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NCAA Approves Early Signing Period

Football recruits can officially sign with their team of choice a month and a half earlier than they could before.

NCAA Football: Penn State Blue-White Game Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, college sports’s governing body officially approved a long-gestating idea: the early signing period for incoming recruits.

Last month, the idea was approved by a panel of NCAA officials, but final approval was given yesterday by the Collegiate Commissioners Association. This will go into effect immediately, with class of 2018 recruits able to sign their letter of intent to the school of their choice any time within the 72-hour window between December 20 and December 22 (currently, the signing day for Junior College transfers).

The current signing day, the first Wednesday in February, will still be in effect.

The mothership’s Bud Elliott has a great breakdown of the overall winners and losers for this new rule, but it could mean a lot for Penn State and James Franklin in particular.

Penn State, in prior recruiting years, has had very few surprises the last few months leading up to signing day. This past year’s highly touted recruiting class only had 4 guys commit to Franklin after what would have been the early signing period (linebacker Ellis Brooks, cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, defensive tackle Corey Bolds, and running back Journey Brown); this year, with a class that is currently third in the nation, it would lock in some of these highly-sought-after players.

In terms of benefits for the players themselves, it would mean that no opposing schools would still be allowed to contact – and therefore, recruit – players after they’ve signed their letter of intent. The recruiting process can be heavy for players, even after they commit, with negative recruiting and attempts to change a player’s mind even after it’s been made. This also could help negate the practice of pulling a recruit’s offer with only a few weeks (or days) before signing day, even if he’s been committed for quite some time.

The downside is, of course, that the school tends to benefit more from this arrangement; most college coaching changes don’t happen until after this early signing period, so the incoming recruits would be locked into a school no matter who the staff is. It makes sense, then, that this should be a tool not used all of the time, but rather just for recruits who are 100% sure of where they want to play, and committed to the school, not a head coach (or position coach).

What say you all? Are you happy with this change, or not?