College Football Recruiting shut down by Novel Coronavirus
John Garcia, Jr.
We knew it was coming but it's still sobering to lay out.
COVID-19, the novel coronavirus now considered a global pandemic per the World Health Organization, has affected about every element of day to day life. It of course has consumed the sports world this week, too.
Following the cancellation of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments and all winter and spring sports, it was only a matter of time until it would venture into the foundation of successful college athletics programs in any sport -- recruiting.
As of Friday morning, the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 have released statements on pushing back all on and off campus recruiting-related activities until further notice. Over the next month, college football programs coast to coast were set to continue hosting visitors on junior days and during spring practices and/or spring games for the class of 2021 and well beyond.
The Pac-12 has yet to officially halt recruiting activity although multiple reports suggest that move is expected to be announced by the league this weekend.
On Friday afternoon, reports surfaced regarding the NCAA suspending all recruiting activity through April 15. Stadium was first to report. That would eliminate hundreds of planned unofficial visits and dozens of planned official visits over the next month, including those built around college football spring games.
Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi announced the news on social media.
At the local level, the other side of the recruiting industry, has followed suit.
Student Sports, which runs the Elite 11 quarterback competition as well as the DICK'S Sporting Good Combines, have cancelled events through the month of March. Under Armour's All-America Game Camp circuit is also on hold until mid April at the earliest. The entire Rivals Camp Series is postponed until further notice. NFA, a major organizer in the 7-on-7 circuit, did the same ahead of this weekend's Southeast Regional in Bradenton, Fla.
The basketball side has already put top events on ice.
Several football prospects planned not only to compete in some of the aforementioned events, but make trips and ultimately make a verbal commitment during this time.
Agiye Hall, one of the top wide receivers nationally and SI All-American candidate, was to make a trip to LSU before making his decision public between the Tigers, Alabama, Georgia and Arizona State. He announced the intention to push his recruitment back all together Friday.
Amarius Mims, perhaps the top tackle in the class of 2021 and another SI All-American Watch List member, was looking to make a preseason decision. He will attempt to stay on track but his coach, Von Lassiter, isn't optimistic based on how delayed visits to programs far away from the Peach State under consideration -- like Oregon and USC.
The spring is typically a tangibly important recruiting tool for both programs and athletes and now it is going to be limited to technology-based communication and perhaps evaluation. Video chatting such as Facetime, which is already a growing tool in the recruiting game, will soar to new heights.
Decisions from either side figure to be fewer and further in between and it could create a major ripple effect on how the classes of 2021 are shaped from coast to coast.
Optimistically, the silent spring could give way to a summer filled with fireworks as recruiting would resume on every front. National showcase athletic events could pair well with amended contact periods to enable college visits to take place say in the late June through late July window, currently a dead period on the calendar.
Any additional openings on the recruiting front not currently available could make for one of the more exciting and busy build ups to the 2020 season and Early Signing Period window since the ESP was implemented in 2017.