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Late Signing Period Roundtable: Putting a wrap on 2024 class

The Late Signing Period kicks off Wednesday, and while there are very few questions left to be answered surrounding the 2024 class, we managed to find a few to ask our national recruiting analysts.

MORE NSD: Complete guide to National Signing Day announcements | Five biggest storylines for this week | Four programs in the spotlight



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1. With the Late Signing Period rendered useless for the most part now, what would your signing period calendar look like?

Adam Friedman: I've long been a proponent of moving the Early Signing Period to the beginning of August. For the most part, players take their official visits during June and verbally commit before August starts. The NCAA can keep the transfer windows where they are and keep the Late Signing Period on the first Wednesday in February. Of course, players should be given an "out" of their Letter of Intent if the head coach of the school they signed with leaves or is fired.

If you think about the NFL calendar, much of it is organized around major events like opening weekend, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Super Bowl, the combine, the draft and the start of the free agency signing period. As college football moves to a more professional model, it would be wise for the NCAA to stake out dates for major events. Before the advent of the Early Signing Period, National Signing Day was a massive event on the first Wednesday of February. While it's no longer feasible to expect players to wait that long to sign, the NCAA can still recapture the major event feeling that used to accompany the biggest date on the recruiting calendar.

John Garcia Jr.: I think the recruiting calendar is the easiest piece of the puzzle to make moves within. College coaches almost unanimously agree that December, with the portal open, carousel in full swing and bowl season in place, is just too much to have the Early Signing Period thrown in the middle of it. The majority of the coaches I connect with would lean toward a preseason signing window, likely in July or early August, where prospects secure in their selection can officially come off the board. Early enroll prospects would just enroll in January like they did when there was just one signing day window, and it would be well-known ahead of time. Then the traditional first Wednesday in February window can not only have more bang for its buck, but more tangible action for the prospects who aren't kicking off college in January. Of course, any movement will continue to result in prospects asking out of their National Letter of Intent, but that type of move is already on the rise anyway.

Adam Gorney: There is still something wildly fun and energizing about having the Early Signing Period, the transfer portal window and the coaching carousel going on all at the same time in December although it's really not feasible, smart or what we should be doing five days before Christmas. I just don't think coaches are going to put up with it for another recruiting cycle so they'll demand change. For our purposes, a signing day in August and the signing day in February – hard dates – would be best. But what's best for the prospects is a floating signing period where kids can sign whenever they want. That becomes very difficult getting out of NLIs when coaches leave and everything changes with the portal. I'd imagine not many kids would sign early and would wait to see how everything plays out in the portal before making final decisions.

The December window is awful because so much is happening all at once that it's impossible to make level-headed decisions. That's why an August window and a February window would be best.

Greg Smith: One of the big issues with trying to fix the recruiting calendar is that there are no clean and easy solutions. The only thing we all agree on is that the calendar is very compressed for everyone as it is right now. For me, there is a way to break up the workload and stress plus put juice back into the Late Signing Period.

I’d move the December Signing Period to August. Not only that, but if you sign in August you can’t get out of your NLI unless the head coach leaves the school you signed with. That way the prospects are protected some but it’ll also take a chunk of players off the board. Not everyone would commit that early so we’d inject more fun into the February Signing Period.


2. Which team's 2024 class will go down as the biggest surprise?

Marquise Lightfoot
Marquise Lightfoot (Nick Lucero/

Adam Friedman: For whatever reason, N.C. State doesn't get the headlines they often deserve but the Wolfpack and head coach Dave Doeren have done a really good job of developing talent. This 2024 recruiting class has some big names such as Jonathan Paylor, Terrell Anderson and Keenan Jackson at the top of the list but there is some impressive depth as well. Linebacker Elijah Groves, running back Duke Scott, defensive end Josh Alexander-Felton, offensive lineman Trenton Mitchell and a few others could turn out to be difference-makers after a year or two on campus.

