The 2013 recruiting year is not even three months old, yet more than half of the nation's top 100 recruits (according to Rivals) have already committed. And it's not just the top kids, as schools across the country are loading up ahead of time.
Is this unusual? Oh, yes. Over the past three years, the nation's top 75 recruiting teams have averaged about three commitments at this point in the year, though that doesn't include decommitments. Right now, they're averaging more than five.
The good news for those who like excitement: This could all lead to some major February drama. The two biggest events in recruiting are announcements and decommits, and in most cases you can't have the latter without early commits. Coaches will preach loyalty, but hooray, mayhem!
Here's a look at the 50 schools with the most commitments so far. according to Rivals and 247 Sports, along with their numbers over the past three years to this point:
The Texas Longhorns have long gotten their upcoming class largely filled up a year ahead of time, then added names judiciously along the way. Big 12 teams, and other Texas teams like the TCU Horned Frogs and Houston Cougars, tend to grab more early commitments than those elsewhere around the country, perhaps due to the extensive evaluations players get at Texas 7-on-7 camps and so forth.
West coast and Big Ten teams have been more likely to take their time, while the SEC is one big arms race all year long. Most years, Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide have lined up about half to a third of their class by the time spring ball ends, while the Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs and LSU Tigers always look to have a handful of commits by the end of spring.
Schools with unique recruiting bases like the BYU Cougars and Notre Dame Fighting Irish are often able to take advantage with early commitments, likewise those who exploit specific strategies more often than others do (like the Kansas St. Wildcats' Juco thing).
But this year, it seems like every school is looking to get way out in front of things. The big story is the Michigan Wolverines, whose 17 commits make for more than they've had in any combined two years of the Rivals era, and, thus, probably ever. It's noteworthy that Brady Hoke was the Big Ten coach most supportive of Urban Meyer back during Recruit-TakingGate. But almost across the board, schools are getting more and more early commitments.
Look at the UCLA Bruins, who've been especially California in recent years, rarely landing commits until summer. But Jim Mora's new staff, which includes former Texas recruiting star Adriam Klemm from the SMU Mustangs, has brought in an entire class' worth of 2012 and 2013 players since taking over in December. Maybe everybody's just getting a little more Texas overall.
So this is happening. But why?
Nobody really knows. Stakes are going up all the time, so coaches apply more and more pressure. Many recruits see an early commit as the chance to do some recruiting of their own. Maybe having established, consensus top recruits -- as 2013 has in Robert Nkemdiche and Reuben Foster -- makes other players less likely to extend the process. It could just be a fad -- maybe next year nobody will commit until October.
Teens make decisions that seem strange to non-teens. And, as with any recruiting discussion, that's the key takeaway.
What do you think?
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