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College Football Early Signing Period Primer

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In case you’ve missed it, college football has a new signing period. Rather than starting in February, recruits will now have a 72-hour window to sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) in December between the end of the regular season and Christmas. This year that early signing period falls between December 20th and 22nd.

From some of SB Nation’s discussions with college coaches, the expectation is that nearly 80% of kids verbally committed are going to sign a LOI this week. And if a recruit does not sign a LOI despite a verbal commitment then they essentially aren’t committed.

So the big thing is how this all affects Clemson. Expect most, and likely all, of Clemson’s commits to sign LOIs this week. Dabo and the staff have always treated a commitment as a much more serious thing than other schools. There shouldn’t be any questions about the current verbal commitments and their desire to attend Clemson.

This will give Clemson a boost coming out of the early signing period because they don’t have play defense on current recruits. Instead they can focus on filling the remaining holes in the class by going after uncommitted recruits.

Of course the downside to the new period is that it makes it a little bit harder for Clemson to replace surprise NFL departures, or even guys that Clemson hones in late on. Think of Travis Etienne this year, he likely doesn’t come to Clemson with the this new early signing period. If Clemson has a lot of surprise departures like after the 2015 season it will also be harder for the Tigers to replace contributors with quality talent.

With all of that out of the way, there is still some uncertainty heading into Wednesday. Clemson currently stands at 12 verbal commitments with 9 “official” scholarships available based on players who will exhaust their eligibility. Based on transfers and early departures this likely means the staff is expecting to have another 5-6 scholarships available for the class of 2018. The good news is that Clemson is a finalist for a few top prospects planning to sign this week.

Cade Mays, the5-star OL out of Tennessee is possibly the most important name on the list. Clemson is considered the leader and he’s expected to announce his commitment at 2:30pm EST on ESPNU this Wednesday. UGA is Clemson’s main competition here but as QT has said Clemson is in lead.

The second big name, announcing at 4:20pm EST on ESPNU Wednesday, is North Carolina native K.J. Henry. A lot has been made about his comments on what he would do if his dad gets hired, but it’ll be a surprise if anyone actually hires his dad before Wednesday. Henry would be an excellent addition to our DL to go with Xavier Thomas.

A newer name to Clemson fans is 4-star RB Lyn-J Dixion out of Georgia. Dixon is expected to announce at 2:00pm EST on Wednesday and sign his LOI. He just finished up an official visit to Oklahoma State and enjoyed the visit, though the thought is Clemson still leads.

If all three of these recruits sign with Clemson then the Tigers would have the best class in Coach Swinney’s history from a stars average and 247 rating perspective. Though it will be a smaller class the top to bottom talent would be phenomenal. And that’s without some potential surprises in Clemson’s favor......