For years the first Wednesday in February has always been seen as a national holiday in the eyes of college football fans. Depending on how the day went and who signed with what school the expectations were either high or tempered for your favorite school. But with the introduction of the early signing period from December 19-21st, many of the nation’s top high school prospects have already signed with their respective schools and the excitement of today has dissipated
As of last night, there were only two unsigned recruits in the 247 Sports Composite Top 30, offensive lineman Darnell Wright from Huntington, WV and running back Jerrion Ealy from Flowood, MS. With both prospects there is still a lot of uncertainty on where they will sign but the overall fan fair associated with this special day is no longer be there.
Depending on the level of recruit and his available scholarships, there are benefits and disadvantages to signing early as well as waiting until the traditional signing day.
Benefits of Signing Early
No more stress
There is so much pressure that comes with being a high school recruit that the casual fan never sees. Whether it is the over-zealous coaches that are flooding your inbox and DM’s, local media requesting interviews or rabid fans harassing your social media pages with rude or inconsiderate requests, your time is never yours. By signing early, you will remove at least two of those factors — even though you’ll never totally rid yourself of trolling fans, and depending on the level of recruitment, you may inherit new haters who are mad you did not choose their school.
Your spot is secure.
If you are 100% solid on your decision to attend XYZ University, why not make it easier for you and your family and sign early to secure your spot in the class. However, if there is some uncertainty on the side of the institution, they can try to discourage you from signing early or not send you the letter of intent (LOI) paperwork at all. If this happens, it’s a dubious sign that the team may be looking for your replacement and it may be in your best interest to look elsewhere.
Risks of Signing early
Unknown circumstances arise
Things happen that cause significant changes to the landscape of your decision. A sick parent, an unexpected pregnancy or a coaching change are all things that could drastically impact the school a recruit decides to play for. There are ways around it, but more often than not the school you sign with will be the one you have to stick with, at least for the first year. It is so important to get proper guidance and an honest assessment from the coaches and current players. Factors that determine the school you choose should be more significant than the sport, but the relationship you build with coaches plays a huge factor and if they suddenly leave after you’ve signed that LOI, you can be in a bind.
Benefits of signing on National Signing Day
Your dream school came calling late
If you’re an elite recruit, you may not have to deal with this but for that middle of the road recruit that thought he found the right school for him, what happens if a more prominent school shows up late in your recruitment? Maybe they missed out on a more prominent recruit, or someone didn’t qualify, either way, an opportunity is there that the recruit didn’t think would be there.
Things get to play out
During the recruitment, there were rumors of coaches leaving or retiring by waiting to sign, you can watch all of this unfold and make an informed decision. This could be tricky because if a coach leaving is the type of change that will force you to look elsewhere, it would be smart to make sure that there is available room at the other schools being considered.
Disadvantages of waiting to sign on National Signing Day
No spot is guaranteed
Recruiting is fluid, and while there is generally a gentleman’s agreement between a committed player and the school, both are always entertaining the advances from a better prospect or school. It seems unethical and wrong for the program to move on so hastily, but it happens and depending on the number of options you have as a recruit you can quickly go from playing at your dream school to scrambling to find a school that has an available scholarship.
No matter if a recruit decides to sign early or wait until national signing day, once that ink dries on the intent letter, the real work starts. Now it’s all on him to decide if the story told will be about a high school has-been or a player that took advantage of the opportunity and became a collegiate star.