First Wednesday in February isn’t what it used be in college football recruiting
Iowa only expected to add two players on Wednesday after signing 17 in December
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The first Wednesday in February isn’t what it used to be for those who crave college football recruiting.
The first Wednesday in February used to be like Christmas morning for the recruiting fanatics, with one gift coming after another in the form of a signed letter of intent from, hopefully, the next superstar on your favorite college team.
The first Wednesday in February still is the traditional signing day for college football, but the tradition has been altered significantly since 2017 with the addition of an early signing period in December.
For proof, just look at Iowa’s 2021 recruiting class.
All but two of the 19 high school seniors who are committed to Iowa’s 2021 recruiting class signed their letter of intent during the early signing period.
The two exceptions are Des Moines North running back Deavin Hilson and Jacksonville, Fla., center Michael Myslinski, both of whom are expected to sign a letter of intent on Wednesday.
The decision to add an early signing period made sense in a lot of ways.
For one, basketball has two signing periods. So why shouldn’t football?
Some recruits decide during the summer before their senior year, or early in the fall, what school they want to attend, but until 2017, they had to wait until the first Wednesday in February to make it official.
That just didn’t make a lot of sense.
The only problem with the early signing period being in December, as Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has pointed out, is that it’s too close to the traditional signing period, just about six weeks apart.
Basketball, on the other hand, has an early signing period in November followed by a spring signing period in April. That’s a separation of about five months, which makes more sense.
The early signing period in football should be held in either late August or early September, because that way, recruits who already have made a verbal commitment could finish the recruiting process before their senior year of high school even starts, or early in their senior year.
To have their recruitment out of the way would be one less distraction during a typical senior year of high school that is filled with distractions.
Eventually, with multiple vaccines now available, the global pandemic that has created a new normal will release its grip on society.
And while the pandemic’s impact on the recruiting process is small in the big scheme of things, it still has created major obstacles for kids trying to make one of the biggest decisions in their lives up to this point.
The NCAA DI Council extended the recruiting dead period for all Division I sports through April 15 after having been implemented shortly after the outbreak of the coronavirus last March.
You feel for the current high school senior class, and the junior class for that matter, because the global pandemic has made it extremely difficult for them to get noticed, and to get better acquainted with coaches and possible future teammates.
In-person recruiting, and the travel for coaches, prospective student-athletes and their families is now prohibited, and that’s a huge obstacle to overcome.
Recruiting is now handled virtually, and while there is some flexibility by allowing all coaches, full-time staff school staff members and current students to conduct recruiting calls without a countable coach being present, it’s still not the same as being on campus and meeting with people face-to-face.
But even with all of the obstacles, Iowa still managed to put together a class that is ranked 24th nationally by Rivals.
Six players in the class are ranked as four-star recruits by Rivals, including three offensive linemen: Connor Colby, who is from Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Illinois native David Davidkov, and Blue Springs, Mo., native Beau Stephens.
Receiver Keegan Johnson, linebacker Justice Sullivan and athlete Arland Bruce also have a four-star rating.
Bruce is from Olathe, Kan., but he transferred to Ankeny for his senior season, and along with fellow Iowa recruit Brody Brecht, helped lead Ankeny to the Class 4A state title.
Kirk Ferentz will hold a zoom conference with the media on Wednesday as part of the traditional signing day format, but there probably won’t be much to discuss about recruiting with only two players signing letters of intent on that day.
Ferentz will almost certainly talk more about roster moves, position changes and preparing for spring football than he will about recruiting because the early signing period has forever changed the narrative.
The first Wednesday in February just isn’t the same anymore.