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WR Prospect Provides Preview of Post-NLI Recruiting

Corey Clark of the Tallahassee Democrat:

“He could be a difference-maker here, too,” Fisher said with a smile. “He could be a difference-maker here, and he’s a guy we want very badly in this class. He’s a tremendous player.”

“He” is Josh Malone, a four-star, top–50 overall wide receiver prospect. Fisher is Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. Fisher made that comment about Malone after Georgia head coach Mark Richt had similar glowing praise. Both coaches are able to talk about Malone because while he has not committed to either school, he has signed with both (as well as Tennessee if Volunteers head coach Butch Jones wants to get in on the act).

Malone was able to sign with both schools under the NCAA’s new interpretation which allows midyear enrollee prospects to sign financial aid agreements starting August 1 of their senior year. While later than the previous rule, the date is standard across all sports and may become another Signing Day as it becomes more well known. The result is the coaches get to treat Malone like an National Letter of Intent signee, with few restrictions on publicity or recruiting contact, but still must finish the job and get the actual commitment.

Malone is in an advantageous position, with three schools having promised him a scholarship if he shows up in January. He has not committed to any of them. This gives him an even stronger hand than the one advocated by many NLI opponents, who would encourage a player of Malone’s caliber to sign a financial aid agreement with one school, but not an NLI in case something changes. Expect to even see some criticism of Malone for holding two scholarships he will never use while other prospects are angling for just an offer.

The tactics of the three coaches will be interesting as well. Will unlimited communication and no restrictions on talking about the recruit publically get out of hand? If so, it will be another example to point to for opponents of recruiting deregulation in football. If not, the question then becomes whether this will become the norm for top early enrollee prospects, and whether this type of recruiting can scale from one prospect to ten and then potentially hundreds.

Are you ready for the NEXT STEP!