What and when is the Early Signing Period?
College Football’s 2nd ever Early Signing Period will take place starting on December 19th, and continue until December 21st. The Early Signing Period has become the newest, most important recruiting “event” in the annual recruiting calendar.
Why is the ESP so important?
Now that so many recruits will sign and be bound to National Letter of Intents a full 2 months before February’s signing day, the recruiting timeline has moved up significantly. If the last 2 years are any indication, there’s all kinds of jockeying to fill the final spots in everyone’s classes, and the sped up timeline combined with the fact that there will soon be much fewer recruits available has made the recruiting process all the more competitive. The ESP presents a unique opportunity for coaches to lock up all of their commits a full 2 months ahead of February. This is especially a good thing for smaller schools who will not have to worry about their recruits being poached by bigger programs in the next 2 months.
Last year 80% of committed prospects signed early, 76% of blue chips signed early, while 65% of the overall class was off the board in just a few days. This season that number is expected to increase to anywhere from 75-90%. Getting prospects locked down earlier serves a number of benefits outside of just worrying about potential flips. For example, programs will not need to waste anymore resources recruiting prospects already bound to their schools, and can rather put these resources to use recruiting un-signed prospects. This sped up cycle not only helps you close out 2019 earlier, but it also allows for coaches to start pouring more resources into recruiting 2020. It also helps clarify numbers for coaching staffs. You will know for certain what you’re going to have coming in a full 2 months before you usually would have. Clemson has traditionally locked down its prospects and recruiting classes early. This means the adjustment has not been as big for the Tigers as it has for other programs.
What does it mean if a committed recruit does not sign in the Early Signing period?
It becomes open season. Essentially, it means that the prospect will no longer be considered committed by every staff willing to pursue that prospect. There are fewer prospects available, so the ones that have not signed see their recruitment’s become infinitely more competitive due to programs looking to fill needs late in the cycle. This is another reason why the ESP is important for smaller programs, because in these now highly competitive recruitments, they are/were likely going to have to compete with bigger programs for a prospect’s signature. Recruitments that go beyond the ESP are going to be increasingly difficult to win, and the chances of coming in late to flip another school’s underrated prospect are decreasing every season. As of right now, there is nothing to indicate that any member of Clemson’s recruiting class will not be signing between December 19th-21st.
Will Clemson have the same fireworks it did during last year’s ESP?
In terms of 5-star prospects? No, but that is okay. Last year, the Tigers landed both 5-star Jackson Carman, 5-star KJ Henry, and still had a shot to land 5-star Cade Mays during the ESP as well. In addition to those three, 4-star RB Lyn-J Dixon also made his decision during the ESP. As for this year there are a few names in particular to watch down the stretch, however, there is a chance only 1, or even none of them make public announcements during this time period.
William Putnam decides this week, Crouch decides during the ESP but we won’t know his public decision until January 5th, Ealy isn’t deciding until late into the Spring, and Tyler Davis has gone silent so it’s impossible to know if he is deciding during this window either.
Okay, so how does Clemson’s class stack up compared to its competitors?
Clemson’s class stacks up very well. If the Tigers can close with Putnam, Crouch, Davis, and another decent OL prospect, regardless of what happens with Ealy’s MLB draft decision it will be a top 3 or 4 caliber recruiting class. As is the usual at this point, Alabama’s class is flat out ridiculous. Not just in star power, but the evaluations behind many of their players have been exceptional, and the class they have coming in on the Defensive side of the ball is something to truly behold. UGA, the biggest thorn in Clemson’s side during the 2018 cycle also has an exceptional class. They sit at 2, but that’s a more testament to Alabama’s class than their own. The Crimson Tide could set the 24/7 Sports record for class ranking. Outside of those teams, Texas A&M and LSU are ahead of the Tigers, but if Clemson lands all of its top targets there’s a strong chance it could end up 3rd nationally.
If you have any further questions about the Early Signing Period, feel free to ask them in the comments.