Just because National Signing Day has ended doesn’t mean all of the signings have done the same.
While most of the attention is focused on signing day itself, that date, Feb. 6 this year, is merely the start of what is the regular signing period that runs through April 1, 2019, for both the FBS and FCS levels. While the vast majority of top recruits, either on National Signing Day or the three-day Early Signing Period in mid-December, have already put their collective Herbie Hancocks on a National Letter of Intent, not all have.
In fact, six four-star prospects (out of more than 340) on 247Sports.com‘s composite board have yet to put pen to NLI paper and, thus, could still be recruited over the next seven weeks or so by a handful of Power Five football programs.
- Safety Nick Cross (No. 55 on 247Sports.com’s composite board)
The fourth-ranked safety and top-ranked player at any position in the state of Maryland has been committed to Florida State since September of last year. While Cross prefers FSU, his parents want him to attend Penn State, with Maryland viewed as a compromise choice. 247Sports wrote Wednesday that “FSU seems to be out of it,” although a final decision has yet to be made. It’s believed that the decision-making process won’t last more than a few days, although that’s far from certain.
- Wide receiver Puka Nacua (No. 136)
The top-rated player at any position in the state of Utah, Nacua committed to USC June 18 before taking a trio of official visits to Pac-12 schools in the two weeks leading into signing day — Washington (Jan. 25), UCLA (Jan. 30), Oregon (Feb. 1). “We need more time to break down the information and talk. We’ve been too busy and unable to find quality time,” Nacua’s mother, Penina Nacua, told the Deseret News in a text about the family’s decision to delay the recruit’s signing. Despite the commitment to the Trojans, the Huskies are viewed as the favorites to land Nacua.
- Dual-threat quarterback Anthony Harris (No. 233)
Listed as a quarterback, it’s believed Harris will move to the defensive secondary at the collegiate level. Harris committed to Tennessee over the summer, and is still viewed as a hard commit, but the athlete could end up staying in his home state of North Carolina and playing for the Tar Heels.
- Defensive end Braedon Mowry (No. 234)
After committing to Texas A&M last April, he’s still viewed as a hard commit to the Aggies. Speculation is the Katy, Tex., high schooler is working to get his academic house in order before officially signing with A&M, which is expected in time so that he would be available for the 2019 season.
- Wide receiver Darren Jones (No. 253)
The 6-8 receiver committed to Utah on Aug. 21.
- Defensive tackle Josh Ellison (No. 335)
Like Mowry, Ellison is a hard commit to Texas A&M (he committed a year ago this month). Also like Mowry, Ellison is working to clean up some academic issues. Unlike Mowry, the rumor is Ellison will very likely grayshirt and kick off his collegiate career next year.
Going even deeper, four other 2019 prospects, all three-stars, in the Top 500 of 247Sports.com’s composite board remain unsigned.
And then there were two.
Seeing the Justin Fields writing on the wall, Tate Martell transferred from Ohio State in mid-January and ultimately landed at Miami. Three months later, another OSU signal-caller, Matthew Baldwin, confirmed on Twitter Thursday night that he too has decided to take his leave of the Buckeyes and place his name into the NCAA transfer database.
“[S]pring was a tough time for me personally. My family and I have prayed and talked a lot about where I belong and what is best for me,” Baldwin wrote as part of a very classy Twitter post revealing his decision. “In the end, we feel like it’d be better for me to step away from Ohio State.”
A four-star member of OSU’s 2018 recruiting class, Baldwin was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in Austin, Texas. Baldwin didn’t play a down for the Buckeyes as he continued his rehab from an ACL injury he suffered late in his high school career at Lake Travis.
With the twin departures of Baldwin and Martell, OSU is now down to two scholarship quarterbacks — the Georgia transfer Fields (HERE) and West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov (HERE). Fields was widely expected to be the Buckeyes’ starter under center in the 2019 opener; Baldwin’s decision ensures that, barring injury, that will indeed be the case.
A week and a half after word broke Luke Jones was intending to leave Notre Dame comes the announcement Jones is going to be playing closer to home. The Arkansas native announced with a message on Twitter he is coming home to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“I would like to thank the University of Note Dame for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing college football,” Jones said in a brief message on his Twitter account. “However, I have decided to transfer and play football for the University of Arkansas. I will be enrolling in the summer and am excited for this new chapter in my life!”
Jones spent a brief moment with the Notre Dame program as he was a member of the Class of 2018 in South Bend. Prior to committing to the Fighting Irish, Jones had been committed to the Arkansas football program in his recruiting process, but Notre Dame emerged victorious in the recruiting game during a coaching change with the Razorbacks.
Jones will be required to sit out the 2019 season under standard NCAA transfer rules, although those seem to be more like guidelines these days, so we’ll wait to see if there is a chance Jones gets to jump into the mix in the offensive line for the Razorbacks this fall.
Tight end Tyler Sear is hopping on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and heading from one metropolitan corner of the state to the next. Sear announced on his Twitter account on Thursday he is transferring from Pitt to Temple.
The Class of 2017 recruit of the Panthers left the program last October for what was simply described as personal reasons. It was unknown if the leave of absence was a short-term or long-term plan as the decisions about the status were being kept close to the vest within the Pitt program.
Sear did battle some injury concerns during his time at Pitt that prevented him from potentially reaching his full potential for the Panthers. He caught two passes for nine yards last season prior to his stepping away from the team.
Perhaps a clean slate with a new program will do Sear good as he steps in to try contributing with the Owls in the AAC. Sear will have to sit out the 2019 season due to standard NCAA transfer rules, unless an exception is granted by the NCAA. It is unknown if a waiver will be filed by Sear and Temple for immediate eligibility.
Sear has not used a redshirt year yet so he could burn that in 2019 while waiting to get back on the field if he is forced to sit out the 2019 season. That ould leave Sear with two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.
Add another name to the growing list of players entering the transfer portal. This time it is Michigan cornerback Myles Sims. According to a report from 247 Sports, the former four-star prospect in Michigan’s Class of 2018 is evaluating his options.
Any player who adds his name to the transfer portal is allowed to make contact with potential programs of interest, but it does not automatically mean that player is gone for god. Sims will have the option of pulling his name out of the portal in the event he decides to stay in Ann Arbor. How quickly Sims will make any decision one way or the other remains to be seen.
Sims did not see the field last season for Michigan so he can use the 2018 season as his redshirt year. That gives the former four-star recruit four years of eligibility remaining, although he will likely have to burn one year of eligibility by sitting out the upcoming 2019 season.
Standard NCAA transfer rules require a player to sit out a full season before being ruled eligible to play again, although exceptions have been made a bit more frequently over the past year. Whether or not Sims will have the chance to play right away this fall will have to wait to be determined when he decides what his plans will be moving forward.