NCAA Approves Multiple Recruiting Reforms Including a 10th Assistant and Earlier Official Visits

By Nick Polak on April 14, 2017 at 12:59p
Dec 6, 2015; Grapevine, TX, USA; The college football playoff selection committee deliberates on Selection Day at the Gaylord Texan Hotel.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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The annual meeting of the NCAA Division I Council occurred on Friday, the results of which are set to have a huge impact on the college football world moving forward. The numerous rule changes will cause a reshaping of the landscape of recruiting. We'll go through each of the new rules and explain how they may end up impacting Penn State going forward.


The addition of a 10th full-time assistant coach

This is the change that will have the most immediate impact on Penn State. As of right now, Charles Huff serves as both the running backs coach and the special teams coach. Though he's done an excellent job with the running backs and the special teams took a huge step forward in 2016, there's no denying that the team would benefit from Huff being able to focus on one of those areas, as would any coach.

Expect to see James Franklin find someone to fill one of those roles, in order to allow Huff to focus all of his energy in one area, though it's also possible that they find a coach of another position and do some reshuffling of responsibilities.

Obviously this will have a significant impact on recruiting efforts as well. Not only will there be another body to get out on the road, the addition is also intended to reduce the amount of time a coach is away from home by spreading the workload amongst a larger group.

Restrictions on hiring individuals associated with recruits

This change seems to be the most divisive among collegiate coaches, already drawing ire from multiple big names in the sport. The rule will restrict college programs from hiring high school coaches or relatives of recruits for non-coaching positions for the two years before a prospect enrolls at a school, and the two years after enrollment.

According to friend of the blog Chris Vannini over at Coachingsearch.com, coaches such as Gus Malzahn, Chad Morris and Nick Saban are extremely unhappy with this new rule. Malzahn's frustration is valid, as he has hired multiple high school coaches in the past and began as one himself. It's a little tougher to empathize with Saban, however, who is known for hiring numerous consultants, which is something he can no longer do to gain any recruiting advantages.

Michigan recently benefitted from a lack of this rule, when it hired former Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge as Director of Player Personnel in Recruiting in 2015 (he's now the linebackers coach). Partridge played an integral role in earning a commitment from his former player and No. 1 recruit in the country, Rashan Gary. Had this rule been in place, Michigan would have had to choose between Partridge and Gary (though they wouldn't have been allowed to hire Partridge in the first place thanks to Paramus Catholic alumnus Jabrill Peppers).

The caveat to the rule is that schools may still hire high school coaches as position coaches, and don't have to worry about this rule affecting them. So while many college coaches will voice displeasure, this rule effectively does away with college programs giving high school coaches small roles that can easily be taken away, just to land a recruit or two.

Recruiting classes are now limited to 25 players. Period.

No longer may schools recruit more than 25 players and get away with it thanks to grayshirting. This doesn't really impact Penn State, especially since they've been very cognizant of class sizes while simultaneously rebuilding and rebalancing their roster. For other schools in the conference, though, this will call for some changes in recruiting strategy (Hi, Jim).

Early signing day period and early official visits

Here's the big one, the one that has made the most headlines over the past year or so. If it is approved by the Collegiate Commissioners Association in June (as expected), there will be a 72-hour signing period in December, in which prospects will have the opportunity to officially sign with their school and end their recruiting process. This will coincide with the December signing period for JUCO players.

Anyone expecting to see Penn State receive 15 letters of intent in December, however, is foolish. Despite how "sold" a prospect may be on a school, it would be unwise to expect too many to take advantage of this new rule, given how much can change for a college football program between December and February.

In fact, the programs that will benefit the most from this will be the lower-ranked programs. Lower-ranked recruits will start to be forced whether or not to bet on themselves for the final two months of their recruiting cycles. Smaller schools will have a bit more leverage on their side, as they can start telling recruits that if they want a guaranteed spot in the class, they need to think about taking advantage of the early signing period. Numerous players every year earn late offers from bigger programs, and potentially even their dream schools, but it now becomes more of a gamble to wait for said offers. For any individual, their fallback schools may be full by the time they're done waiting out their dream school.

Hand-in-hand with this proposed early signing period is the ability of recruits to now take official visits from April of their junior year through late-June of the same year. This will be welcomed by schools like Penn State, which can oftentimes struggle to get unofficial visits from distant prospects that need to get to Happy Valley on their own dime. Now, those same players can take one of their official visits during this period, and have the costs covered by the school.

As for how this will affect Penn State, it's hard to say just yet. One possible effect for the Nittany Lions and all upper-tier programs, however, is taking more chances and sending out earlier offers than in the past. Some notable players who have earned offers from Penn State in the final hour over the past few recruiting cycles are defensive end Torrence Brown, cornerback Christian Campbell, and defensive tackle Corey Bolds. Had this new signing day been in place previously, it's possible that all of those players would have jumped on the first offers they received.

Camp Limits

This one is not a surprise given the press so-called satellite camps have garnered over the previous few summers. Starting now, schools are limited to camps over just 10 days, and those must fall in the month of June, or any week which includes June. For example, if May 30 falls in a week that ends in June, you are good to go. 

Additionally, these camps must be held on college campuses, as opposed to, let's say, Paramus Catholic or IMG Academy (Harbaugh!!!!!!).

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