Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
The Recruiting Guy:
Virus has recruits in limbo
The coronavirus has created havoc in the world of college football recruiting.
The pandemic forced the NCAA to enact a dead period March 13 which forbids prospects from visiting schools. It also kept coaches from hitting the road during the spring evaluation period that ran from April 15 to May 31.
The dead period saw numerous prospects commit to schools without the benefit of a visit, and there’s a good chance that will have to continue going into the fall. The current dead period runs until Aug. 31, but with the rising virus cases around the nation, it’s reasonable to expect the period to be extended.
Six of the University of Arkansas’ 17 commitments for the 2021 class pledged to the Hogs without visiting the campus. There’s a good chance some of the remaining prospects that fill the class will do so without visiting.
The pandemic hasn’t slowed prospects from committing to schools. This time last year the Hogs had 14 commits.
Perhaps the most impacted by the dead period are upcoming seniors across the nation that weren’t able to be seen by college coaches during the spring and also during summer camps on college campuses.
Numerous prospects are discovered and receive scholarship offers during the spring evaluation period, while prospects with limited number of offers see their offer list grow and sometime explode in numbers.
National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network said many senior prospects are uptight about the possibly of no fall football.
“Especially kids that don’t have offers that are borderline DI or Division II talent,” Lemming said.
The uncertainty is causing stress among the recruits.
“No one knows whats going on right now to everything is in the state of flux,” Lemming said. “You don’t know if they’re going to play the college or high school season. I would imagine the recruiting rules will have to be changed.”
The Arkansas Activities Association announced Thursday that no decision has been made on the football season but expects it to come soon.
“Hopefully, next week,” AAA Executive Director Lance Taylor told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Thursday. “We’re getting close. Football practice starts soon, too.”
Several states have announced high school seasons will be delayed until late in the year or early next year. Lemming is confident the NCAA will delay the traditional February signing date until late spring or early summer to accommodate the states planning to play in the spring.
“Everything gets pushed back,” Lemming said. “They’re going to come through and help the kids in recruiting. The second signing period is in February. It can’t be then maybe they move it to June or July. These are kids that can help them [NCAA] sell their billion-dollar product.”
States looking to play in the fall are counting on a vaccine that medical experts believe will be ready by the end of the year or first of 2021.
“I think eventually everything is going to work out but it’s a stressful time,” Lemming said.
If the expected vaccine falls though and isn’t reality, Lemming sees recruits suffering from anxiety.
“The panic will sit in for the kids that don’t have offers,” Lemming said.
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