fields/Kennesaw, Ga./5-star/nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback/No. 2 overall
- John FitzPatrick/Atlanta/4-star/nation’s No. 16 tight end/No. 342 overall
- Trey Hill/Warner Robins, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 2 offensive guard/No. 38 overall
- Kearis Jackson/Fort Valley, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 22 wide receiver/No. 117 overall
- Azeez Ojulari/Marietta, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 8 weakside defensive end/No. 133 overall
- Chris Smith II/Atlanta/4-star/nation’s No. 30 cornerback/No. 295 overall
- Zamir White/Laurinburg, N.C./5-star/nation’s No. 1 running back/No. 6 overall
- Devonte Wyatt/Decatur, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle (JUCO)/No. 7 overall (JUCO)
Bottom line so far: 13 of Georgia’s 18 current commits.
He mentions a few others straddling the fence. Given Kirby’s mastery of roster management, you’d have to think the group allowed to sign this week will say volumes about how the rest of Georgia’s 2018 class will shape up.