Get Them Early

UCF has received an unprecedented amount of verbal commitments this summer, with nine players committing to play for the Knights. Coach George O'Leary knows that there is a lot of talent right now that is slated to head to UCF, but he remains cautiously optimistic.

"If they all hold up I think we're ahead of where we've been, no questions, in last year's recruiting," said O'Leary at a press conference last week.

O'Leary stresses "if" though, knowing that there is a long way until February, when National Signing Day takes place. Between now and February, a lot of players will continue to take visits to schools and they could have a change of heart. That is why O'Leary is a strong advocate of bringing in an early signing period.

"I think the big thing though is that kids are making earlier and earlier decisions as far as what to do or where to go, and that's why I'm such a strong advocate of bringing back the early signing period. Recruiting has changed immensely in the past 10 years when kids didn't make early decisions as much as they do now."

The Knights have already received commitments from some highly touted recruits and expect more soon, and for good reason. UCF has played excellent football over the past several years, is forming a strong pipeline to the NFL and has excellent facilities for recruits to see, something that O'Leary has stressed.

"I think the biggest change has been the stadium and having the ability to get the kids on campus. Because facility wise, we do have as nice as anybody's facilities, as far as when kids do come to see what's going on."

Despite these factors, O'Leary still feels that an early signing period would help out UCF in this situation and would benefit every school in the long run.

"It doesn't make sense right now to have all of these commitments. Then the key factor is really money. You still spend the same amount to actively recruit ‘verbals' as you do with someone who isn't a verbal. So to me, I like the fact that we used to have an early signing period, which would really get those kids done and committed and now you pretty much expect to recruit the rest of the class that needs to be recruited. I think it would work out better that way, but there are a lot of different thoughts on that."

O'Leary credits the internet and increased media coverage for the high amount of early commitments across the nation, saying that players are very aware of what options they have at an early point in their high school careers. Because players are more informed and schools can benefit too from an early signing period, O'Leary supports the notion and also sets a date that would make sense to him.

"I would say around the same time as the Junior College Signing day. Sometime in the middle December, because right now most kids visit during the season, a lot come up game weekends, and that still gives you three weekends in December or the last week of November to get kids on campus, especially for a guy who early committed already, they probably would have been there already and I just think it would open up a lot of doors and would also make kids keep a commitment and you wouldn't have to worry about visiting them every week and flying off to see them. Financially I would think it would be a great thing."

A change to an early signing period system is possible but it is unlikely to occur within the next year or so. While the decision would make sense, UCF can't rely on taking a break this year from pursuing their "committed" players as nothing is official until National Signing Day.

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