Some like notion of signing early

An August period would allow relief from recruitment during senior season

Updated: January 29, 2013, 2:45 PM ET
By Chantel Jennings | WolverineNation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- There are several parallels between college football and basketball recruiting as far as the dead and live periods, contact, camps and combines.

But one big difference exists.

Henry Poggi
Jeff Peoples/IntersportHenry Poggi likes signing day where it is because too much can change with college coaching staffs.
For basketball, the NCAA allows an early signing period and a regular signing period. The early date this year, in mid-November saw three Wolverines basketball commits sign, allowing them to play their entire senior basketball seasons without calls from coaches or letters from schools.

But for colleges that didn't have commits or recruits sign at that point, they're able to sign during the regular period in April, which also allows for a bit more exposure as the AAU season begins.

But for football, there is no early signing period. With only one signing period, football players must wait until February of their senior years to ink their national letters of intent, meaning they play their senior seasons with the pressures of recruiting.

If the NCAA were to adopt an early signing period for football, August seems like the logical choice. If that were the case, Michigan would've signed 21 commits.

Of those commits, they remain split on the issue. Some see the obvious benefits of being able to focus on their final high school season without the distractions of recruiting. But others look at situations like Wisconsin, Oregon, Tennessee, Auburn or Cal and imagine what it would be like to have signed with a coaching staff to which he didn't commit.

Defensive tackle Henry Poggi (Baltimore/Gilman), whose father and two older brothers all played college football, is well aware of the coaching carousel that, without fail, happens after every season. For him, the first Wednesday in February is perfect.

"I think there's a lot that can happen during that football season, given that the football season goes so late," Poggi said. "With an early signing day if a kid commits and something happens with your position coach or you head coach, you want to be able to change that."

And surprisingly, the Wolverines' longest commitment -- quarterback Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle) -- who will have been committed for more than a year and a half by the time he signs, completely agrees with Poggi.

After playing in national tournaments and combines last season, Morris knows players all over the country, some of whom were committed to coaches that left for other schools or the NFL.

"I think what they have now is fine," Morris said. "If you sign, you're pretty much stuck. There are things that happen, programs change, and there are things you need to know before you sign."

But linebacker commit Mike McCray (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) would like to have had the option to sign early.

The Ohio native spent most of his senior season under intense speculation from Wolverines and Buckeyes fans of a possible decommitment. McCray knew he wanted to go to Michigan, so an early signing day would've been his way not to have to deal with the doubters and move on to the next part of his life.

"Some people commit earlier and they don't want to wait around," McCray said. "They just want to sign and get it over with so they can just focus on getting ready for school."

And for tight end commit Khalid Hill (Detroit/East English Village Prep), he wishes he could've just signed last February on the day he committed. He thinks that would help recruits take verbal commitments more seriously because it would be binding rather than a placeholder, which some recruits see it as.

Hill said he knows that's not completely practical because the NCAA wouldn't be able to regulate every signing day for every single commit. But for him, that pipe dream would've been perfect.

"The recruiting process weighs on you," Hill said. "Colleges are calling, you're getting mail and Facebook, more reporters want to talk. But if you sign, then it's done."

It's exactly a week for each of these commits until they become signees. At this point last year, Michigan had two commits for this class. The Wolverines have one commit lined up for their 2014 class -- linebacker Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville).

And Ferns is already looking forward to this next year passing as quickly as possible, wishing he had the option of an early signing day. Already, the Watch List linebacker has had to fend off the coaches hoping Ferns wavers, but he knows that, like McCray, if he could just sign early he could make all those distractions and frustrations disappear.

"Each day you get the other coach who shows up to just start recruiting, a different school adding me on Facebook," Ferns said. "I always say, 'Hey, listen, here is where I stand with everything.' "

Now he just wishes he could back that up with an early national letter of intent.

Chantel Jennings | email

Oregon/Pac-12 reporter