Notebook: Plan for early signing period in recruiting takes shape

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The possibility of an early signing period for college football gained steam Wednesday when the NCAA Division I Council presented a proposal for two, 72-hour early signing periods.

If adopted, the signing periods would open on the last Wednesday in June and in mid-December. College football currently has only one signing period that opens on the first Wednesday in February, known as National Signing Day, and runs through April 1.

The Division I Football Oversight Committee recommended the proposal, which would have to be adopted by the Division I Collegiate Commissioners Association, the governing body in charge of the National Letter of Intent program. If approved, the changes would start in the 2017-18 signing year.

The Collegiate Commissioners Association previously deferred a proposal for a December signing period in June 2015.

“The working group did a deep dive on recruiting from beginning to end, and I think what we came up with as a proposal is both student-athlete-friendly and coach- and staff-friendly,” Bob Bowlsby, chair of the Football Oversight Committee and commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, said in a release from the NCAA. “We hit a sweet spot.”

Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Mike Elston, in August, expressed support for an early signing period. But with it, Elston said, he’d like to see the entire recruiting calendar to be shifted to allow juniors to make official visits, which are paid for by the colleges, and allow coaches to contact recruits earlier.

“I think the NCAA needs to speed up the recruiting calendar,” Elston said. “One of the most compromising positions we’re in is in spring recruiting when they say you can go into the school and do an evaluation. You can’t talk to the kid. You can’t see the kid. You can’t spend time with the kid. You can’t spend time with the parents.

“By July the kids have made their decision. Theoretically, unless they come on your campus you haven’t met with them, haven’t met the parents. It’s really a very challenging situation. I think they need to reboot the whole recruiting calendar and speed it up. An early signing period, an opportunity to official visit earlier (would help).”

The Division I Council also introduced proposals that include changes to the summer camp circuit and football coaching staffs. The camp proposal would limit camps and clinics to 10 nonconsecutive days. The current system allows for camps and clinics during two periods of 15 consecutive days and enabled Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh's satellite camp spree. Another proposal would increase the maximum number of assistant coaches in FBS from nine to 10.

Surgery for Jurkovec

In the middle of accounting for 461 yards of offense in a loss to Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Notre Dame quarterback commit Phil Jurkovec tore a thumb ligament in his right hand. Jurkovec finished the game with a glove on his throwing hand, but this week the injury was deemed severe enough to require surgery.

The 6-foot-5, 202-pound junior at Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland is scheduled for surgery Friday morning, his father said. With eight weeks expected for recuperation, Jurkovec’s season has ended with four games remaining before the playoffs.

Jurkovec fit a season’s worth of production for many quarterbacks into six games to start the year. The four-star recruit completed 104 of his 167 pass attempts (62 percent) for 1,673 yards and 12 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He also rushed 82 times for 481 yards and eight touchdowns.

247Sports slates Jurkovec as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class and No. 9 overall regardless of position. Rivals ranks him as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and No. 57 overall.

Tracking Stepp

Notre Dame running back commit Markese Stepp made a visit to Michigan last weekend for its game against Wisconsin. The 6-foot, 210-pound junior at Indianapolis Cathedral visited with his teammate and friend Emil Ekiyor.

Ekiyor, a four-star offensive guard in the 2018 class, gave the Wolverines his verbal commitment during the trip. Notre Dame has hosted Ekiyor multiple times but has held off on extending him an offer.

Michigan has continued to recruit Stepp despite his pledge to the Irish. The four-star prospect has been sidelined with a hamstring strain in his left leg that he suffered on the first carry of the season, a 46-yard touchdown run.


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Mike Elston, recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach, during Notre Dame football practice on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, at LaBar Practice Field at Notre Dame in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN