The second college football Signing Day came and went on Wednesday in what could be described as a whimper. A lot of the traditional Signing Day action happened the first time around in December when schools inked the majority of their Class of 2018 prospects.
“I think we approached it like a lot of programs across the country and that was the first signing period was going to be the signing period,” Penn State’s James Franklin told the media on Wednesday. “If you look across the country, I think the number was pretty high, like 85 percent of the prospects signed in the first signing period. I think that’s how it’s going to be. Most people were approaching it, if you didn’t sign in the first signing period then you weren’t really committed and they were going to move on. So for us, we really didn’t have a whole lot of question marks out there.”
How scarce was the activity on Wednesday? Big Ten schools signed a combined 309 players over both signing periods—and just 38 came in February. That’s only 12 percent.
Nebraska led the way with 10 signings on Wednesday. Ohio State and Illinois each inked five players. Every school signed at least one player on Wednesday—except for Minnesota, which inked none.
The Buckeyes scored the biggest coups, landing five-star Nick Petit-Frere, who is considered the top offensive tackle in the nation. LB Javonte Jean-Baptiste, DE Tyler Friday and DE Tyreke Smith are all four-stars that OSU landed on Wednesday.
Nebraska secured four-stars in DB Cam’ron Jones, WR Dominick Watt, ATH Miles Jones and LB Caleb Tannor. Purdue also scored a big signature from four-star wideout Rondale Moore, arguably the program’s biggest signee in over a decade.
“I guess the way we look at it, and I think a lot of coaches do, is this January period and February period really turned into almost like spring recruiting,” Franklin said. “So the old days, the head coaches could go out in the spring, and we can’t go out anymore. So for us, we were only waiting on one signature, so we could really spend all our time recruiting essentially one guy, and then the rest of the time, go out in junior recruit, where in the old days, you were having to continue to visit at a high rate, guys that were already committed to you.”
Is there anything to change in the recruiting calendar?
“I don’t think it really should be up to myself or our coaches,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told the media on Wednesday. “It’s — the student-athletes get a chance to go where they want. And I don’t think when we first had conversations about that people would be forced to sign, and maybe not look around and I think that’s what happened. So once again this is all about the student-athlete getting to go where they want to go.”
One idea that has been floated is to allow official visits in the spring. Now, coaches can hit the road in the spring, but they can’t have contact with recruits. Official visits take place in the fall and winter.
“It’s going to be a continuing discussion,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said in his Signing Day press conference. “I think we’re going to — we’ll probably revisit that one, and that will probably be an ongoing discussion and are we sure we’re doing the right thing, see what other people are doing. Like Liar’s Poker, see what everybody is doing here. But our preference would still be to get guys to come in December and have everybody together. I think that’s our preference, but we’ll see.”
Franklin has a strong opinion on potential early visits.
“The area that I probably think there’s a little bit of concern across the country and I know specifically in Happy Valley and there’s some concern and issues is with the early visits,” Franklin said. “I get it and I understand why, and I think you can really make an argument being in the Big Ten country, being able to bring guys here when the campus is warm and Flowers and all those wonderful things, I think you could make that argument. But I also want to make sure that we’re able to spend enough time with our current players and developing them and then also being able to spend time with our own families. I get the early visits. I wish the window was a little bit smaller. I just worry about how that’s all going to play out.”
Following is a school-by-school breakdown of February signees:
- Illinois: 5, LB Jacob Hollins; DL Ezekiel Holmes; QB Matt Robinson; RB Kenyon Sims; QB Coran Taylor
- Indiana: 3, DB Jamar Johnson; DL Jonathan King; LB James Miller
- Iowa: 3, LB Logan Klemp; LB Jayden McDonald; DB Kaevon Merriweather
- Maryland: 1, DB Kenric Montgomery
- Michigan: 3, ATH Michael Bennett; WR Ronnie Bell; DB Vincent Gray
- Michigan State: 1, WR Jalen Nailor
- Minnesota: 0
- Nebraska: 10, OL Willie Canty; DB Braxton Clark; WR Andre Hunt; DB Cam’ron Jones; ATH Miles Jones; DL Casey Rogers; DB CJ Smith; LB Caleb Tannor; DB Cam Taylor; RB Maurice
- Washington; WR Dominick Watt
- Northwestern: 2, CB A.J. Hampton; OL Sam Stovall
- Ohio State: 5, DE Tyler Friday; LB Javonte Jean-Baptiste; WR Chris Olave; OT Nick Petit-Frere; DE Tyreke Smith
- Penn State: 1, OL Rasheed Walker
- Purdue: 2, WR Rondale Moore, LB Jack Smith
- Rutgers: 1, DL Robin Jutvreten
- Wisconsin: 1, DB Rachad Wildgoose