Yesterday, Lehigh announced the signing of 12 football student-athletes to National Letters of Intent, or NLI's.
Nobody knew exactly what was going to happen in regards to student-athletes, whether they would sign national letters of intent, or not.
What ended up happening was a floodgate of signings, not just at Lehigh but across college football.
I entered Wednesday thinking that a good target for announced Lehigh football recruits was six, based on little other than my history of observing this stuff. As it stood, I saw schools like Delaware announcing six football recruits signed before breakfast, and Lehigh had inked their sixth recruit well before I had my leftover General Tso's chicken for lunch.
It wasn't just amongst Patriot League or FCS schools, either. Penn State signed 21 recruits, including one of the top athletes of the Lehigh Valley, who flipped to the Nittany Lions from UCLA. Some estimates speculate that when the dust settles on this early signing period, over half of eligible football recruits will have signed with their schools.
For the student-athletes and their families, committing during this time offers some great benefits. It binds the schools' scholarship offers to the student-athletes, and can pull the plug on some of the signing-day circuses that have sprung up in years past. It also moves much of the pomp and circumstance to the end of the second marking period, an academic lull where tests are complete and there is time to have a celebratory signing ceremony in the library.
Overall, early signing day seems to be a major win for the student-athletes, who get to commit earlier, get to worry less, and get to experience the celebration for their collegiate signings that is becoming more and more the norm at a time when it suits them better. Whether you love the process or hate it, this way of doing it seems to have a lot of benefits, and it's here to stay.
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