There’s a new, early signing period in college football that’s throwing a wrench into the bowl season.
Six bowl games will take place before the new early signing period, which runs Dec. 20-22. The rest of the bowls, including Arizona’s Foster Farms Bowl game against Purdue, take place after the signing period.
What does it all mean? Arizona’s coaches will have to handle recruiting, official (and unofficial) visits and in-home visits, all while preparing for the Dec. 27 game at Levi’s Stadium.
“It’ll be a learning experience for more than just us,” UA safeties coach Jahmile Addae said in August. “It’s going to be different. We welcome it. It allows you to get in what you need in the program, or at least get what you’re going to get in your program and then from there you can go back to the drawing board, see what there is and then maybe your board looks a little different than it did before the first signing day.”
When Addae spoke, Arizona only had a few players committed to its 2018 class, the first one that will incorporate the early signing day. There will still be the traditional signing period in February, too. Arizona currently has 20 players committed for 2018.
Most coaches have been approaching this month’s signing period as the signing period.
UA coach Rich Rodriguez predicted that 70 percent of recruits would sign in December as opposed to February. That means Arizona expects as many as 14 of its 20 committed players to sign in December.
Who might be the outliers who wait? There are a few candidates.
Much of Arizona’s recruiting class is filled with under-the-radar recruits without many scholarship offers, such as running back Darrius Smith, receiver Jailen Bailey and receiver Thomas Marcus. Most of those seem likely to sign early, as does three-star defensive tackle Mykee Irving, who intends to enroll at Arizona in January.
Local product Jamarye Joiner, a three-star-rated player from Cienega High School, is the lone quarterback in Arizona’s 2018 class and, as such, an important piece. Recently, Joiner told the Arizona Republic that he considered flipping his commitment to Arizona State until coach Todd Graham was fired.
Joiner committed to the Wildcats in part because coaches said he could play quarterback in college, while most other programs see him as an athlete. If those programs change their tune, Arizona will battle to keep him.
Offensive line coach Jim Michalczik recently left Arizona for a job at Oregon State, meaning offensive line commits David Watson and Donovan Laie are worth monitoring. Watson has an offer from San Diego State, and told the Star that Michalczik’s departure has raised some questions about his commitment. He had planned to enroll at UA in January.
Laie is still committed to Arizona, but will be keeping a close eye on what the UA does going forward. Laie and his family also have a close relationship with UA grad assistant Davy Gnodle. If Gnodle is not retained, Laie could reconsider.
Adam Plant was just bumped up to a four-star rating by Rivals.com and has already decommitted from Arizona once before as he was receiving interest from some elite programs. He holds other offers from USC, Oregon and Penn State. If Plant, a star at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, starts receiving heavier interest from those schools, or others, things could change again.