High school sports

Baxter: The pros and cons of early signing day option

October 3, 2013 

TRACY GLANTZ — Tracy Glantz/tglantz@thestate.co

Answering the Twitter feed:

Q: I keep hearing about an early signing period for football. Are we going to get an early signing period?

A: I believe that an early signing period for football is inevitable. There is much debate on whether or not we need it, if we did have it then when would it be, etc. But despite the debate, it is eventually going to pass.

Right now, football recruits sign on the first Wednesday in February of their senior year. But in today’s recruiting world, many of the recruits give their “verbal commitment” to a school early, and about 70 percent remain true.

The argument for the early signing period is that it would prevent the colleges from “babysitting” recruits. In other words, when they get a verbal pledge from a player during his junior season, that staff must work to maintain the relationship and “coddle” that recruit to keep another school from taking him.

If they had a signing period of, say, August, which was proposed, they wouldn’t have to worry about that recruit during football season.

There are a couple of problems I see with an early signing day. One, if the boys sign prior to their senior season, there is a concern from high school coaches that some players would “tank it” their senior year or maybe not play at all.

And it would be distracting to the college team and players. We already have a great deal of focus on incoming recruits, and if the prospects are signed in August, I believe it would take some of the attention from the current college players due to the focus of the “future” players of the program.

Regardless of your side of the argument, I’d say prepare for it.

Q: It seems like we have a lot of great players around the state we hear about that don’t get recruited. Why are the colleges not coming after our players in South Carolina?

A: First, let’s assume the players we are talking about meet the physical standards of being a prospect and are not great high school players.

One of the problems S.C. has is that a lot of players do not meet NCAA Div. 1 academic requirements. A factor is South Carolina grades students on a 7-point scale. That is hurting some when it comes to competing for those scholarships because they fall below the NCAA requirements.

Meanwhile, Georgia and Florida are on the 10-point grade scale. Why does that matter?

Let’s say you have to have a 2.5 core GPA to be a qualifier. Let’s say an S.C. student scores an 83 in classes. They finish with a 2.0 GPA.. The Georgia and Florida students who score 83s finish at 3.0.

I believe we need to go to the 10-point grading scale in South Carolina. I’m not saying we need to dummy down our educational system, but we need to make sure our kids are competing on a level playing field.

So why don't we do that? There is a thing called the “Life Scholarship” that is awarded by the state to students who make that 3.0 GPA. More students would qualify for these state scholarships if the criteria was changed.

So I say increase the standards for the Life and go to the 10-point grading scale.

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