The recruiting calendar is undergoing a major shift that will alter the way college football teams around the country handle recruiting beginning with the 2018 cycle.
The implementation of an early signing period, which runs from Wednesday through Friday, means that teams are allowed to sign prospects this week instead of the signing period that traditionally begins the first Wednesday in February.
That date still will be open for prospects who choose to wait or for those prospects who simply aren’t ready to make a decision on where they want to attend college.
With this being the first year this change takes place, many observers and fans around the country are curious to see how this arrangement will play out.
Will schools sign most of their current commits, or will players still choose to wait until February?
No one really knows the answer, and that is part of why this class is so fascinating.
What is clear is that this edition will be different.
Here is what Seminoles fans need to know to gear up for the early signing period:
— Christian Armstrong™ (@kvng_ca) December 17, 2017
What is the early signing period?
It is a three-day window in which players are free to sign with the college of their choice, thereby ending their respective recruitments.
Traditionally, the December window was for high school prospects who were choosing to enroll early or JUCO prospects eligible to enroll in the spring semester.
Now, under the new arrangement, players do not have to be early enrollees to take advantage of the early signing period.
When is the early signing period?
The early signing period begins Wednesday and runs through Friday.
Which Florida State commits are signing during the early signing period?
The Seminoles have nine commitments in their 2018 recruiting class. Of those nine, only three are taking part in the early signing period:
4-star Tallahassee [Fla.] Chiles linebacker Amari Gainer
Amari Gainer is the son of former Seminoles receiver Herb Gainer. He committed to Florida State in May and has remained firm since. He chose Florida State over Alabama, Georgia, Miami and Texas, among others. During his senior season, Gainer recorded 92 tackles — including 24 tackles for loss, with 11 sacks and an interception.
Signing December 20th at 2 at Legacy Toyota 📝
— AMARI FERRARI 🏎💨 (@AmariGainer) December 14, 2017
3-star Warner Robins [Ga.] offensive tackle Christian Armstrong
Christian Armstrong committed to Florida State in June over Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Penn State, among others. He helped lead his prep squad to a 14-1 record as a senior and an appearance in the Georgia Class 5A state title game.
3-star Deerfield Beach [Fla.] linebacker Rosendo Louis
Rosendo Louis committed to Florida State in August over Arkansas, Auburn, Miami and South Carolina. He immediately became endeared to Seminoles fans for the way he announced his commitment, trolling the rival Hurricanes in the process. As a junior, Louis racked up 118 tackles — including 8 tackles for loss, with 4 sacks and 4 pass breakups.
In addition to signing early, all three players are scheduled to be early enrollees.
Which Florida State recruits are announcing during the early signing period?
In addition to the Seminoles commits, there are a handful of targets whom coach Willie Taggart and the staff will pay close attention to that will announce their intentions during the early signing period. Based on the number of targets that Florida State had in last weekend, this number possibly could grow. However, these are the recruits who are currently scheduled to sign early:
4-star Miami Central running back James Cook
James Cook is committed to Georgia, but he took an official visit to Florida State over the weekend. The younger brother of former Seminoles star rusher Dalvin Cook, James initially committed to the Seminoles in his recruitment before backing out of that pledge in the summer. Taggart’s hire of tight ends coach Telly Lockette — who coached Dalvin when he was the head coach at Central High School from 2008 to ’12 — is another connection that could help in the younger Cook’s recruitment.
4-star Bradenton [Fla.] IMG Academy corner Brendan Radley-Hiles
Brendan Radley-Hiles is a new name to the board, having earned an offer from Florida State earlier in December. He then used his last official visit to Florida State over the weekend, which replaced a previously scheduled visit to Florida. Clemson, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC represent the other schools vying for his commitment. He is originally from California, but the Sooners have the latest traction on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page. He seemed to enjoy his time in Tallahassee, but his recruitment may be a case of too little, too late.
