As if college football fans don’t have enough going on in December, along comes Year 2 of the Early Signing Period (aka ESP).
JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM
WHO: Class of 2019 high school graduates and juco players who are eligible to transfer to 4-year schools.
WHAT: Prep football players send in a national letter of intent (LOI) to the school of their choice, assuming they have solid offers. In a strange outmoded tradition, these forms signed by the player and parent or guardian are faxed to the universities, but I assume some are sent digitally nowadays.
WHERE: Most high schools hold assemblies for student athletes to announce their decisions and sign. University representatives are not allowed to be present. Most recruits have already announced their commitment but for those who have not, they like to do the timeworn hat switcheroo thing.
WHEN: Starting Wednesday, December 19 at midnight through Friday, December 21. Those who do not sign during this span must wait until February 6, 2019. A dead period of no recruiting contact began Monday December 17, 2018 and lasts through January 10, 2019.
WHY: All other sports have had a collective early signing period for many years. This year it was November 14, 2018. For some reason, football never had an ESP. I cannot recall any clamoring for a football ESP, but it was approved two years ago. Although it has made recruiting more difficult on coaching staffs, it has been helpful for those who are ready to get the process over as well as those enrolling in December. One interesting offshoot of the ESP is how quickly head coaches were fired and hired. As of now, there are no head coaching vacancies in FBS.
SIGNED, SEALED & DELIVERED
While technically not signed yet, OT Pierce Quick, QB Paul Tyson, and WR John Metchie have already moved onto campus and are practicing with the team. It’s a safe bet that they sign with the Tide on Wednesday.
The following fifteen are expected to be Early Enrollees (EE):
- Antonio Alfano DT Colonia, NJ 6’4”/285 - EE
- Pierce Quick OL Trussville, AL 6’5”/270 - EE
- Amari Kight OL Alabaster, AL 6’6”/300 - EE
- Shane Lee LB Baltimore, MD 6’0”/235 - EE
- Justin Eboigbe DE Forest Park, GA 6’5”/261 - EE
- Jeffrey Carter CB Mansfield, TX 6’0”/186 - EE
- King Mwikuta LB LaGrange, GA 6’4”/220 - EE
- Taulia Tagovailoa QB Alabaster, AL 6’0”/190 - EE
- Kevin Harris DE Loganville, GA 6’4”/218 - EE
- Paul Tyson QB Trussville, AL 6’4”/210 - EE
- John Metchie WR Hightstown, NJ 6’0”/188 EE
- Darrian Dalcourt OL Baltimore, MD 6’3”/290 - EE
- DJ Dale DT Pinson, AL 6’3”/320 - EE
- Tanner Bowles OL Glasgow, KY 6’5”/270 - EE
- Will Reichard K Hoover, AL 6’1”/185 - EE
The following four are expected to sign early (ESP) but not enroll early:
- DeMarcco Hellams ATH Hyattsville, MD 6’1”/204 ESP
- Brandon Turnage DB Oxford, MS 6’1”/185 ESP
- Braylen Ingraham DE Ft Lauderdale, FL 6’4”/260 ESP
- Jahleel Billingsley TE Chicago, IL 6’5”/227 ESP
The following prospects are committed to Alabama but for various reasons, do not plan to sign early:
- Dax Hill S Tulsa, OK 6’0½”/186 - There is an outside chance he could still sign early, but this one isn’t over yet.
- Christian Harris ILB Baton Rouge, LA 6’1½”/239 - Harris indicated that he wants to sign with his teammates in February. This seems legit. University Lab is expecting to have seven or eight players sign with FBS schools this year.
- Byron Young DE Laurel, MS 6’5”/280 - It feels like this kid is getting pressured or maybe he wants to “enjoy the recruiting process” a little more (i.e. more OVs to be wined and dined). If he is not careful, he might lose his spot.
- Christian Williams DB Daphne, AL 6’1”/175 - His signing might hinge on what others do and the signing count.
- Keilan Robinson RB Washington, DC 5’9”/180 - Same as above.
For some reason the national recruiting media seems to think commits Eboigbe, Hellams, and Turnage could sign elsewhere.
- Justin Eboigbe has been playing his cards close to his chest. I am not sure what to think with him but he was in Tuscaloosa over the weekend for his official visit. Any other school would be hard pressed to top the show Bama puts on for OVs. He will sign Wednesday at 10:30am CT.
- I have never had any reason to think Brandon Turnage would sign anywhere other than with the Tide. He has gotten a lot of pressure from his hometown of Oxford to sign with Ole Miss. He plans to sign at the crack of 7:30am CT.
- Mike Locksley was the primary recruiter for DeMarcco Hellams, so there are some who think the two will be reunited in College Park. Locks even went as far as hiring Hellams’ high school head coach Elijah Brooks to be Maryland’s running backs coach. However once again, I have seen no indication that he will sign anywhere other than with Alabama.
Sometimes we forget that these are 17 and 18 year old kids. Many of them come from little towns and find themselves suddenly thrust into the national spotlight. They have coaches, neighbors, Uncle Joe, the mailman, grandmama’s hair stylist, and bozos on social media trying to tell them which school to pick. It is a tough situation. On occasion, there are recruits who are a little immature and do not have competent adult advisors around them. So, go easy on them.
TOP UNCOMMITTED TARGETS EXPECTED TO SIGN EARLY
- Trey Sanders, 5-star RB, Port St. Joe, FL (IMG) - announcing on Wednesday at 12pm CT on ESPNU between Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Alabama is a slight favorite.
- Nakobe Dean, 5-star ILB, Horn Lake, MS - Announcing on Wednesday at 1:20pm CT on ESPNU between Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss. It’s anyone’s guess.
- Evan Neal, 5-star OT, Okeechobee, FL (IMG) - Announcing on Wednesday at 1:30pm CT on ESPNU between Alabama, Miami, Florida State and Georgia. Alabama is the favorite.
- Jordan Battle, 4-star S, Fort Lauderdale, FL - Ohio State commit has no scheduled announcement. The Buckeyes may have lost him for good. Alabama and Oklahoma appear to be the top suitors to flip him.
- DJ Williams, 3-star RB, Sebring, FL - The Appalachian State commit’s signing with the Crimson Tide likely depends on what Sanders does. He had OVs to Miami, Auburn and Georgia as well as Alabama.
OTHERS SIGNING DURING THE ESP
- Ty Robinson, 4-star SDE, Gilbert, AZ - Looking like Nebraska.
- Keon Zipperer, 4-star TE, Lakeland, FL - Announcing on Wednesday at 10:30am CT on ESPN2 between Alabama, LSU, Florida and Miami. He likely signs with the Gators.
- Darnell Wright OT - Committing Feb 6 NSD.
- Ishmael Sopsher DT - Committing Feb 6 NSD.
- Khris Bogle DE - Committing Jan 5 at the Army All-American game.
- Marcus Banks CB - Supposedly he will sign during the ESP but wait until the Army All-American game Jan 5 to announce.
- Deondrick Glass RB - Committing Jan 14.
- Henry To’oto’o OLB - Signing Feb 6 NSD.
- Noa Pola-Gates CB - ?