National Signing Day needs to stay exclusively in February

Published 12:10 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Wednesday marks the opening day of National Signing Day for high school football players.

Selma High offensive tackle Jeremiah Wright is expected to sign with Auburn.

This is the third straight year for two different signing periods for football, which lasts until Friday.  The second signing day will be held on Feb. 4, 2020.

In April 2017, the NCAA Division I Council voted to reinstate an early signing period, effective with the 2017–18 school year.  The Collegiate Commissioners Association approved the new NCAA rule the following month, setting the early signing window for prep standouts.

Call me a traditionalist, but I prefer national signing day on the first Wednesday in February because it provides more dramatics.

Several kids often rush into making a decision right after football season ends, some after reaching the championship game in their respective states.

During my years of covering football recruiting, I always loved writing about the prospects taking visits in January and enjoying the process until the final day.

The month-long period, Dec. 18-Jan. 15, should remain solely to the Junior College prospects. I covered some of the best JUCO football in Mississippi. Those JUCO coaches and players work hard and deserved the spotlight to themselves.

I have a theory why the NCAA made two signing periods for football: slow down the SEC’s dominance in recruiting. A big reason for he SEC being the nation’s top football conference because of its ability to land blue-chip recruits.

Alabama has landed several No. 1 recruiting classes under coach Nick Saban, with LSU and Georgia often finishing in the top five.

If that was the case, the plan has backfired. Alabama could land another No. 1 signing class, while LSU, Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn figure to land quality players as well.

The Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12 conferences are behind the SEC in recruiting.

Texas’ lack of landing a sure-fire blue chip prospect at quarterback has  kept it out of the national playoff race.

The only reason the Longhorns got a preseason Top 10 ranking because they beat an unmotivated Georgia squad in the Sugar Bowl.

I’ll give Clemson coach Dabo Swinney credit. The former Alabama walk-on often competes with the SEC for talent, a reason why the Tigers have won two national titles.

Swinney has ventured into SEC territory to land star quarterbacks and defensive linemen.

It’s a reason I am not counting Clemson to repeat at national champions.

Lack of recruiting is the main reason Florida State has fallen into obscurity. Former coaches Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher often came out on top against Florida for Sunshine state prospects.

Florida coach Dan Mullen was a great recruiter at Mississippi State and figures to win the sunshine state for players.

I believe Mullen’s departure to Florida is a big reason why Joe Moorhead has struggled recruiting top-notch players to Starkville.

Once Mullen finds himself another Dak Prescott or Tim Tebow at quarterback, the Gators will be back in the national title race. I like Mullen’s chances to overtake Georgia in the SEC Eastern Division race someday.

I will accept the early signing period eventually, but not right now. I’m not ready.