Why Is There an Early Signing Day in College Football Recruiting?

    Early signing day in college football sees recruits finally make their commitments to schools official, and the benefits can be great.

    College football recruiting is a year-round operation, and the early signing day finally makes commitments official between schools and recruits. However, it hasn’t always been in place and was established to allow recruits to solidify their intentions earlier than the usual February window.

    The early signing day now allows recruits and schools to make their relationship official and has several benefits for the recruit and the football program.

    Why Does Early Signing Day Matter?

    College football’s early signing day is in December and allows high school recruits to sign with a college program officially. Traditionally, recruits would have to wait until the national signing period opens in February, but the early window allows recruits to turn verbal agreements into contractually binding ones.

    Recruits sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) with their chosen school during early signing day, which allows them to confirm agreements that before signing the NLI were only verbal.

    Until the early signing day was introduced, schools and recruits could uncommit from each other. Recruits were able to retract their commitments, leaving schools on the hook.

    However, the early signing period was introduced to stop schools from taking advantage of recruits, abandoning their verbal agreements for many reasons, and leaving recruits in limbo.

    This could happen if there were a coaching change at a school and the new staff wanted to go in a new direction, or maybe a better recruit would suddenly become available, causing the school to pursue them over ones they had verbal agreements with.

    The NCAA agreed to an early signing day back in 2017 to give recruits more control and autonomy. By officially signing on early signing day, a school couldn’t back out of the process.

    In essence, the verbal agreements become legally binding written agreements, allowing players to finally lock themselves in and become free of the stress of the recruiting cycle.

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    Recruiting never ends in college football; while recruits are unsigned, anything can change. Until they are officially signed, schools must constantly communicate with recruits to confirm their intentions to commit. Bringing their signing day forward allows teams to move on in their process and reach out to new recruits available in the spring. Meanwhile, the player can put the recruitment process behind them, providing certainty of their future.

    By signing on early signing day, recruits can also enroll in college early. Recruits can join their new college teams during the spring semester, allowing them to start training early and integrate themselves with their new surroundings.

    Some head coaches are even in favor of an early signing period. TCU HC Sonny Dykes told the Houston Chronicle, “I’m in favor of might be a very early signing period, maybe at the end of July or beginning of July, at the end of official visits in June. It makes sense if guys want to go ahead and sign, then let them sign. If there is a coaching change or something happens, then get out of that letter of intent if they want to.”

    “Then, a second signing period in February, like the old signing period. In today’s world, that makes a little more sense.”

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