Last year, the SEC passed new rules on “over-signing,” including an annual 25-man limit for conference teams.
This year, UGA coach Mark Richt told the AJC that he expects to finish with a recruiting class of between 30-35 players. The Bulldogs already have 30 commitments for 2013, with at least a couple of more targets on both sides of the ball.
How can that be? How can UGA sign 30-35 if there’s a new rule with a 25-man limit?
The recruiting term will soon, if it’s not already, be as famous as over-signing, which is defined as a college team signing more recruits than they have scholarships available. Over-signing was made famous by coaches like Houston Nutt and Nick Saban.
Early enrollees is the loophole when the SEC talked tough and passed the over-signing rules last year. What are they? Early enrollees are recruits from high school, prep school or junior college that can complete college entrance requirements by midyear (or graduate early) and enroll at a four-year college in January. In some sense, it’s a reward for both the college and the recruits they target for taking care of work early in the classroom.
What’s the big deal about that? If a recruit can enroll early, then he can be “back-counted” toward the previous year’s recruiting class – if the college finished with under 25 signees in that previous year. Note: You must also stay below the overall roster limit of 85 players, too. This is how UGA will finish with a recruiting class of 30-35, even though all of them won’t count toward the 2013 numbers.
Let’s talk a closer look at UGA’s situation:
Last year, UGA had a lot of momentum and success until signing day, when it missed on numerous targets. The Bulldogs finished with a much smaller class than they or anybody else expected at 19. Out of that group of 19, two failed to meet NCAA academic requirements. That knocks it down to 17. And then three other recruits enrolled early, with two “back-counted” toward the 2011 numbers.
So the final tally for UGA’s 2012 class was 15 signees, 10 spots under the SEC’s new 25-man limit. Some jokingly called it “under-signing.”
This year, UGA has 30 commitments and may finish with 35.
Out of the 30 commits, at least 17 have said that they intend to enroll early and begin taking classes at UGA for spring semester on Jan. 7.
Now whether all 17 make it or not is unknown. According to now-former UGA recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner earlier this week, each recruit has to be approved by the school president and admissions committee, and all of them had yet to be approved – whether it’s due to academics, waiting on test scores, delayed paperwork or for whatever reasons. A lot of that will unfold in the next 10 days.
While UGA would love to have all 17, it’s really counting on 10. That’s the magic number because that’s the maximum the Bulldogs can “back-count” toward the 2012 class, which currently has 15 signees, to max out with 25.
If at least 10 are early enrollees, UGA can quickly compensate for last year’s small class and add much-needed team depth with a super-sized signing class — perfectly legal under SEC rules.
What if 17 make it? What about the other seven? The other seven, even though they are early enrollees, they will count toward 2013’s regular 25-man limit.
Early enrollees are the hottest thing in recruiting. They’re not new, as some have pointed out below. But it is new for so many schools to to use them in this magnitude. UGA had only three early enrollees last year and two in 2011, before blowing the doors off with 17 potential EE’s this year.
UGA is not the only SEC school taking advantage of this new rule, with both Florida and Alabama expecting around 8-10 early enrollees each.
And a memo to high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors: If you really want to play D1 football, you will triple your marketability to colleges if you do well enough with your academics to be an early enrollee as a senior.
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