BOISE, Idaho — There has been plenty of grumbling about Division I football’s inaugural early signing period, which began Wednesday, especially in regard to how it affects teams that are currently preparing for bowl games.
You won’t hear it from Craig Bohl.
The Wyoming head coach approves of the new system, even though his staff had to balance signing 20 players Wednesday with preparing for Central Michigan and the Potato Bowl on Friday.
“A lot of my colleagues voiced significant complaints about doing in-season visits,” Bohl said. “... It’s not about the coaches. It’s about the student-athlete. What it forces a staff to do is multitask.”
Bohl and director of player personnel Gordie Haug said they emphasized making use of in-season visits, and felt they took a “proactive” approach to the new setup.
“I think there are a lot of schools out there that were reactive,” Bohl said, “and began to go through and look at the commitments that we had that had been posted and a lot of schools, several Power Five schools, reached out to a lot of these fellows. I’m not going to say whom, but our guys held their commitments.”
None of Wyoming’s verbal commitments decommitted from the Cowboys. That’s one of the perks to signing players in December, especially for Group of Five teams.
“You’ve got all these guys committed in December, and then January you’re kind of babysitting all these guys, making sure that they are going to commit and sign in February,” Haug said of previous years. “This allows us to sign them. They’re good to go. Obviously, we’re still going to be in their homes and doing things in January, but it allows us to really concentrate moving forward going into the 2019 class now.”
The work is not done on the 2018 class, however. Teams can sign up to 25 players, and Wyoming has four scholarships left when accounting for Wednesday’s signees and Theo Dawson, a 2016 signee who took a two-year mission.
But having so many players in place in December allows Wyoming to be a bit more picky.
“We’ve got a list of like 15 guys that we still really want,” Haug said. “And so in between all this stuff, we’ve already been setting up official visits and talking to them today and getting that stuff rolling. So we feel good about where we’re at with trying to fill those spots with some really, really good players.”
Bohl didn’t put a definite number on how many players Wyoming would sign in February’s signing period, which until now had been the main signing period for football.
“There’s going to be some give and (take),” he said. “What you have here is we’ve addressed all our needs. And so now what it comes to is saying, ‘OK, who’s the next best available players that are out there that really want to come?’ And so there are guys that we’re real close on right now. Certainly, there’s going to be some players that become available.
“I’m sure some guys thought they were signing today and then that school didn’t show up with papers. And so we’ll look at those guys and they’ll be vetted. But from now on out, we’ll be really selective.
“First of all, they’ve got to be somebody that we’re convinced is going to get a meaningful degree from our school. And then two, they’ve got to bring great value to this list. It’s not going to be, ‘OK, we just had another scholarship available. Let’s just go sign a guy and take a chance.’ That’s not how it’s going to be.”
Bohl said there’s a chance that transfers could be a part of that mix, but that has not been a frequent approach of his at Wyoming.