Early Offer: 2016 targets come off board

Early Offer: 2016 targets come off board

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: It’s been said recruits are committing sooner than ever before and the recent run of pledges in the 2016 class proves to some that an early signing period is needed now more than ever. Plus, if you want to know how competitive it is to recruit in the Southeast, just check out the up-and-down two weeks the Florida Gators have had on the recruiting trail.

It’s never too early

Signing day for the Class of 2016 isn’t for another 555 days, but that hasn’t stopped a high number of ESPN Junior 300 prospects from making early decisions. In the last eight days alone, seven of the best players in next year’s class committed, and overall 47 of the top 300 prospects have made their decisions.

Combined with 61 percent of the 2015 ESPN 300 prospects already off the board, and you can see why many are clamoring for an early signing period in college football.

“You wonder why there’s even a debate about an early signing period,” one Big Ten assistant said on Sunday. “If this last week’s run of juniors committing proves anything, it proves an early signing period has to happen.”

For those that haven’t been keeping track, the run on commitments for 2016 in the last eight days includes Auburn pledge Nate Craig, the No. 6 player overall and the best receiver in the class, and Duke receiver recruit Scott Bracey, the No. 32 player overall. Two other elite receivers came off the board when Keith Gavin picked Florida State and Ahmmon Richards selected Miami. TCU was also able to lock up one of the nation’s elite 2016 quarterbacks when Brennen Wooten committed to the Horned Frogs over a slew of early offers. Then over the weekend, USC scored ESPN 300 athlete Daelin Hayes and South Carolina landed ESPN 300 athlete Kyle Davis.

“Some coaches continue to argue against it, but you can’t continue to bury your head in the sand,” the coach said. “The numbers don’t lie.”

Gators take fans on roller-coaster ride

The Gators have had an up-and-down 10 days on the recruiting trail. Good news came with the commitment of three-star offensive tackle George Brown Jr., and more good news arrived when a number of high-profile prospects were able to make it to Gainesville for the Gators’ annual Friday Night Lights Camp.

But as it often does when recruiting in the Southeast, with the good comes the bad.

Three different players have backed away from commitments from the Gators over the last week and a half. Sources say ESPN 300 safety and new Georgia commitment Deontai Williams and ESPN 300 athlete Jalen Julius weren’t big losses because the Gators like their chances with high-caliber prospects on their board. But the loss of ESPN 300 receiver Tristian Payton definitely stings.

But things could again quickly swing back the other direction for the Gators. Florida is a finalist with UCLA and USF for ESPN 300 athlete Ray-Ray McCloud III, who announces his decision on Monday. Plus, Florida is battling Alabama for ESPN 300 linebacker Adonis Thomas, who also announces on Friday. The Gators were the team to beat for quite some time with Thomas, but Alabama has made a strong push in the last week.