When it comes to an early signing period in football, Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is rolling with the flow.
This week, the NCAA Division I Council approved a three day window in December concurrent with the existing junior college mid-year enrollee signing period in which all recruits will be able to sign a National Letter of Intent. This year that will start on Dec. 20.
How much the rules change alters the landscape of recruiting remains to be seen. College coaches have had a variety of strong opinions on the subject, with some like Alabama's Nick Saban staunchly opposed and others very much in favor of it. There is a general sense that the country's most prominent programs won't benefit from the change because some of their backup targets could sign elsewhere before they know whether they'd like to offer them a scholarship.
“I don’t worry about things I can’t control, so whatever the rules are we’re going to go by them," Graham said following ASU's Saturday Spring Game. "I’m an old high school coach and I care about the kids. I think the early signing period is fine, to be in December. I’m not for moving it in front of the year because it backs the decision up for the kids too far. I’m excited they’re going to let the kids (officially) visit in April, May and June. Most kids are committed by August and they’re having to pay their own way. They shouldn’t have to pay their own way to visit our camp. I think a lot of the changes were very positive. I think I’m excited they’ve given us another coach, I think that’s really going to help when you talk about player safety and do a better job coaching safety."
Recruits will be able to take earlier official visits due to the rules change, and it could further expedite the recruiting process as a result, which has sped up significantly already in recent years with more early commitments. Programs that recruit at the highest level tend to want to have more time to make decisions on personnel.
“It just moves up," Graham said. "You can go ahead and get those guys signed but at the end of the day you want kids to end up where they’re supposed to and the best place for them to be successful.”
Following the rules changes, which also includes a 10th assistant coach being added to Division I programs early next year, American Football Coaches Association executive director Todd Berry called it "by far the most sweeping legislative package we've had" in decades.
Spring Game notes
-- Even with sophomore N'Keal Harry held out of action after getting banged up in Wednesday's practice per offensive coordinator Billy Napier, the first-team offense exploded in Saturday's spring game with a 60-3, but the score was relatively misleading. Sophomore wide receiver John Humphrey Jr. had a huge performance with four touchdown catches, a couple of which were contested in the end zone. It was the most impressive showing on the afternoon. Importantly though, Humphrey was working against walk-on cornerbacks at times because the first-team offense played against the second-team defense and ASU has just three scholarship cornerbacks.
-- With Harry out of action the first-team wide receiver reps at the X position were taken by sophomore Terrell Chatman and Ryan Newsome. Junior Jalen Harvey and senior Ryan Newsome worked with the first-group in the slot and at the Z position Kyle Williams took the reps when Humphrey wasn't on the field.
-- Numerous former ASU players were in attendance including Eric Allen, Will Sutton, Damarious Randall, Alden Darby, Antonio Longino, Jordan Simone and Marcus Hardison.
-- ASU's 2017 recruiting class was extremely well represented at the Spring Game. Ryan Kelley, Curtis Hodges, K.J. Jarrell, Corey Stephens and Kyle Soelle were in attendance.
-- Numerous recruits were on the field before the spring game and ASU followed the scrimmage with scholarship offers to two locals, Centennial defensive back Dominique Hampton and Mountain Pointe safety Kenny Churchwell.