More High School Players Keeping Options Open
Lafferty, Tricia, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
SAN ANTONIO -- All-American guard Josh Jenkins knew last October where he wanted to play college football.
Or so he thought.
A year after the Parkersburg (W.Va.) native verbally committed to West Virginia during his junior season, he had a change of heart.
Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Jenkins decommitted last week. Fortunately for Pitt, he reopened his recruitment, making the Panthers one of his options.
Jenkins, who was concerned when former WVU coach Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan, was not bound by anything other than his word. He hadn't signed a letter of intent, which is nearly the only sure thing in college football recruiting. More than 100 high school prospects broke their verbal commitments last February and signed with a different college on National Letter of Intent Day, according to ESPN.com.
"I think what happens is, kids say, 'Let's get this out of the way so I have somewhere to go,'" Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. "They're locked up, and then they open it back up when the season is over. They are doing what coaches are doing. You can't blame the kids for keeping their options open."
As verbal commitments become increasingly meaningless, signing day -- Feb. 6 this year -- becomes more important. The question remains, however:
Would it benefit everyone involved -- players, coaches and parents -- to implement an early signing period, in addition to the traditional February signing date? NCAA basketball, for instance, has an early signing period in November, followed by the regular signing day on April 16.
"There are pros and cons each way," Bradley said. "Sometimes I feel strongly one way, and sometimes I feel strongly another way. There are a lot of other things to be considered. During our season, we don't want agents driving our kids nuts, and I'm sure high school coaches don't want us driving their kids nuts. There's so many more things than football you have to consider."
Coaches from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 endorsed an early signing period, which probably would take place in December, but the Pac-10 shot down the proposal, according to ESPN.com. The proposal has not been seriously considered by the NCAA, according to Dennie Poppe, the NCAA's managing director of football.
"To my knowledge, an early signing date in football has not been considered by the membership," Poppe said, in an e-mail to the Tribune-Review. "However, the NCAA Football Issues Committee has had discussions in recent years with the American Football Coaches Association. …