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What is the Early Signing Period? And, what does it mean for Ohio State?

For the first time, college football recruits will have a chance to sign their LOIs in late-December.

Terrelle Pryor Announces College Decision Photo by Charles LeClaire/Getty Images

The NCAA changed some rules earlier in 2017, one result was an early signing period for college football recruits. Now, incoming players have a three-day window between Dec. 20-22 to sign their National Letters of Intent to the program of their choice, ahead of the traditional National Signing Day on the first Wednesday in February.

Programs are expecting up to 80% of their incoming freshman class to sign their LOIs during the early signing period, officially ending their recruitment and building an early picture of what teams will look like next fall.

How does the early signing period work?

The new three-day window will be similar to National Signing Day. Prospects will sign their National Letters of Intent and will fax them in to Ohio State, who will then announce them throughout the day. (I still can’t get over that in 2017, we’re still using fax machines to send LOIs, but here we are.)

How does the early signing period affect recruiting

Losing over a month of recruiting time hurries things up for the Buckeye coaching staff, who, in addition to the early signing period, are also focused on preparing for the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29.

Immediately following Ohio State’s Big Ten Championship win, the coaching staff hit the recruiting trail, planting flags in Georgia, Florida, and up and down the East Coast. Urban Meyer met with four-star DT Tommy Togiai who would end up committing with less than a week before being able to sign his papers.

Fortunately, unlike several other programs (cc: Tennessee and Florida State), Ohio State hasn’t had to worry about filling coaching spots while also trying to formalize a 2018 recruiting class. The instability among some of the top FBS programs gives the Buckeyes an extra advantage with some players still on the fence.

Who does Ohio State expect to sign early?

The Buckeyes are expecting about 17 players to sign their National Letters of Intent during the three-day early signing period, including recent commits like Kamryn Babb and Tommy Togiai.

Ohio State was still expecting to receive a signed LOI from QB Emory Jones, who has been taking high-profile visits to other programs (most notably to Alabama and this past weekend to the University of Florida) after making his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes in 2016. Since his trip to Gainesville, however, it seems less likely Jones winds up playing in the Scarlet and Grey.

The group of expected early signers is deep at the defensive tackle position (3) and at linebacker (2), plus two additions to the offensive line. There’s also a smattering of skill positions that’ll be filled with the incoming freshmen, including one or two players with the potential to be the next true-freshman phenom for the Buckeyes.

Expected Early Signing Period Signees

Player Position Height Weight Commitment News
Player Position Height Weight Commitment News
Kamryn Babb WR 6-1 189 Committed 12/12/17
Matthew Baldwin PRO 6-2.5 195 Committed 12/7/17
Sevyn Banks CB 6-1 180 Committed 4/26/17
Dallas Gant OLB 6-3 225 Committed 5/16/17
Jaelen Gill APB 6-1 182 Committed 3/1/17
Antwuan Jackson Jr. DT 6-2.25 305 Committed 9/12/17
Tyreke Johnson S 6-1 191 Committed 12/5/17
Matthew Jones OG 6-4 300 Committed 7/17/17
Teradja Mitchell ILB 6-2 232 Committed 6/2/17
K'Vaughan Pope ATH 6-2 210 Committed 8/4/17
Jeremy Ruckert TE 6-5.5 238 Committed 7/17/17
L'Christian Smith WR 6-6 205 Committed 8/27/17
Master Teague RB 5-11 210 Committed 6/11/17
Tommy Togiai DT 6-3 290 Committed 12/12/17
Taron Vincent DT 6-2 285 Committed 4/2/17
Max Wray OT 6-6.5 289 Committed 4/15/17

Are any Ohio State targets waiting for National Signing Day?

Yes. There are a few players who are expected to wait another month and a half before making their official decision. Still expected to land with Ohio State, legacy CB Marcus Hooker (Malik Hooker’s brother) and RB Brian Snead are expected to wait to put pen to paper in early-February.

There are many reasons why a player might wait another month before signing their LOIs, from wanting to take a few extra visits to trying to see how they might fit into the incoming class once the rosters are more complete.

How can you keep up with Ohio State’s latest 2018 pledges?

Land-Grant Holy Land will have profiles on everyone who signs during the three-day period, all conveniently located in one place.

The Big Ten Network will also be covering the early signing period, beginning Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 9 a.m. ET.