Penn State coach James Franklin on early signing period: “I think that’s going to become the signing date”
Penn State head coach James Franklin addresses reporters during the university’s May Coaches Caravan stop at Penn State Harrisburg in Middletown, Pa.
MIDDLETOWN — Penn State head coach James Franklin has maintained a consistent message when discussing new college football rules, those proposed and those approved, noting that change is fine, but also saying that unintended consequences are likely.
It was no big surprise, then, when the leader of the Lions said he didn’t expect the new college football early signing period, approved Monday by the College Commissioners Association to allow for this year’s high school seniors to sign a binding National Letter of Intent with the college of their choice over a 72-hour window in late December, to change a whole lot for him and his staff.
Except, of course, for the fact that he went on to add that he believes it will change National Signing Day, typically a huge extravaganza on college campuses and high school auditoriums nationwide from sunrise to sunset on the first Wednesday in February, forever.
“I think that’s going to become the signing date,” Franklin said during a stop on the Penn State Coaches Caravan at the Penn State Harrisburg campus here on Tuesday night. He, of course, was referring to the December date.
“I think the second signing date [which will still be on the first Wednesday in February]; if I had to guess, 75 to 85 percent of the guys are going to sign on the first date, and then there will be some things that are kind of still sitting out there.”
The new rule could and likely will change much about the recruiting landscape, especially combined with the approved decision to allow recruits to take official visits during the late spring and summer of their junior year starting with the signing Class of 2019 next spring.
Previously, and until then, college recruits cannot take up to five all-expense paid official visits that last up to 48 hours to college campuses until their senior year begins.
Back to the new signing date, though. What are the plusses and minuses to Franklin?
“I think the one positive is, you’re not going to be in a situation where you’re going to get surprised on signing day,” he said. “You may get surprised on the first signing day, and still have a chance to kind and recover with the other one with a few weeks left.
“I think there’s going to be some unforeseen consequences that come with this, that was my concern all along, but I don’t think it will be as significant as people think.”
One way it is being seen as significant, though, as SB Nation’s Bud Elliott pointed out earlier Tuesday, is that it will likely end up putting some recruits in a state of limbo come the end of December, when they will have to decide if they should sign with the school they are committed to or wait and hold out hope that a bigger offer comes along over the next six weeks. The problem is clear, though: What happens for them if the school they are committed to recruits around them in the interim and the offer from Big School U never comes?
It’s the kind of consequence Franklin speaks of, and examples can be found up-and-down the Penn State roster. Altoona native Kevin Givens is a good example, as he was committed to Pittsburgh from Feb. 14, 2014 until Feb. 3, 2015, when he decommitted from the Panthers and flipped to the Lions two days before Letters of Intent were do.
Is he a Lion with a December signing period in play? It’s hard to say.
But it will make the end of the calendar year interesting, that’s for sure. Signing Day as we know it may be coming to an end, but the recruiting world will keep on spinning, just as it always has.
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