John Garcia Jr.: I'll take Nebraska's. Of course Dylan Raiola is the headliner and he'll have the weight of the world on him whenever he gets the keys to the Husker offense, but there are a lot of additional intriguing signings for the program expected to make an impact. Matt Rhule's staff crushed it in South Florida, in particular, so it will be fascinating to see which other freshmen hit the ground running. Two to keep in mind are savvy cornerback Larry Tarver, a flip from Maryland on signing day, as well as NFL legacy Willis McGahee IV. The former is a technician built to play a nickel or outside role while the latter is a do-it-all linebacker with pass-rushing pedigree despite a lack of ideal size. I can see a bunch of the NU freshmen learning on the job as that program starts to turn the corner.

Adam Gorney: Michigan is coming off a national championship and that will always boost recruiting but the Wolverines also lost their iconic coach, Jim Harbaugh, back to the NFL and the program is still under NCAA investigation for the sign-stealing operation. There was a lot to celebrate in Ann Arbor this season but also some tumult that could upend a recruiting class. It didn't. The Wolverines lost no recruits of significance, had no real drama heading toward signing day and while four-star receiver Gatlin Bair chose Oregon over Michigan, this Wolverines' class currently ranks No. 13 overall and might even be a little underrated.

Greg Smith: Give me Miami here. The Hurricanes went 7-6 last season and have yet to take the leap many fans hope for under coach Mario Cristobal. A little patience may pay off quickly for the Canes based on this year’s haul. It’s not a question to me that Miami signed the best defensive line class in the country. Cristobal landed three five-stars on the defensive line in Marquise Lightfoot, Justin Scott and Armondo Blount. Artivius Jones, Booker Pickett, Elias Rudolph and Cole McCanathy are all four-stars. Daylen Russell is a high upside three-star in the class too.


3. Which player from this class are you most excited to see perform on Saturdays?

Dylan Raiola
Dylan Raiola (Matt Moreno/

Adam Friedman: I'm going to cheat here and name a few players but they're all wide receivers. Jeremiah Smith is the best receiver prospect in a long time and should see the field early in his career at Ohio State. Ryan Williams has a chance to be special with Kalen DeBoer and Ryan Grubbs directing the offense. It won't surprise me at all when Micah Hudson helps Texas Tech win games with multiple spectacular plays. The duo of Cam Coleman and Perry Thompson could overwhelm secondaries when they're clicking at Auburn.

John Garcia Jr.: Zaquan Patterson is one Rivals has long been highest on and it's because we've scouted him in games the most. He isn't a tester or a height/weight/speed type of prospect; he's a gamer who simply makes plays wherever he aligns. At Miami, he is probably a hybrid nickel type of safety who can work in the box and support the run while occupying coverage roles underneath. His size, instincts and pop on contact made him a turnover magnet in high school and we can see it carrying over to the college ranks, even if it starts off as just a special teams specific role. Patterson has blocked countless kicks and punts against high-level competition, while also working as a sure tackler in space, so one way or another he'll force his hand at The U as the program reshapes its secondary.

Adam Gorney: Easy, Dylan Raiola. For selfish purposes, I hope he does well at Nebraska to back up his No. 2 overall ranking and as the top-rated quarterback in the 2024 class. But for the larger picture, I'm so intrigued to see if Raiola can finally be that spark that the Huskers' offense has desperately needed for a long time to get that program going again. One person cannot fix all the issues in Lincoln but Raiola immediately becomes one of the better quarterbacks there in a long time because he has such incredible physical tools. Backing off a pledge to Georgia is risky business because the Bulldogs know how to mint NFL players. It was a courageous move by Raiola to flip to the Huskers. Now let's see if it was the smart one.

Greg Smith: Dylan Raiola has the weight of the world on his shoulders right now. He’s the highest-rated quarterback Nebraska has signed in the Rivals Era. His dad’s name is in the stadium at Nebraska. His uncle is the offensive line coach. Raiola may have put coach Matt Rhule’s rebuild on a rocket ship when he decided to sign with Nebraska.

Raiola has all the physical tools you look for in a quarterback. He was the best quarterback prospect this cycle but how will that translate to Saturdays? He doesn’t have to be more than a game manager in year one but it's hard not to be excited about what he can become. Watching it all unfold will be compelling.