Every athlete that receives a scholarship to an NCAA division I school or a division II school must sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI). From November 14, 2012 through November 21, 2012, athletes in sports other than football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country, and men’s water polo can sign an NLI during the early signing period.
The early signing period only lasts one week, but it can create peace of mind for recruits that have been proactive in the recruiting process and found an opportunity earlier than their peers.
How Did These Athletes Get Here?
Too often, recruits wait until their senior year to start recruiting. Sometimes it happens because athletes think that coaches will find them, and other times they think they have to wait until their senior year to start getting recruited. The truth? You need to start at the very least thinking about recruiting during your freshman year of high school. You don’t have to start emailing coaches while you are still getting adjusted to high school life, but at least start contemplating what schools interest you.
If you want to have a shot at signing an NLI during the early signing period, you can’t wait until your senior year to think about recruiting. A coach will not magically appear and offer you a scholarship. Starting early is the only way you can have a shot at signing an NLI in the early signing period. \
Developing a relationship with coaches over the years can lead to an early offer. If you’ve taken the time to get to know a coach and a program, and in turn they know you well, that coach will be more likely to make an offer to you during the early period.
Why Sign an NLI During the Early Period?
Coaches offer scholarships to the top athletes on their recruiting list during the early signing period. If you work hard enough to find the right fit both academically and athletically, while all your friends are scrambling to figure out their college plans you can sit back and enjoy your senior year. All the pressure of your senior year will seem so much more manageable if you aren’t struggling to find a college because you have already done that.
Are There Any Risks to Signing an Early Offer?
Signing an NLI locks you into a one-year contract with that school. That means you can’t even talk to another coach without written permission from your athletic department. If you do, it could cost you some eligibility. To transfer to another school you must get written permission as well, so only sign an early offer if you are 100 percent sure you want to go to that school.