Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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8 MAY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MATT JONES F or years, Brian Kelly has publicly supported the addition of an early signing period for high school foot- ball prospects. In April, the eighth-year Notre Dame head coach finally got his wish. The NCAA Division I Council re- cently approved changes to a num- ber of aspects of college football, most notably the recruiting model. Beginning Aug. 1, 2017, a new early signing period will go into place for December, coinciding with the previ- ous date for junior college prospects to sign. The previous early February signing date will stay as is. The addition of a signing period means that juniors will be able to start taking official visits — paid for by the school — on April 1 of their junior year rather than Sept. 1 of the prospect's senior year. "We feel as though this is a positive thing," Kelly said. "I like the fact that we can get juniors up here in April through June to see our beautiful campus and the great weather that we have here in South Bend. "April through June are great months to have our own visitors, not just rely on home games. Those are great things from our perspective." Previously, Notre Dame's official visits have been primarily for home football games and offseason week- ends. Early season games can show- case the school's campus and warm weather, but late-season contests plus December and January weekends are generally colder and less conducive to wowing prospective athletes. The change is ideal for northern schools like Notre Dame, which can now pay for recruits to visit in the spring and summer. But southern programs like Alabama, Florida and Texas — which have better weather year round — take a hit with the new rules. An early signing period has long been in effect for basketball, giving prospects an opportunity to sign with a college in early November near the beginning of their senior seasons. Kelly said he isn't sure how Notre Dame's class will unfold when it comes to National Signing Day. Will some players wait until February to make it official, or will the majority of the class sign in December? An early signing period bumps up against bowl season, making it a hectic time on the college football calendar. "Who knows how that will eventu- ally play out," Kelly said. "Will you have all your early commitments signed? We're not necessarily count- ing on that." Should players sign with Notre Dame in December, Kelly and his staff will be freed up to visit more uncommitted players, which benefits the Irish. More so than other pro- grams, Notre Dame recruits coast-to- coast, meaning its coaches can spend valuable time visiting a smaller num- ber of recruits to round out the class. NO MORE TWO-A-DAY PRACTICES In addition to a new signing pe- riod, the NCAA voted to eliminate the longstanding tradition of two-a- day practices. The NCAA is allowing schools to have a padded practice and a walk- through practice (no pads) instead of two padded practices. "The Council's action reinforces our commitment to the health and safety of our student-athletes," said NCAA Council chair Jim Phillips, athletics director at Northwestern. "We continue to be guided by the recommendations from medical pro- fessionals, coaches and administra- tors and the strong support for dis- continuing two contact practices in the same day." Notre Dame held four twos-a-day last fall with varying degrees of pad- ded work. Kelly said he has no prob- lem with the elimination of this kind of practice. "No doubles, not a big deal," Kelly said. "I'm good with that. You can get plenty of work done in that time- frame." According to research cited by the NCAA, practices with tackling are more likely to cause a concus- sion than practices that don't include tackling. Additionally, the decision allows for appropriate recovery time to prevent both heat illness and over- use injuries. The elimination of two-a-day ses- sions comes just months after the NCAA voted to allow football pre- season practices to begin a week ear- UNDER THE DOME NCAA HELPS NOTRE DAME The addition of an early signing period is a positive for the Irish According to head coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame's recruiting efforts got a boost in April when the NCAA approved the addition of an early signing period. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS

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