The Division I Council made the decision to extend the recruiting dead period in a statement last week. The dead period extended in all sports through Aug. 31. It left many with key questions about the process moving forward.
Let’s try to tackle a few of the big ones that have come up.
Q: When can recruits take their visits?
A: As of right now, on-campus visits will not happen until at least Aug. 31. The first time any in-person recruiting can happened again will be the first games of the season. Nebraska’s first matchup is scheduled for Sept. 5 against Purdue. Yet, there is no sign either way from the NCAA if that is the date visits will be allowed. We are facing a real possibility that there will be no on-campus visits this fall for recruits.
The big issue is adding in normal recruiting weekends on top of the precautions that will need to happen to play games this fall. Doing that brings up many more questions. In a typical weekend, at least 100 people come to Lincoln for visits since no prospect visits alone. Those folks are coming from all over the country since Nebraska recruits nationwide. Would Nebraska be required to test them all for COVID-19? When would they be tested? Testing would need to be done ahead of the visit to Lincoln. That wouldn’t guarantee anything because someone could get the virus on the trip to Nebraska.
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in many states around the country. That doesn’t help the ability to predict when the dead period will end. It’s a tough situation. It is not as simple as making people sign waivers or even limiting the amount of people that come to campus in a given week. That means it might be awhile still before we know when recruits can make their ways to campuses across the country.
Q: How does this affect Nebraska’s 2021 recruiting class?
A: Since the dead period went into effect back in March, we have seen prospects go ahead and make decisions on colleges. It seems like we get a new wave of commitments each time the dead period is extended. Nebraska has gained seven commitments for the 2021 recruiting class since March. Just three of the seven never visited Lincoln at all before picking the Huskers. Branson Yager, Patrick Payton and Gabe Ervin never got a chance to visit.
I can see the Huskers picking up more commitments in the coming weeks. There are players that had strong feelings about the team before the dead period. They might have been consistent in saying they’d like to take visits to be sure. We have all been operating under the assumption that visits will happen this fall. With that in doubt, even more prospects will elect to make the best choice possible without on-campus visit.
The lack of visits and camps also have an impact on the 2022 recruiting class. The same way that 2021 prospects use camps and visits to get in front of college coaches works for 2022. There are lots of 2022 prospects that will go under the radar longer because they weren’t able to be seen early. We’ll see if things slow down with early 2022 commitments. They have longer to wait it out hoping that visits open back up.
Q: Is there anything prospects can do besides a virtual visit?
A: Yes. Under the dead period rules, coaches can call, FaceTime or Zoom with prospects. Their families can also join on those calls. The NCAA expanded the rules to allow support staff to participate in those calls too. That way prospects can get as close to the full experience of a visit without physically being on campus.
One thing we are starting to see prospects do more is just visit campus on their own. Recent linebacker commit Seth Malcom took a trip with his family to Nebraska and Kansas State to walk around campus before making his announcement. California linebacker Will Schweitzer also took a family trip to Lincoln. He wanted to get a feel for the town and campus. Coaches aren’t allowed to interact with the prospects while they are on campus but doing that so you at least see the school can be helpful.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.