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The Daily News of Los Angeles
National Signing Day lost some of its luster Monday as the Collegiate Commissioners Association approved an early signing period for Division I football.
Recruits as soon as the 2018 class can choose to sign during a 72-hour window in December instead of waiting for the traditional signing period that begins on the first Wednesday of February, which remains intact. The additional choice takes some of the guess work out of recruiting for coaches while allowing prospects some security by locking down a scholarship.
"I'm all for it," UCLA linebackers coach Scott White said. "I love it. I think it's a great deal for the kids that want to get it done."
December is a hectic period as college coaches are traveling for home visits, hosting official visits and making their final recruiting pitches as prospects begin to evaluate their options. For many teams, it also coincides with bowl game prep. White, Scout.com's Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year in 2016, said the early signing period will help coaches better focus their recruiting resources during a chaotic time instead of having to continuously circle back to solid commitments.
Allowing recruits to lock in their positions limits the last-minute drama that often surrounds signing day hype in February, but might hinder coaching staffs who excel in the 11th hour.
While building its 2017 class that was ranked fifth in the country and first in the conference by Scout.com, USC flipped two recruits in the final weeks before signing day. The Trojans have a history of closing recruiting cycles well as they added six previously uncommitted players to their recruiting class on National Signing Day this February and six in 2016.
In its 18-man 2017 recruiting class, UCLA flipped two commits from other Pac-12 schools during the final two weeks before National Signing Day.
Recruits who use the early signing period would still be bound to a school in the event of a coaching change. Those who take additional time and wait until February to sign might be left on the outside looking in as their scholarship could already be gone.
"It's on the coaches," White said of the potential drawbacks for recruits with the early signing period. "They need to take the onus to be straight up with these kids."
The new period for the 2018 class is Dec. 20-22 and coincides with the first three days of the junior college transfer signing period. The NCAA Division I Council already approved the change in April.
UCLA has nine commitments so far for the 2018 class who could consider using the early signing period. Safety Cam'ron Jones, a four-star recruit from Mansfield High in Texas, verbally pledged to the Bruins on April 16 and plans to take advantage of the new opportunity.
"I'm excited to see the new signing day in December to let UCLA know I'm 1000 percent committed," Jones said in a direct Twitter message.
USC has six commitments now, including pledges from Long Beach Poly quarterback Matt Corral, Narbonne linebacker Raymond Scott and Oaks Christian defensive end Bo Calvert.
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