— .44 (@Bookie_44) December 16, 2017
4-star Franklin [Ga.] Heard County quarterback Emory Jones
Emory Jones is committed to Ohio State, but he split his last weekend between visits to Florida and Florida State. He also has visited Alabama and Auburn over the last few months, and there is a strong possibility he signs with someone other than the Buckeyes. The question becomes which school holds the inside track on landing him if that logic holds true. There is no real clear-cut answer, and that is what makes Jones such an intriguing recruit to follow over the next few days. His skill set makes for a great fit in Taggart’s offense, but the depth charts at Auburn and Florida perhaps make them more attractive choices in the end.
— Gradick Sports (@GradickSports) December 17, 2017
5-star Bossier City [La.] Parkway receiver Terrace Marshall
Terrace Marshall announced a final three of Florida State, LSU and Texas A&M. He took an official visit to Florida State in October. Marshall is the top-ranked player from Louisiana, and he is expected to select the home-standing Tigers. If he were to head elsewhere, the Aggies seem to have a better shot of stealing him away than the Seminoles.
3-star Tampa Bay Tech [Fla.] quarterback Michael Penix
Florida State is in need of a quarterback in the 2018 class, and Taggart extended an offer last week to Michael Penix — who is committed to Tennessee. Taggart did an in-home visit with Penix, but the Sunshine State passer appears to be torn between Florida State, Indiana and Tennessee. He is a wild card because there is no clear read on what he will do heading into his announcement.
5-star Bellflower [Calif.] St. John Bosco safety Jaiden Woodbey
Jaiden Woodbey is another longtime Ohio State pledge who could sign elsewhere beginning on Wednesday. Oklahoma and USC are the other primary contenders, but he earned an offer from the Seminoles last week and spent last weekend splitting up visits on the campuses of USC and Florida State. The Seminoles represent the childhood favorite, but there is little else in the way of familiarity connecting Woodbey with the program. While there is clearly enough of a pull to get him to visit, it would be a surprise to see him select the Seminoles in the end.
Florida State University . . . pic.twitter.com/efQuUX9ivd
— ⚡️THOR ⚡️ (@JaidenWoodbey) December 17, 2017
Which Florida State commits aren’t signing during the early signing period?
The following Seminoles pledges will not sign during the early signing period:
4-star Upper Marlboro [Md.] Dr. Henry Wise corner Anthony Lytton
Anthony Lytton plans to sign with Florida State in February. While he may take visits to Alabama and Georgia, he has gone on the record stating that FSU is his dream school. It would be a shock if he ended up anywhere other than Tallahassee for college.
4-star Fort Lauderdale [Fla.] St. Thomas Aquinas corner Asante Samuel Jr.
Asante Samuel Jr. is being recruited by schools such as Miami, Ohio State and South Carolina. He has stated that he’s solid with his commitment before, but it appears as if he will go through the process. He took his official visit to Florida State last weekend, so there is a chance he could change his mind and end the process early.
— Asante Samuel Ⓜ️ (@godschild3_) December 14, 2017
4-star Snellville [Ga.] South Gwinnett defensive tackle Robert Cooper
Robert Cooper had programs such as Alabama and Georgia coming after him during the fall. However, after Taggart got the job, he made an in-home visit with Cooper that solidified his commitment. Cooper subsequently took an official visit to FSU last weekend and appears to be a safe bet to sign with the Seminoles in February.
4-star Daytona Beach [Fla.] Mainland receiver D’Marcus Adams
D’Marcus Adams committed to Florida State in June. The U.S. Army All-American took an unofficial visit to Florida during the fall but has since stated that he is firm in his commitment.
4-star Montezuma [Ga.] Macon County offensive guard Christian Meadows
Christian Meadows took an unofficial visit to Florida earlier this month, and Miami is another school that could receive a visit from him soon. The Seminoles definitely will try to hold on to his commitment, but there may be a little more work to do in solidifying his pledge.
3-star Zephyrhills [Fla.] Wesley Chapel defensive end Chaz Neal
Chaz Neal committed to the Seminoles in July. He has been a bit of a mystery because there has been little to no news about him and any type of visit plans to Florida State or elsewhere. One key to watch will be to see if and when Taggart and the staff pay him a visit.
— 42™〽️ (@RJ_DREAMCHASER) December 14, 2017
Which Florida State commits are enrolling early?
As noted above, Gainer, Armstrong and Louis are enrolling early.