Time was, the first Wednesday in February was one of the most exciting days in the life of a high school football players who was a college prospect.
There used to be some intrigue and anxiety about where these standout student-athletes were headed to continue their careers and conclude a vigorous recruiting experience. Some held out right up until the 11th hour, dressed in their finest suits and held press conferences with ball caps hidden before the athlete selected one and placed it on their head.
Things have changed. Recruiting is big business now. There are several websites devoted and commit great expenses to cover college prospect camps, evaluating talent on their own, and delivering up to the minute updates on where these stars of the future are headed. It’s also a race to reveal and announce each player’s decision. Now, those athletes, after all their visits get welcome posters in the school’s team jersey on social media. These are actual teenage celebrities with mass followings across the country.
Because of these year-round showcases, the often maligned 7-on-7 camps and tournaments, and the army of analysts who collect all of the data on these kids from their wingspan to their 40-yard dash time, the evaluation process begins early. Underclassmen are coveted. And many of these combine reports are filed, submitted and dated during the offseason.
Capitalizing on the popularity of this fad, the NCAA created an early signing period. It’s a three-day long stretch of the calendar, this year running from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22. It’s an early Christmas present to college coaching staffs who work tirelessly as salesmen to sell their school, their campus, their program and their facilities. The addition took some of the luster away from the more traditional National Letter of Intent Signing Day in February. All of that being said, this remains, for those who did not commit early, is a monumental day of achievement. Any high school athlete who has dedicated and committed themselves to academics and athletics has also made sacrifices to reach this day when they can sign their letter of intent they hope will end with a degree, a rewarding career and bright future.
Some players from the Lackawanna Football Conference took advantage of the December period. Others made their commitments official, but because of the winter storm that blanketed NEPA and forced schools to close, they were unable to hold the signing day ceremonies that are the highlight of the day. Still, this was a day to celebrate these players and their accomplishments.
Here is a rundown of the commitments from the LFC including those that came in December: