Penn State commit Isaiah Humphries — a three-star safety out of Texas — has waited for months to become part of the first-ever football class to sign before February.
And he can’t wait for Wednesday morning, when he’ll officially become a Nittany Lion.
“There’s no reason to wait,” Humphries said. “It’s good for guys to sign early. You know your spot is secured.”
For close to 37 years, National Signing Day has been a constant: the first Wednesday of February. All that changed this season, though. Now, starting at 7 a.m. Wednesday, an early signing period begins and continues until 11:59 p.m. Friday.
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Players can still sign again starting Feb. 7. But Wednesday essentially marks a new National Signing Day of sorts.
“We’re all excited to get the recruiting process over with,” four-star tight end Pat Freiermuth said. “We’re kind of done with all the rankings and all the other stuff that comes with it.”
Penn State is expected to bring on 20 new Nittany Lions, give or take a couple, and all but solidify a top-10 class for the first time since 2006. The Nittany Lions are No. 5 in the country and second-best in the Big Ten, per 247 Sports, with 20 verbal commits and a few more possible additions.
Franklin has been a fan of the early signing period from the get-go. Kids can wait out the early 72-hour window and still sign their letters of intent on Feb. 7 or later if they want. But as Freiermuth mentioned, this opportunity allows longtime commits to get it all over with.
“I’d say 85 percent of your recruiting class has been committed for nine months,” Franklin said of major college football in general. “There’s an aspect of it toward the end where you’re just kind of going and checking on a guy that you really don’t need to be checking on. He’s solid. His family is solid. His high school coach is solid, and they are coming. But you still feel like you need to keep going back and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.”
For those college coaches, it’s unnecessary. For recruits, it’s a burden.
Humphries — the No. 36 ranked safety in the nation — pledged to Penn State on Dec. 31, 2016, two days before Penn State faced Southern California in the Rose Bowl. Since committing to Penn State, he received offers from Notre Dame, Oregon, Baylor, Arkansas and Kansas without budging. With the early signing period, Humphries is saving 50 days of Franklin checking in and other schools begging him for attention.
Like Humphries, Freiermuth verbally committed to the Nittany Lions before the early signing period was announced in May. Freiermuth, the No. 1 player in Massachusetts, picked Penn State on Aug. 16, 2016 — prior to Trace McSorley even started a game in Happy Valley.
Freiermuth understands why the early signing period might not be for everyone. There are unstable situations with coaches potentially leaving after bowl games. McSorley mentioned a month ago that had the early signing period been in-play years ago, he would’ve committed to Vanderbilt in December — and then been stuck there while Franklin jumped to Penn State.
But Freiermuth said for those who are confident in coaching staffs and schools, the 72-hour window is a positive. Jake Pinegar, the No. 8 placekicker in the nation, is of the same thinking. “The sooner I can make it official, the better,” the Iowa native added.
Pinegar, Humphries and Freiermuth don’t foresee any issues, with most of Penn State’s verbal commitments expected to sign Wednesday.
The only real drama should be five-star defensive end Micah Parsons’ announcement. According to 247 Sports’ Crystal Ball predictions, there is a 96 percent chance Parsons — who previously committed to then decommitted from Penn State — comes back to the Nittany Lions.
Outside of that, the historic and welcomed early signing period should be smooth sailing for Penn State.
“We’ve had the mentality from Day 1 that if we got offered and committed, this is where we wanted to go no matter what,” Pinegar said of the class. “We’re committing to Coach Franklin. We’re committing to the college itself. It’s all beneficial.”