This year, the NCAA opened up an early signing period for college football — and it began today and will last three days. The two teams (James Madison and North Dakota State) playing in the national championship in two weeks, along with the rest of the FCS, have taken full advantage of the new period. Ultimately, this early signing period should benefit the FCS, while others like Alabama coach Nick Saban despise it.
The two teams heading to Frisco in two weeks combined to sign 37 players (full list of signees below) on Wednesday. Not too shabby for two staffs busy preparing for a national title game.
[divider]MORE: Compare Any Two FCS Players or Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
LISTEN: Brian McLaughlin and James Madison expert Michael Evangelista talk JMU's early signing class[divider]
Why will FCS coaches love it and Saban hate it? Because for those kids who are dead serious about coming to an FCS campus, they can get the craziness over with now and enjoy the holidays. In the past, all players would sign the first Wednesday in February and Power Conference schools might swoop in in the 11th hour when they didn't get who they wanted originally and poach top FCS recruits that staffs had worked on for months.
Those 'poachings' won't end entirely, but this will cut down on much of it.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In February, when the final signing period begins, HERO Sports will have its annual FCS recruiting rankings for teams and individuals.[divider]
HERO Sports caught up with some of the top JMU and NDSU prospects who signed today:
CHRIS CHUKWUNEKE — 2-star DB with offers from UConn out of high school, along with many in the CAA: "When I got onto campus I just knew in my heart wanted to be there. The atmosphere of the college was electric and you pair that with a Top 50 business school and I knew it was the choice for me."
PHOENIX SPROLES — 3-star WR with offers from Air Force, Northern Illinois and many MVFC and Ivy League teams: "I can’t wait to join the winning culture of the Bison and to bring a national championship to Fargo for the next four years. I’ve had two teammates that went to NDSU, my sister goes there, and Carson Wentz plays with my cousin Darren Sproles (for the Philadelphia Eagles) so NDSU was everywhere. And I want to win rings."
WILLIE DREW — 2-star DB with offers from Virginia, Marshall, Temple and many more: "I love everything about JMU. It’s a great program to grow and become a great man in. I’m looking forward to seeing the field freshman year and also building a stronger relationship with the coaches than what we already have."
TREY LANCE — 3-star QB with offers from Air Force, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and many MVFC teams: "I’d say when I received the offer, it definitely stood out, not only because of the program, but just meeting with Coach Klieman and hearing how they have laid out a plan for me. But once May came around, the night before I committed I was just thinking about the whole process, and just kind of came to the point of thinking, 'What am I waiting for?'. With Easton (Stick) and Carson (Wentz), (I was impressed by) just seeing how they have been developed by the coaches. I’ve never met Carson, but knowing Easton, just seeing how he carries himself on and off the field makes him a huge role model and someone I want to be like."
REGGIE BROWN — 3-star WR with offers from South Dakota and Campbell: "The No. 1 thing that stuck out to me was the coaches, because I feel having that chemistry with the coaches is one of the main factors. And when I went on my official visit, that really sealed the deal for me. The coaches made me and my family feel like that James Madison is truly my second home other then my home back in Lakeland, Florida. And the environment on game day is just crazy. The fan support out there is real, and that's something I want to experience and be a part of for the next four years at JMU.."
NORTH DAKOTA STATE EARLY SIGNEES
|ATH||Saybein Clark||Sioux City, IA||6'1"||195|
|DT||Brendan Cook||Libertyville, IL||6'4"||235|
|ATH||Jackson Enz||Walworth, WI||6'1"||185|
|DT||Dylan Evans||Williston, ND||6'3"||245|
|DE||Jaydn Ewing||Watford City, ND||6'3"||230|
|RB||Ben Hoggarth||Horace, ND||5'10"||195|
|ATH||James Kaczor||Saint Cloud, MN||6'0"||185|
|DB||Mitchell Kartes||Albertville, MN||6'0"||185|
|LB||Jake Kava||Fargo, ND||6'2"||210|
|OL||Jake Kubas||Dickinson, ND||6'4"||250|
|QB||Trey Lance||Marshall, MN||6'4"||195|
|FB||Hunter Luepke||Spencer, WI||6'1"||225|
|DE||Samuel Moore||Verndale, MN||6'5"||230|
|OG||Bryan Nohava||Le Mars, IA||6'5"||265|
|DE||Bartholowmew Ogbu||Bismarck, ND||6'6"||205|
|DE||Tony Pierce||Auburndale, FL||6'2"||220|
|LB||Jayden Price||Mulvane, KS||6'0"||175|
|OL||Joe Schreiber||Eden Prairie, MN||6'3"||285|
|WR||Phoenix Sproles||Robbinsdale, MN||6'0"||175|
|TE||Trae Steckler||Mandan, ND||6'3"||210|
|RB||D.J. Stewart||Kimberly, WI||5'11"||180|
|LB||Mark Stumpf||Bismarck, ND||6'2"||195|
|OT||Jalen Sundell||Maryville, MO||6'5"||250|
|WR||Destin Talbert||Hinsdale, IL||6'1"||165|
JAMES MADISON EARLY SIGNEES
|WR||Reggie Brown||Lakeland, FL||6'1"||175|
|DB||Chris Chukwuneke||Edison, NJ||5'11"||185|
|DB||Jamari Currence||Rock Hill, SC||5'10"||170|
|DB||Willie Drew||Smithfield, VA||6'1"||180|
|LB||Mateo Jackson||Richmond, VA||6'2"||215|
|OL||Nick Kidwell||Boonsboro, MD||6'5"||310|
|DB||Hayden Mann||Mebane, NC||6'4"||190|
|OL||Amelio Moran||Virginia Beach, VA||6'6"||300|
|TE||Drew Painter||Hershey, PA||6'4"||240|
|WR||Devin Ravenel||Stafford, VA||6'0"||150|
|OL||Henry Schroeder||Richmond, VA||6'4"||275|
|LB||Matt Terrell||Lynchburg, VA||6'4"||245|
|PK||Camden Wise||Blacksburg, VA||6'0"||160|