By Otis Kirk
If one wants to know the advantage of the early signing period for an established coach in place instead of one just hired look at Chad Morris.
The early signing period is a three-day window in December to allow football prospects to sign thus ending their recruiting. This year, Morris and his staff signed 20 and could add another one on Friday.
The Hogs signed eight prospects early last year when Morris had been on the job for less than two weeks. He was introduced as the new head football coach on Dec. 7 and the signing period was Dec. 20-22. Morris hit the ground running without any defensive assistants on his staff until in January. Morris talked about the early period last year at this time.
“At the time, I think everybody thought it was a good idea,” Morris said. “But what we’re finding out, especially with coaching changes right now, you’re having to get into contact periods. They hired me on Thursday. I’ve basically been here eight days.
“You’re trying to get into people’s living rooms, you’re trying to get into schools. With the guys that are committed, to hang on to the commits, gather guys, make sure, (say) ‘Look, give me a chance to build a relationship.’ You’re trying to build a two-year, one-year relationship in about 20 minutes and that’s impossible. You go into these schools and a lot of these kids right now are in final exams. How many of these kids are being pulled out of class right here in a key time for them, it’s been very difficult. I didn’t see it in this scope, but it has been very challenging.”
Fast forward that a year where Morris has had time to build relationships with all the prospects in the Class of 2019 and a full staff to recruit them.
“Now that I’ve gone through it for the first time and been stationary through an entire cycle to where you’re able to build a relationship and focus on the kids that you’re targeting, I like it,” Morris said of the early signing period. “It allows us in the month of January, we’ve got nine spots thereabouts that we’ll be going and seeing, target areas for the 2019 class, but it will be nothing like going and trying to target 29.
“It’ll allow us to get a jump start on spring recruiting with the 2020s and 2021s. We were on the phone with, I bet we’ve talked to 40-45 of them already today, the 2020s, and letting them know that a year from right now is their day.”
The early signing period is a big advantage for a coach already in place and Arkansas is a perfect example of that.