The second year of the early signing period for college football has come and gone, and it has been greeted with approval by many coaches around the country.
Count Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott among those who are a fan of the early signing period, which gives prospects a three-day window in December to go ahead and sign with their school of choice. If they choose to wait, they can still sign on the traditional National Signing Day in February.
During last month’s early signing period (Dec. 19-21), all 24 of Clemson’s commitments showed that they are All In by signing with the Tigers, who also inked a few additional targets to enter the February signing day with a total of 27 signees in the 2019 class.
Elliott likes the early signing period for several reasons, including that it brings clarity to the recruiting board by allowing coaches to know what they have on board and which prospects are still on the market heading into national signing day.
“The biggest thing is you know which guys are committed to you when they sign, and so now you know exactly where you’re headed in January,” Elliott said recently. “Obviously we have a lot of targets, and you want to get them all signed. But these young men have options and they’re going to make decisions that they feel are right for them and their family at that current time. You’d love to get all of them, but you know that’s not possible.
“So now you have some clarity going into January, and if there’s any needs that you weren’t able to fill in the early signing period, now you can hone in on those specifically.”
Elliott is also fond of the fact that the early signing period takes pressure off prospects who have long been committed to a school, know for certain they want to sign with that school and can shut down the stressful recruiting process a couple of months early.
“They’re able to get that off their plate and then go back to just being a regular high school student,” Elliott said. “That’s one of the things in recruiting – it starts so early with these young men nowadays, especially these high-profile young athletes. Now they get an opportunity just to get it off their chest, the weight of the world is off their shoulders… They can go back to being a son, a brother, a cousin — they can just go back to being a normal high school student.”
Another benefit of the early signing period for Clemson is that it has allowed the Tigers to lock up the majority of their class and thus allows the coaches turn more attention to recruiting prospects in future classes as they hit the recruiting trail.
“It gives you an opportunity to get a jump on some young guys as you go out in January because you already have most of your class solidified,” Elliott said.
Elliott says the biggest thing that Clemson’s coaches learned from the inaugural early signing period in 2017 is not to panic if they missed on certain targets because there is still plenty of time left to add talent on the February national signing day.
“For each of us, we’re able to kind of lock in on the guys – you battle, you battle, you battle. If you get them, you get them, and if not, you don’t panic because you know there’s going to be a couple guys that are going to wait it out,” Elliott said. “And Coach Swinney challenges us all the time to make sure that we’re not forgetting about the guys that may develop late. There’s a lot of guys that are going to develop late, going to have great senior seasons, so there’s still going to be good players that are going to be available for the February signing day.”