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What Does The New Early Signing Period Mean For Michigan?

How will this new early signing period affect Michigan and how will it change recruiting?

High School Football: National Signing Day-Aubrey Soloman Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

‘Tis The Season For Fax Machines To Get More Attention

An NCAA panel reviewed the early signing period idea last month, but now it’s official. On Monday, the Collegiate Commissioners Association gave their final approval on this new period giving football recruits to sign before February.

The 2018 recruiting class will now have the option to wait until National Signing Day or sign their letter of intent between December 20-22. The 72 hour period is just before the big bowls begin when schools are on winter break, but is also when high school athletes can graduate early and enroll in college before the first Wednesday in February. Media and fans that follow recruiting very close will now have another period to follow their favorite team, and may replace some of the excitement that happens on National Signing Day.

What Does This Mean for Michigan?

Michigan had a program record 11 early enrollees in the 2017 recruiting class. Those 11 guys were already enrolled in classes, on campus, and attended the ‘Signing Of The Stars’ event. This new signing period change makes perfect sense for anyone in a similar position who likes to wrap up much of their recruiting as early as possible.

And Harbaugh loves to hit recruiting early. He recruits guys who are mentally prepared, he puts in more work scouting players than most other programs, and he’s revolutionized satellite camps as a way to get out there and focus on the players. With an early signing period like this, it moves the calendar forward for everybody, and other programs may see the light and try to mimic what’s made Michigan successful.

But for Michigan itself, their recruiting process is unlikely to experience much change. They were already ready to handle this new approach.

How Will The Recruiting Game Change?

This may take a year to cycle through for us to determine if it makes a huge impact. In January 2016 however, there were 189 decommitments due to late offers made from schools who were successfully able to flip recruits. That will obviously go down, although there may be some controversy if players decide they want out after a coach is fired in January.

The top 100 players may not see much impact from this - although this will allow the lower rated players to lock in a spot in their recruiting class, and in turn it could increase focus and attention on those remaining undecided players later in the cycle (as if they weren’t already hyped enough).

Some schools may use their early signing day as a statement to recruits that they’re still chasing, similar to how Les Miles recruited no running backs in the cycle before Leonard Fournette.

The Group of 5 programs have to be the most excited about this new period, knowing that their players can sign and be off the board for Power 5 teams to swoop in after bowl season to sell their program and try to flip them.

But at the end of the day, players still have the right to wait until February even if they’re committed, so this will probably mostly benefit players who want to lock in their spot and protect their place at a university.

We will learn how it all goes, but overall this gives players more options and moves the calendar forward for top recruits and administration considering a coaching change. It also forces coaches to lay more of their cards on the table for recruits to see.

More Early Enrollees?

We may also see a trend with more recruits early enrolling, like we did with Michigan’s 2017 class. That would mean more underclassmen jumping into starting roles and developing quicker into potential NFL players. This is part of a larger trend, with personal coaches and more attention than ever on high school football, of players having to grow up younger and younger and joining the NFL earlier and earlier.


Do you think it’s a good move to add this early signing period?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Of course. I think it is good for the majority of players and makes recruiting more exciting
    (391 votes)
  • 7%
    Yes, it’s a good move for the majority of players, but really hurts recruiting
    (39 votes)
  • 9%
    Yes it’s a good move for recruiting, but not a good move for players
    (51 votes)
  • 9%
    Not at all, this kind of ruins the recruiting cycle and doesn’t help anybody
    (50 votes)
531 votes total Vote Now