Some random thoughts as we approach crunch time in the football recruiting world.
This is usually one of the toughest times of the year in football recruiting circles, especially in Illinois, which for years has been the "Land of the Early Oral Commitment."
But the end of this recruiting season seems harsher than ever.
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It seems like the Class of 2013 was poked, prodded and evaluated, offered and locked away well before the end of the 2012 regular season. But this year, programs at nearly every level seem to be pushing the decision clock ahead.
Major D-1 coaches, who just a few years ago would tread lightly when they made a December on-campus visit, no longer are pretending to be out looking at seniors. They have been done with the seniors for months and want the next latest and greatest, including juniors, sophomores and, in some cases, freshmen.
With the recent recruiting rules passed by the NCAA pertaining to unlimited electronic contact of prospects, colleges will offer sooner and kids will commit sooner. As we are seeing this week, players, from a national perspective, also are decommitting at an alarming rate. Could this be a negative effect of offering scholarships and taking oral commitments early? This will be an issue worth keeping an eye on for the next year or two.
Underclassmen receiving early scholarship offers are at an all-time high. Feb. 6, which is national signing day, will be as much about which underclassmen receive offers as it will be about which 2013 players sign letters of intent.
I used to tell kids and parents that if a player hasn't received a scholarship offer by midseason he might want to start worrying and looking at other options. Now, if a player wraps up the summer one-day college camps and don't have an offer, I say start looking at other schools.
Coaching changes will continue to impact recruiting classes. Schools like Syracuse, Western Michigan and Western Illinois all had late coaching changes and have been scrambling to fill up classes.
But too many quality kids sit on the sideline and wait offers that never seem to come.
For too many kids, grades are a major stumbling block.
I've also seen too many kids blow off interest from NAIA to Division III schools. It amazes me how so many people refuse to give the smaller schools chance. Most have money to award, provide a top-notch education and offer a great experience.
For years I've had, at best, a mixed opinion of various pay recruiting services. But the more dealings I have with prospects and parents with recruiting, the more someone needs to be able to educate families.
It seems like every year some parents either think they know more than they do, or they nothing about how to approach the entire process.