College football’s early signing period is four years into its existence. So far, Dabo Swinney doesn’t have many complaints about it.
Clemson’s coach just wishes it was even earlier.
During a recent interview with 247Sports analyst Carl Reed, Swinney said he’d like to see the early signing period move to August. Since the sport’s additional signing period was added to the recruiting calendar in 2017, it’s been held in December.
“I always felt like if we moved it to August, it would protect the kids,” Swinney said.
Specifically, Swinney opined it would force coaches to get serious about the prospects they want to sign by making them hand out committable scholarship offers earlier. Swinney said signing a National Letter of Intent before the college football season begins would also ensure a recruit’s spot on the roster at that school even if a coaching change happened during or immediately after the season.
“We all know the stories,” Swinney said. “These kids are committed, they’ve been committed, they want to sign in December. Well, a new coach comes in or the current coach and (his staff), they just decide they’ve got somebody better. And they tell that kid, ‘Hey, sorry, you’ve got to go somewhere else in the 11th hour.’ Or you’ve got to grayshirt or whatever it is. I think this would cut that out.”
Swinney said a preseason signing period could also benefit coaches. At the high school level, Swinney believes getting prospects signed earlier would help coaches eliminate some of the distractions that come with the recruiting process for some of their players, including college visits during the season.
“The kids can be committed to their team, they can go play and they don’t have to worry about injury or anything because they’ve signed their college scholarship,” Swinney said. And they’re not gone on the weekends. They can be locked into their senior year, but I think they have to be protected.”
It could also help college coaches hold on to their jobs longer, Swinney said.
“Instead of firing these coaches in the middle of the season, maybe that (athletic director) says, ‘Hey, he’s got a good class coming in August. You know what, if we fire this guy, these guys are free to go wherever. Maybe we give him another year.’ I think that part of it would be good. It would be a win-win on all levels, in my opinion.”
Swinney said he’s proposed an August signing period to other ACC coaches, but the idea has yet to get much traction. Clemson signed 12 players during last year’s early signing period, 10 of which will go through spring practice as mid-year enrollees.
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