COLUMBUS — But what about the hats? Will we still see the hats?
For decades the first Wednesday of February has been national signing day for recruits in college football.
It has been one of the biggest days of the year on the football calendar for many people. In a 2012 story in The Lima News I described it this way:
For big fans of college football, it’s like Christmas morning and they’re unwrapping their gifts.
For the players putting their name on the letter of intent, it’s a little like graduation day as they take a big step into what they believe will be a bright future.
For the media who cover recruiting on a daily basis, it’s a day of marathon coverage that is like their Super Bowl.
And, on a few occasions, it can become a day when a recruit handles his first time in the national spotlight with all the dignity of a Kardashian.
One of the clichés of signing day is a recruit putting the hats of the top three or four contenders for his signature on a national letter of intent on a table in front of him and then putting on the hat of the team he has chosen.
But all that could change this year with an early signing period, which starts this Wednesday.
The February signing date will still exist. But many, if not most, of the top recruits will sign in December.
Ohio State expects 19 of its 21 verbal commitments to sign this week and has promises from the other two recruits that they will sign in February.
The two signing periods are similar to what NCAA Division I basketball has done for years. It has an early signing period in November and another in April.
If football gets similar results, it will see most of the top players sign early and maybe a few of the prized recruits will wait until later to sign.
The early signing period is viewed as mostly positive by coaches. They can lock down their top recruits earlier and spend six fewer weeks worrying if another school will flip any of their verbally committed athletes.
If there are negatives for coaches, one of the biggest is that the early signing date is before underclassmen have to declare if they are entering the NFL draft, so their recruits might not always match up with their needs.
For recruits there are more than a few concerns. The biggest one is the possibility the head coach or position coach they thought they were signing to play for might take another job or get fired after they put their signature on a letter of intent.
Another big one is that if they don’t sign early, coaches might withdraw their offer to them or start recruiting another player at their position.
If Ohio State signs all of its committed players now or later, it could have the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
According to 247sports.com, Ohio State currently is No. 1, followed by Texas, Miami, Georgia, Penn State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Auburn, Alabama and Oregon.
Also, according to 247sports.com, which averages the rankings of several major recruiting analysts, Ohio State has 11 commitments from players ranked in the top 100 recruits in the class of 2018.
Defensive tackle Taron Vincent (13), running back Jaelen Gill (23), defensive back Jaiden Woodbey (27), tight end Jeremy Ruckert (29), linebacker Teradja Mitchell (39) and quarterback Emory Jones (40) are in the top 40.
Defensive back Tyreke Johnson (41), center Matthew Jones (55), wide receiver Kamryn Babb (65), safety Josh Proctor (76) and running back Brian Snead (82) are also in the top 100.
Change is coming to signing day as we’ve known it. Just how much change will begin to become apparent on Wednesday.