National Signing Day

Cole Mazza Signing

Rubio Long Snapper Cole Mazza signing with Alabama

Today, is the first National Signing Day for football (there are two, one in December and one in February). High school and JC football players around the country will be signing on the dotted line to play for their respective schools. It is a great time of the year for all involved. It is Signing Day. It is covered by major sports affiliates and it begins the process of which college will dominate tomorrow with the stellar high school athletes of today.

With all the hoopla, comes questions….let me clear some things up for everyone. These are all from questions I have received over the years. Here you go and be sure to reference back to THIS blog I wrote about the difference between a full ride, a preferred walk-on and a standard walk-on:

Is Signing Day the only day an athlete can sign with a college? 
Absolutely not. It is just the first official day for the seniors to make their commitment official. A scholarship athlete can sign anytime on or after that day. You can literally sign the day you get on campus if you are a late pick-up for a school. The whole Signing Day is just a lot of pomp and circumstance that the media has turned it into an event.

Do Preferred Walk-Ons sign on Signing Day?
No, they do not officially sign anything. However, many schools and parents like to have a simple ceremony that represents signing. A preferred walk-on, although verbally committed to a school is NOT locked into that respective school. They have the option to change their mind to another school at any point if a scholarship comes their way. Not exactly the most kosher thing to do to a coach/program but they would most likely understand. I look at it like this, an athlete not taking a scholarship would be similar to a person not taking a free car and opting to pay for the same car.

If I sign with a college on scholarship, can I adjust after?
Sure, BUT you will lose a year of eligibility. Once you sign, you are done. Don’t even think about transferring as it rarely works out and is an uphill battle to say the least. Think about it, why would a coach want an athlete that could not fit in at their first stop? A transfer athlete always brings up red flags…why is it going to work this time, why did he not get along with players and coaches at the first school, it is a homesick issue, is he a problem case, schooling? All are questions that a new coach is going to want to know about you. Bottom line, make your decision and stick with it.

How do the schools get the athletes signatures? 
Most athletes sign in the early morning and then fax them in to their new home (school).

Why have a Signing Day? 
It is the day your verbal commitment becomes official.

Can a junior that is offered a scholarship sign early?
Nope. They must wait just like the others within his graduating class. All of this waiting around gives way to all the committing and de-committing which coaches and sports writers absolutely love (dripping with sarcasm).

Is it true that scholarships have to be renewed every year by the school?
Yes. This is one of those things that not a lot of people know about but it is true. Every single year, the staff has to renew your scholarship for the next year. Therefore, if you are not producing as an athlete, student or person, your scholarship can not be renewed. It is not very common for it to happen, but I have witnessed it occur. Usually, a social issue is the final straw in saying bye bye to your education being paid for by the school.

What can go wrong with the Signing Day process?
Several things and most involve the fax machine. If the exact form is not sent in signed properly, the deal is not sealed. Many schools have lost an athlete because the Letter of Intent was faxed upside down, backwards or just not clear. Then, when they tell the student-athlete to do it again, said athlete often takes it as an omen that it wasn’t meant to be and poof! a new school is chosen. Trust me, it does happen.

All in all, Signing Day is a great thing that should be cherished by all but definitely don’t feel as though it is the end all be all. No matter when you sign, you are still going to be on full scholarship with your school paid for, and that is the most important thing.


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  1. This is really great. But I think a player needs to sign by sometime in April. After that he can has to wait until he enrolls to fall under the transfer rules. At least it used to be that way.

    Also, a little known fact is that the LOI needs to be signed by the player AND a parent or guardian in order to be valid.

    Thanks for putting this together!

    Inside Sparta

  2. Great insight. Thanks Don. It is almost impossible to keep up with the ever growing/changing face of the NCAA.

  3. How come sometimes you see an athlete signing at their school on Signing Day if they are preferred walk-on?

    This is done by their high school for the whole pomp and circumstance of the whole thing. They are not actually signing a letter of intent as there is, as previously stated, nothing for a preferred walk-on to sign.

  4. Dave Demeter says

    Can you add any clarification with the need to register with NCAA Clearinghouse? I hear about it but not sure what the purpose is.


    • @Dave Registering with the NCAA clearinghouse is the equivalent to getting pre-approved for a home loan. The realtor will much more open to showing you a 200,000 home if they know you are pre-approved for 300,000. A college coach will be much more open to recruiting you if they know you are “cleared” so there is no last minute academic hurdles.

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