Notebook: 'If you don't sign in December, you're not committed,' says Brian Kelly

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The new early signing period for college football has allowed coaches to draw a line in the recruiting process.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly made his line pretty clear Sunday.

“If you don't sign in December, you're not committed,” Kelly said, “and we'll have to keep recruiting you.”

When the signing period begins on Dec. 20, recruits across the country will get a chance to turn their verbal commitment into a signed National Letter of Intent. The three-day period will serve as the end of the recruiting process for prospects already settled on a decision.

The remaining recruits will have to wait until the traditional first Wednesday in February — Feb. 7 this year — to sign with their future school.

What will that mean for the 18 recruits currently committed to Notre Dame’s 2018 class?

Last month, 15 of those commits told ND Insider that they planned to sign with the Irish in December. Only four Irish pledges expressed uncertainty at the time: running back Markese Stepp, defensive tackle Ja’mion Franklin, wide receiver Geordon Porter and safety Paul Moala.

Stepp backed off his commitment last week. The other three recruits now plan to sign early.

Back in November, Franklin said his decision may depend on the health of his father, who is currently battling acute myeloid leukemia. Now the plan is for Franklin to sign Dec. 20 with his father hoping to get out of the hospital for the signing ceremony.

Porter originally said he was open to signing in December, but he didn’t know what his plan was yet. Last week, he received an in-home visit from Kelly, recruiting coordinator Brian Polian and wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander.

Moala solidified his plans to sign early after receiving a visit from defensive coordinator Mike Elko last week.

The Irish appear to be on track to avoid any December drama with their current commits. They’ve dedicated time during the current contact period to visit with committed recruits to make sure everything is aligned for an early signing. Rivals ranks Notre Dame's current class No. 8 nationally. 247Sports pegs the Irish at No. 9.

“It's busier now,” Kelly said. “What it will do is it will allow us to focus on (2019 recruits) more in January than we've had in the past. We expect, if our players are committed, they'll sign in December. If they're not committed, they won't.”

In January, the contact period starts on Jan. 12 and runs through Feb. 3. During that time, the Irish can visit the schools of 2019 recruits, but they can’t make in-person contact with them. The contact, which includes in-home visits, is limited to the 2018 class.

Gervin picks MSU

Four-star cornerback Kalon Gervin made his second verbal commitment on Saturday. The former Irish pledge has now committed to Michigan State.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound recruit from Detroit Cass Tech was committed to Notre Dame from February to May. He continued to show interest in the Irish with an unofficial visit in September for Notre Dame’s game against Georgia, but he shifted his focus elsewhere in October.

Gervin committed to Michigan State after making official visits to Oklahoma, Nebraska and Oregon.

Rivals ranks Gervin as the No. 14 cornerback in the 2018 class. 247Sports slates him No. 18 at the position.

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly with the team before the Notre Dame at Michigan State NCAA football game Saturday, 23, 2017 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA