Flurry of commits kick off spring

Editor's note: Every Monday in Four Downs, we'll roll out four stories, themes and nuggets from the football recruiting world to tip off your week in proper form. We'll set the table with the stories that need to be told and give you a leg up on the watercooler conversations around the office.

1. Spring has officially sprung

Monday is the start of the spring evaluation period for prospects in the Class of 2014. Even though early recruiting -- i.e. offers to eighth-graders and the emergence of sophomore days -- has diminished the impact of the evaluation period on some levels, it's still one of the most critical periods in the recruiting process.

According to NCAA rules, from April 15 through May 31, college coaches may visit a prospect's high school for two evaluations: once for athletics, and the other has to be for an academic evaluation. If the college coach does both evaluations on the same day, then he is able visit the high school again for another athletic evaluation. The evaluation period is generally meant to coincide with high school spring football practice in Florida, Georgia, Texas and at least 15 other states.

During these visits, coaches aren't allowed to arrange meetings with recruits, but if they happen to have a chance encounter while on campus, the coach can shake the recruit's hand and exchange pleasantries.

It's called the bump rule, and almost every high school coach will tell you that recruiters ask them if they can find a way to bump into a prospect while visiting. It's perfectly all right if a coach just happens to bump into a player while he's sitting in math class or eating lunch in a crowded cafeteria.