By LARRY VAUGHT
One impact from the December national signing period for college football is that coaches start working on the next year’s recruiting class a lot sooner than when the only signing date used to be in February each year.
“After we hopefully get all or very close to this class wrapped up on the 19th , then we can go work on (20)20s a lot in January. There may be a few loose ends to tie up. Hopefully, if we have a scholarship or two there’s definitely still some good players that will be left on the board that we’ll have to recruit,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
“But the pressure is all in December because you get done with the games and you want to get it wrapped up by the 19th. And again, the student-athletes spoke a year ago by signing early. I don’t know what the exact statistic was, or number, but it was in the—what? —90-something percent of power-five kids signed. So, it compacts our December for sure.
“But we also do more in-season as well. Have more kids on campus for in-season games and that’s always good and bad. It’s nice to be able to fly parents in and the prospects in and spend time with them and see the game day atmosphere and be around here. And that’s good but it’s tough on us coaches also because our attention is on winning that game until the game is over. On a night game you might get to spend some time with them on Sunday, but it feels kind of condensed a little bit.”
Stoops says he tries to visit every potential signee in December before the national signing period opens Dec. 19.
“That’s got me running all over the place,” the coach said.
He also believes more players feel the need to sign early rather than wait until February. Many not only sign early, but also enroll in college for the spring semester so they can go through spring practice.
“When we only had one signing day, there were surprises on that day too, for us and everybody, every team in the country, believe me. I was at Florida State and we were holding onto our tail on signing day,” Stoops said.
“Sometimes we got some good surprises and sometimes we got some … surprises. And so, it’s just like that. It is, it’s like that all the time. But I like it this way, again, because if you get that surprise or if somebody doesn’t sign then you know you’ve got to go look for another guy and you have time to get that fixed.”