The impact of the early National Signing Date in Football

For decades the first Wednesday in February was the holy grail of college football recruiting.  On that day kids and families would have their lives “officially” transformed forever as they signed a National Letter of Intent with the NCAA or NAIA and a Financial Aid agreement with the university they planned to attend.  This normally occurred after months of active recruiting, official visits, calls, mail, fax (gosh, who remembers that), text messages and of course now via social media.  Well that has changed when the NCAA in collaboration with the America Football Coaches Association (AFCA) agreed to add an “early” signing date, of which occurs Dec. 20, 2018.  For most this might not mean a lot, but for those going through it (coaches, players and families) this year has created quite a sense of urgency.

Let me explain! You see, in 2018, the cart is really coming before the horse in some cases.  What does that mean?  Well, normally a prospect and his family sort out their official visits (the time when you do a deep inspection of the university, coaches and program) after their senior season  (in some cases its been during the season), well this year the clock is sped up so much that in some case (take Texas High School Football), they will play the State Championship Football game AFTER the early national signing date in 2018.   So again, for those 1-3% of the country getting actively recruited by a major college university the clock is really sped up to make a decision.  This goes away in 2019 to some degree with the addition of Spring Official visits, but in 2018, its caused some serious anxiety.

Now, for those kids the won’t sign on Dec. 20th, 2018, the race to fill the rest of the major college class will be a sprint to February and the rest of the IAA, D2, NAIA and DIII schools will be eagerly lining up official visits in mad fashion during the month of Jan.  For more news and tips on college recruiting and how we advise families on this important process, contact the Bedford Agency at or on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube by searching for @BedfordAgency.


Bryan Bedford, Managing Director, Bedford Agency



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