There's not a lot happening in terms of actual sports right now, but that hasn't stopped college football recruiting from picking up at warp speed. There's been an incredible number of early commitments being made. According to USA Today, earlier this week more than 600 prospects in the class of 2021 have verbally committed to FBS programs.
That doubles the number of commitments at this point a year ago and exceeds the combined total at this point from the past two recruiting cycles. What's going on here?
I think it's pretty clear that there's a bit of panic-buying going on from athletes who are concerned that their scholarship spots may not be open. Economic uncertainty, the inability to go and take visits, and probably some coaches who are telling them, "Hey, your spots open now, but it may not be open later. You might want to jump on it when you can."
What we've seen just in this flood of commitments is nontraditional powers raking in a lot of very good players. We've seen Iowa, Tennessee, North Carolina rising to the top or near the top of recruiting rankings.
What will this mean come actual signing day in December and then in February? If we're seeing a record number of commitments we're probably going to see a record number of de-commitments. As players get a chance to breathe, get a chance to take visits, look around, and reconsider their options. Football recruiting is notoriously fickle in terms of people de-committing and changing their minds late in the game. We're going to see even more of that than usual.
I wouldn't be surprised if we see the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee, which controls when letters of intent can be signed, extend the period for the class of 2021. They already have extended the 2020 spring signing period. I also wouldn't be surprised if the traditional February period is pushed back or just extended well into that second semester. We could see recruiting flash back to the old, old days when seniors are making decisions in spring of their senior year. But for now, there's been an absolute stampede to commit. We'll see how long those commitments last.