BRADENTON, Fla. — On Monday, news of an approved December signing period went national.
The subject seemed to dominate the college football conversation. The expected questions surfaced.
Who does it benefit? Who does it hurt? How much will it change National Signing Day in February?
Fans, media members and even a few coaches made their thoughts known.
But at IMG Academy (Fla.) — the school that has the highest concentration of Division I football commitments of any program in the country — it hadn’t been discussed. At all. That much was learned after another usual question surfaced.
How do you feel about the new early signing period?
“Oh, there is?” IMG offensive tackle Daniel Faalele said.
Yep. It starts on Dec. 20, 2017 and it lasts 72 hours.
“Right now, we’re just really focused on our team. We don’t pay much attention to the outside,” Faalele told Saturday Tradition. “Yeah, I just learned about (early signing day) right now.”
In Faalele’s defense, he’s new to football. As in, he came from Australia a few months ago having never played a down of organized football. The arrival of the 6-8, 400-pound newcomer was well-documented.
The early signing period, however, was not so widely known, at least according to the players at IMG.
Take Brendan Radley-Hiles. The four-star cornerback committed to Nebraska right before the Huskers’ spring game. As someone who played for three powerhouse programs in three different states, Radley-Hiles is as well-informed as anyone about all things recruiting.
He heard about the new early signing period, but he didn’t exactly have all the details.
“Doesn’t it go into effect next year?” Radley-Hiles asked.
Nope. It starts on Dec. 20, 2017 and it lasts 72 hours.
“Oh, the 2018 class can do it?” Radley-Hiles said. “Oh, I thought it was 2019. I thought all the rules that happened this year were for the 2019 class. I didn’t even know that.”
Radley-Hiles looked around as if the reporter who asked the question was playing a joke on him. He might’ve confused that with the NCAA’s proposed early official visits, which wouldn’t begin until the spring of 2018 for the 2019 class.
Perhaps the early signing period news didn’t stick with IMG recruits because the vast majority — if not all of them — will announce their commitments before either signing day and become early enrollees.
Last year, all but one of IMG’s 21 scholarship football players enrolled in college early. The only one who didn’t was Michigan signee Jordan Anthony, who stayed in Bradenton to play baseball.
In other words, the early signing period wasn’t a game-changing development for everyone.
“That doesn’t really make an impact on us because really, all of us commit early to get it out of the way so we can focus on this team,” Radley-Hiles said. “One goal.”