If East Carolina plays in the 2017 St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 21 — the second day of the new early signing period — they have no concern about putting the finishing touches on the first phase of their 2018 recruiting class.
In April, the NCAA Division 1 Council approved a December early signing period for football but needed the approval of the Collegiate Commissioners Association — who oversees the National Letter of Intent program — before it became official. That approval came this week, therefore college football recruits will be able to sign their letter of intent during a 72-hours period from Dec. 20-22 instead of waiting until February if they wish.
The period falls in the middle of the 2017-18 bowl schedule. And three games are scheduled between Dec. 20-22, including one with an American Athletic Conference affiliation, the St. Petersburg Bowl. Four other bowl games with AAC affiliations are within four days of the period.
Along with coaching changes and possible pulled offers, could an overlapping schedule be an issue for participating teams? Nope, says Terrell Smith, East Carolina's assistant athletics director for football operations.
“With technology today, especially in the communications sector, we don’t have any concerns about logistical or operational issues involving an early signing day and bowl participation," Smith told HERO Sports. "We live in a world which effectively functions remotely and we would apply that approach to this particular event.”
Brian Perroni, recruiting analyst for 247Sports, also said he's not concerned with the coinciding bowl schedule negatively impacting recruiting, particularly the early signing period.
"Even during bowl prep in years past, coaches have still work the phones and done their best to keep up with the recruits since it is getting down to crunch time," Perroni told HERO Sports. "I imagine that most prospects that sign early will have had their minds made up for some time already. The ones that still need babysitting or to be recruited heavily won't sign until February, so I don't see the bowl games affecting them."
East Carolina has four verbal commits in their 2018 class, including Holton Ahlers, a three-star quarterback (247Sports) from nearby D.H. Conley High School in Greenville who picked the Pirates over North Carolina State, Oregon State and others. Ahlers and the other three commits have not said publicly if they intend to sign in December.