For those senior athletes in the recruiting process, today is a big day! Today marks the beginning of the early signing period for many NCAA sports. That means that recruits who have been offered scholarships or who have verbally committed to a school are allowed to officially sign their National Letter of Intent (NLI). Once athletes sign an NLI, they are committed to that school and have agreed to attend.
The early signing period begins today, November 14, and goes until next Wednesday, November 21. Athletes are given this designated signing period to officially select their school and end their recruiting process. For many recruits, the early signing period is a huge relief since they can make their final decision and end the chaos of the recruiting process. However, this early signing period does not apply to you if you participate in football, field hockey, soccer, track & field, cross country, or men’s water polo. This early signing period is for basketball and all other sports not listed above.
Can You Use the Early Signing Period?
High school senior athletes who have been heavily involved in the recruiting process know from experience the time, effort, and dedication it has taken to be offered a scholarship. There are a couple of benefits to using the early signing period if you are able to:
- Ends your recruiting: Once an athlete signs an NLI, they can no longer be recruited by other schools. This means they don’t have to worry about all the work that went into finding a scholarship. They have more time to focus on their senior season and final year in high school.
- Secures roster spot: if you sign in the early period, you know that you have a position on a college sports team as early as November of your senior year. You won’t have to worry about your spot being offered and taken by another recruit.
Signing in the fall really caters to the athletes who have been very involved in the recruiting process. That means they have taken their time, done the research, contacted coaches, went on official and unofficial visits, and have been accepted to the colleges of their choice. These are the athletes who are more ready to make such a big decision.
If your recruiting process started late or you haven’t put in the work you should have, you are probably not ready to make a decision in the fall. There should be no rush to sign your NLI if you are not ready to. College coaches put the pressure on their recruits to sign early because it makes their job easier. The sooner they can finalize their roster, then the more they can focus on their current student-athletes. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision if you are not ready. You do run the risk of your scholarship being given to someone else, but you don’t want to make the wrong choice either.
What the Early Signing Period Means to You
If you haven’t had an offer or you are not ready to sign this week, it’s okay. There is another signing period in Spring. Take this time to get involved in the recruiting process: really get to know coaches and their schools; do research, make visits, and ask questions. As a senior, your last chance to secure an available scholarship with a college is the regular signing period, so use your time wisely.
If you have gone through the process as much as you can, and are ready to make your decision, then congrats! Your hard work and dedication to find an opportunity on a college team has paid off. You took control of your recruiting process and earned an athletic scholarship that will allow you to compete and earn a degree. You should be proud! Now you can be relieved of your recruiting process duties and focus on the rest of your senior year.