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Nation, World Sports

After early period, signing day was anticlimactic this year

| Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, 8:54 p.m.
Andrew Chatfield, center, announces he's signing with the University of Florida on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla.
Andrew Chatfield, center, announces he's signing with the University of Florida on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Plantation, Fla.

The first year with an early signing period transformed the recruiting landscape and diminished the importance of the first Wednesday of February, a day that had become a virtual holiday in some college football hotbeds.

ESPN recruiting director Tom Luginbill said more than 2,000 players already had signed letters of intent by December, a figure that makes up more than 70 percent of the 2,700-2,800 prospects who annually sign with a Football Bowl Subdivision program.

Were this year's seniors simply intrigued by the novelty of an early signing period, or was this a sign of things to come? That's the question coaches are asking as they adjust their recruiting approaches to the new calendar.

“I really believe that eventually this thing is going to move to where you won't have the second signing day,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said.

“It'll just be one signing day in December, and then it'll be like an open market on the back end. We'll see. The NCAA and all those presidents will vote on how we're going to do it, but I think it's going to end up going that way.”

In the first year with an early signing period, about three-quarters of the nation's top 250 prospects in the 247Sports Composite opted to finalize their college decisions in December.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley acknowledged this made the traditional February signing day “anticlimactic,” but it also enabled him to spend January focusing on the future rather than worrying about whether all the Sooners' senior prospects would stay true to their commitments.

“It was a chance to go see these 2019, 2020 and even 2021 recruits,” Riley said. “It's a chance to evaluate more guys. You feel like you are using your time in a much more efficient way.”

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said he already has considered ways to adjust his recruiting approach based on the new calendar.

He wants to make sure he still has enough scholarships available for the prospects who are waiting until February.

“We will be more selective in the beginning of the recruiting period next year,” Orgeron said. “We will be more selective with our scholarships at that time. We will fill specific needs then.”

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