The competitive nature of recruiting has pushed the evaluation and pursuit calendar irretrievably back in recent years, to the point a prospect’s junior season – not his senior year -- is the most significant in his development.
Texas, arguably the pioneer of the early commitment trend, owns four pledges within the nation's top 50 prospects, including offensive tackle Kent Perkins (Lake Highlands/Dallas).
Not so long ago, the spring evaluation period – which began this week – used to be the time college coaches gathered their pool of offer candidates and targets. Now it is as much a span to again be seen by their established targets … at least, the ones who haven’t committed.
A rundown of some compelling numbers behind the trend this cycle:
Members of the Top247 who have already pledged a school.
National Signing Day will always remain significant because of the high-profile prospects who have the leverage to hold off on making a decision and/or want to maximize suspense.
That, and the fact that so many early commitments invariably leads to an increase in decommitments and flips, especially toward the real decision deadline.
But it’s worth noting that 24 of the nation’s top 47 prospects have already claimed to have picked their college destination.
So expediting the process has grown increasingly important for both school (which can sell momentum on the trail) as well as the prospect, who has been forced to deal with the escalating pressures of the recruiting process (namely media requests and peer pressure).
Four-star tight end Marcus Baugh (John M. North/Riverside), an Ohio State pledge, is one of the few California kids to have made a decision.
To pull one sample, the current SEC institutions have 82 commitments in the fold.
Last year, SEC programs signed 274 prospects.
So, in theory, the league has already taken care of roughly 30 percent of its anticipated haul.
People from California, and the West Coast in general, carry a reputation for having laid-back personalities.
Well, that apparently translates into not being in any rush to choose a college, either.
The five states that produce the most football signees are, in order, Texas, Florida, California, Georgia and Ohio.
To date, Texas has yielded 40 early commitments, per the 247Sports database, followed closely as expected by Florida’s 35.
Georgia has 29 and Ohio 22.
California … 9.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that nine of the top 10 in Texas and eight of the top 10 in Ohio have already selected – attributable, in our estimation, to the high level of recruiting competition between the powerhouse programs in those areas.
In California – where USC is king – only eight of the top 100 have picked.
It’s a compelling debate whether a college team’s ceiling is defined by its quarterback play.
But that’s obviously the value position where demand exceeds supply. And the offensive decision-makers are interestingly the ones rendering the earliest decisions.
Thirteen of 22 quarterbacks (59.1 percent) with a four-star billing or higher by 247Sports have already given commitments.
That’s the highest percentage among any position group.
Here’s the breakdown under those criteria:
QBs: 59.1 percent (13 of 22)
OTs: 54.8 (23 of 42)
ATHs: 53.9 (14 of 26)
LBs: 50.0 (18 of 36)
DBs: 36.7 (16 of 44)
RBs: 32.4 (11 of 34)
WRs: 31.0 (13 of 42)
DTs: 30.0 (6 of 20)
DEs: 20.7 (6 of 29)