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UCLA Football Recruiting: New Early Signing Period Offers Fans an Early Christmas

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While we used to have to wait until the first Wednesday in February, the new early signing period will bring new athletes to Westwood much sooner.

Dorian says he’s “here to stay”.
@DoriansTweets

A new era in football has begun—that of the new Early Signing Period in December. For the first time, a 72-hour window will open this Wednesday and close on Friday. During this time, prospects can sign with schools and avoid waiting until February to make their school choice official. Rumors have it that roughly 80% of recruits will sign during this time, although some will wait until February either to see how the chips fall or because they are waiting on test scores and grades. But, why the new early signing period? And, how do coaches feel about it? Who does this benefit and are there any drawbacks? And, more importantly, what does this look like for UCLA?

Why the introduction of the new early signing period?

Many prospects already know where they want to end up at this point. It takes away the waffling period where recruits can second guess their choice and allows them to make their decisions official earlier. They can still enroll early in classes and this early signing period also allows recruits to start taking official visits to schools earlier in their junior year. According to SI.com, they previously had to wait until September 1 of their senior year. Schools, then, know what their recruiting cycle truly looks like and how many spots are actually left to fill.

How do the coaches feel about it?

I’ve heard mixed feelings on the subject. According to Go Stanford, at Pac 12 Football Media Days back in July, David Shaw said the new early signing period is a bad idea. He believes recruits will still change their minds and that the families should have as much time to make their decision as possible. In addition, the coaching carousel hasn’t stopped turning in December. So, an athlete may be particularly close to a coach that ends up getting fired or poached by another school. Are we going to let these kids out of their letters because of coaching changes? Are we going to see a lot of freshman transfers because of situations like this?

According to CBSSports.com, Nick Saban isn’t a fan either, for many of the same reasons. He states:

"Two things happen: I see more players getting pressured by some schools to sign early so that they don't get an opportunity from maybe a bigger school later, which I don't think is in the player's best interest. A guy may have an opportunity to go to a place he's always wanted to go to or maybe a SEC school when he's getting pressured by another place to sign early. Then other guys are trying to make a decision about signing early or not signing early," he continued, "and they have all these new coaches and new coaching staffs bum rushing them to get them not to do that so they have a chance to recruit them. I have not talked to a coach who's happy with it. Not one."

It looks like the very people who are supposed to benefit from this change aren’t even big fans of it. From the outside, you’d think coaches would want these guys signing as soon as possible, but it turns out they’d rather not pressure kids into signing a binding National Letter of Intent that they may regret later.

Who benefits? Are there drawbacks?

While I’ve found two coaches who seem to be staunchly against the new early signing period, it is designed to help shorten the recruiting cycle so coaches aren’t going to have to worry about keeping tabs on verbal commits through the postseason and all the way until February. Commits who are absolutely certain where they want to go are free to make their decision almost two months early. Additionally, if a commit decides not to sign, it could be an indication that their decision isn’t exactly set in stone and he could be flipped. This new early signing period could also be harmful for recruits who aren’t exactly top prospects, but were considered late bloomers in their senior season. With so many scholarship spots gone by mid-December, these kids may not get the offers they would have in the past. The window is also much smaller for bigger programs who have been known to flip kids at the last minute and snag top recruits from rival programs.

What does the early signing period look like for UCLA?

There are 13 potential signees for UCLA, all who fall in the three- and four-star category. Two of those are on defense and the other ten are all on offense, including four-star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson out of Bishop Gorman. Here is UCLA’s current 2018 recruiting class:

2018 UCLA Football Recruiting Class

Recruit Name Position Current School Composite Rating NLI Submitted?
Recruit Name Position Current School Composite Rating NLI Submitted?
Bryan Addison ATH Junipero Serra (Gardena, CA) 4-Star Yes
Stephan Blaylock S St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA) 4-Star Yes
Bo Calvert LB Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, CA) 4-Star Yes
Chase Cota WR South Medford (Medford, OR) 4-Star Yes
Kyle Philips WR San Marcos (San Marcos, CA) 4-Star Yes
Kazmeir Allen RB Tulare Union (Tulare, CA) 3-Star Yes
Alec Anderson OT Etiwanda (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) 3-Star Yes
Atonio Mafi DT Junipero Serra (San Mateo, CA) 3-Star Yes
Tyler Manoa DT St. Francis (Mountain View, CA) 4-Star No
Chris Murray OL Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) 4-Star No
Dorian Thompson-Robinson QB Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV) 4-Star No
Elijah Wade DE Arbor View (Las Vegas, NV) 4-Star No
Matt Alaimo TE St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, NJ) 3-Star No
Je'Vari Anderson LB/DB Laney College (Oakland, CA) 3-Star No
Baraka Beckett OL Palisades (Pacific Palisades, CA) 3-Star No
Kenny Churchwell S Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, AZ) 3-Star No
Elisha Guidry DB Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, CA) 3-Star No
Delon Hurt WR Servite (Anaheim, CA) 3-Star No
Patrick Jolly, Jr. ATH Newsome (Lithia, FL) 3-Star No
Steven Mason DE Southwestern College (Chula Vista, CA) 3-Star No
CJ Parks WR Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) 3-Star No
David Priebe TE Midway (Waco, TX) 3-Star No
Tyree Thompson LB LA Valley College (Los Angeles, CA) 3-Star No
Composite Ratings are from 247Sports.com.


If any of these guys don’t sign this week, they will wait until the traditional signing period opens up again on February 7, 2018.

So far, Olaijah Griffin appears to be one guy who has said he won’t be signing until February, but we won’t know who else will sign or wait until schools start announcing that they have received a recruit’s National Letter of Intent.

Wrapping It Up

Basketball also has an early signing period in November, and if it is any indication of what will happen in football, we will see a majority of these guys sign by Friday. Coaches, top recruiters, and analysts alike really have no idea how this will pan out in the end. It will definitely prove to be an interesting week!


Go Bruins!


[UPDATE 6:13 pm]: 3-star DT recruit Aaron Maldonado decommitted an hour after this story was published. The chart in the story has been updated to reflect that decommitment.