One of Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema’s biggest pushes this spring and early summer has been for an early signing period for football.
He sees it as a plus for Arkansas and most other schools if grid recruits are able to sign somewhere between June and September instead of waiting until early February.
“Change one recruiting rule? To be honest, it would be the early signing period,” Bielema said at the SEC Coaches Meetings. "I have always been at a school where we don’t have free flowing cash. We have to account for every penny we use and I love it that way.
“…I think an early signing period would cut down on a lot of costs.
“If he commits to us in say the spring of his junior year, he could sign somewhere like September first – or if we want to jump into June or July – if he could sign a piece of paper that commits him to us, we know that he couldn’t go anywhere else.
“So we don’t have to send a coach every week six different times to babysit him because lots of times there are seven other vultures (coaches) out there ready to go into schools if you are not there.”
Arkansas currently has nine pledges in its 2017 recruiting class and according to the texts received on Wednesday, the majority of them would be ready to link their national of intent letter with the Razorbacks right now.
Arkansas pledge Devion Warren (5-11, 170) of Monroe, La., Parrish – who could be a wide receiver or defensive back for the Razorbacks - said he would love to be able to sign right now.
“I certainly would,” Warren said. “It would help them (signees) see anything is possible, but they would also know that the schools are committed to them.
“I believe kids would stay dedicated, work hard and give God praise for what He has done for you and will do for you.”
Nashville offensive lineman and Razorback pledge Kirby Adcock said he would likely have signed if the rule had been in place this summer.
"I would definitely have thought about it," Adcock said. "It would be a great opportunity."
Arkansas wide receiver commit Jonathan Nance (6-1, 181, 4.4) of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College actually signed as a mid-term graduate with Southern Mississippi out of high school.
“Yes, signing early is a great idea,” Nance said. “It gives high school players a chance to go ahead and sign. I signed out of high school so that is always a great option.”
Festus, Mo., Jefferson offensive lineman Shane Clenin (6-5, 280) – another 2017 Arkansas commit – is not sure he would have signed early, but does see the benefits.
“I do not think that I would have, but I believe there is always a possibility,” Clenin said. “I think this would help high school kids shift their focus to college to high school and would really allow them to focus on their workouts and their high school season.”
Bielema said he believes the early signing period would eliminate some of the flipping from prospects at the end and also keep schools from pulling out at the last minute on players.
“It would eliminate the kids waffling and it would also do this - the schools, the dozen or so who can go get who they want although I realize they get beat sometimes – …those schools may offer a kid and then there are no consequences when maybe a month out from signing day or sometimes…a week out they start pulling scholarships offers when a kid has been committed to them for six to eight months.
“They (the kids) have bought t-shirts for the family for Christmas and then all of a sudden you don’t have a scholarship. That ain’t right and that is an ugly part of our game that changes people’s lives.”
Bielema, who is against conditional offers, believes it would let the kids know just how much they are wanted by coaches.
“If you had a early signing period where a kid gets an offer and commits and then signs, it’s all good,” Bielema said. “Or ‘hey, you don’t want me to sign’ so you must not be (truly) committed to me.
“I think that it would be an easy move that would take care of a lot of issues.”