National Signing Day is early and no one really loves it whole-heartedly. The old February day still exists and has its own issues but all the coaches understood those issues and had a plan for working to mitigate them. This December date has teams scrambling and splitting time between bowl prep and recruiting.
The North Texas staff spent one weekend of the three available out recruiting and the other two preparing for post season games. Seth Littrell told the school’s website he would not trade the postseason games for more recruiting time.
“It’s a positive and a negative,” Littrell said of the early signing period. “You’re playing a championship game that first week of recruiting and you come back and get one week, and if you have an early bowl, you pretty much get one weekend before signing day.
“You’re still trying to prep for a bowl and recruit,” Littrell added. “But, they set the rules and we live by them. I can’t sit and worry about it. Do I love it? No. But would I trade it for playing in championship game and a great bowl? Not a chance.”
That is, of course, what we expect him to say. Still, it is good he said that.
Meanwhile teams like La Tech and SMU, perennial opponents for NT, have to ink the next class right before playing a bowl game.
This whole thing is pretty terrible, all things considered.
The idea was to ease the recruiting burden on coaches and the athletes by letting those who had made their decision sign early. Instead, it is putting pressure on the athletes to make a decision they are not necessarily comfortable with.
There will be recruiting winners, as some enterprising coach finds the best way to game these new rules, just as there were coaches who figured out the best strategy under the old ones.
Some teams liked to poach recruits late, and made a living doing so. That will not be as viable and option this time. Or will it? Really, the best recruits have the most leverage no matter the system. Coaches can threaten to keep close up recruiting and fill their class, but most will leave one or two spots open just in case that 5-star guy decides to wear their colors.
As always, the other guys will hurt.
North Texas has the benefit of being in Year Two of Littrell’s coaching era and having a longer period to identify and contact recruits. The key will be in winning battles that otherwise had not happened previously.
The good news is that at least one talented player announced publicly and others are hinting extra heavily. The general expectation is that NT will have three three-star safeties to fill in for the departing KiShawn McClain and other senior DBs.
Still, that position was a strength for NT the last couple of years, and Seth Littrell was able to find some late additions in Eric Jenkins and Kemon Hall who have contributed really well. The real hit will be in the DT/DL/ILB positions.
You might also think of that as right through the middle.
Elsewhere, Seth Littrell will add more QBs, as he has promised to do every year. Jason Bean and Kason Martin are expected to join, providing some depth behind Mason Fine, Cade Pearson, and Quinn Shanbour (RS JR).
WR Austin Ogunmakin is expected to sign. NT is losing Turner Smiley at that position. At RB, Deandre Torrey is the most recent splash. He’s a guy that has speed and quickness. His signing indicates North Texas does not prefer the big, Troy-like backs, but the undersized ones with shimmy.
This is often the case with Air Raid teams.
Overall, this class is not so far behind the rest of the league. FAU is clearly the best team in the conference and no haul is going to put NT on par with that team overnight, but getting one recruiting class better is the goal.
MGN will be posting all throughout NSD – December edition.