NCAA power brokers will meet once more Wednesday to revisit their current plan for recruiting and team activities in college football. At the moment, the sport’s governing body has left the team-related activities to the individual schools and conferences. For recruiting, though, they’ve taken unprecedented steps that have altered the landscape – and it’s only just the beginning.
Back in March, the NCAA declared that all in-person recruiting would be banned for the foreseeable future. That embargo was originally set to the end of April, then extended through the end of May. That meant that no recruits could visit schools this spring, nor could coaches hit the road to visit and evaluate recruits the last two months. That’s a blow not just to the schools, but to thousands of recruits around the nation.
Prospects use their spring to unofficially visit many of their top schools and narrow down their recruitment. In many cases, it gives them an opportunity to move ahead and make their college decisions. The recruits are able to see the coaches in action at practices, learning about their coaching style, and even get to talk with some of the current players to get “the real scoop.” As for an environment, if they haven’t already taken in a game in the fall, a spring game can give them a relatively good idea of how rabid the fan base and what it would be like to play at that school.
Around mid-April, those spring games mark the end of unofficial visits for these kids. Then, the coaching staffs turn around and visit them – and their younger counterparts. From mid-April to the end of May is usually what is known as the “evaluation period.” Assistant coaches scatter all across the country to watch players go through workouts, participate in spring practice, and even get their transcripts.
It’s during this six-week period that thousands among thousands of new offers are extended. This evaluation period is as important to rising sophomores and juniors as any six weeks during their high school career, at least as far as securing a new offer.
All of that’s gone now, and there’s no telling when it might come back. West Virginia University, like many schools, has canceled recruiting camps through the end of June. Other programs have already canceled them for the entire summer. Those are more opportunities for coaches to evaluate and extend new offers.
There’s one catch: recruiting camps are canceled, but in-person recruiting should open back up, allowing for unofficial or official visits. The reasoning – and it could change on Wednesday – is that recruiting camps involved hundreds of high school kids, their families, coaches, staffers, trainers, and more cramming into one field. These visits? It’s a recruit and their parents plus a coach or two at a time. Far more reasonable given the circumstances.
So what happens Wednesday? Does the in-person ban get extended another month? Will the NCAA flip the July dead period when recruiting was not allowed, basically making June the new dead period and allowing for visits and camps in July? It’s hard to know. Much like everything else with this pandemic, recruiting is in wait-and-see mode.