If a new NCAA rule had been in place this past Aug. 1, Arkansas could already have a handful of mid-term football signees in its 2014 class.
The Razorback have pledges from mid-term enrollees in quarterback Rafe Peavey of Bolivar, Mo., Shreveport, La., Evangel wide receiver Jared Cornelius and Scranton, Pa., Lackawanna Community College offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor.
The new rule – per athleticscholarships.net – would allow athletes who are on course to graduate at mid-term to go ahead and ink a financial letter of intent with their chosen school either on or after Aug. 1.
John Infante, a former compliance officer at NCAA schools, noted the change in his Bylaw Blog – which is featured on NCAA.org.
The academic and membership affairs staff determined that a prospective student-athlete who intends to graduate from high school midyear and enroll at a member institution midyear during the same academic year (e.g., spring semester) may sign an institutional financial aid agreement on or after August 1 of his or her senior year, provided the institution issuing the financial aid agreement establishes, prior to issuing the agreement, that the prospective student-athlete is enrolled in all coursework necessary to graduate from high school at midyear."
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said this after having three early enrollees at Wisconsin in 2012 and thus able to go through spring practice.
"You don't just decide your senior year that you're going to graduate," Bielema said. "They planned this thing out in advance, did a lot of extra academic work to get to where they are, and now they really get a bonus semester of college football. Those three guys will all have a distinct advantage."
The new rule will apply to all sports, but football had been the sport that uses mid-term enrollees the most.
Per USA Today, a record 162 high school prospects enrolled early in 2013 at BCS schools – including 43 at SEC schools.
Georgia had the most early enrollees in the SEC and nationally last season with 10 while Florida had 6 and Alabama and LSU five each.
Some other BCS schools who led the way in early high school enrollees were USC (6), Ohio State (6), Michigan (6), West Virginia (5), Illinois (5), Notre Dame (4), Texas A&M (4), Tennessee (4) and North Carolina (4).
Arkansas did not have any high school enrollees last season, but did have five junior college players who came in January and were able to go through spring practice.
The 162 topped the previous record of 141 in 2010 and USA Today notes that 61 of the 73 BCS schools had at least one high school early enrollee.
The new rule does not bind a high school prospect to the school – only the school to the prospect.
That's because while junior college transfers can sign a letter-of-intent, high school athletes will only be able to sign a financial aid agreement with their chosen institution.
Arkansas WR pledge Jared Cornelius at his ceremony August 9 announcing he was committing to the Razorbacks.
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