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HARLAN — Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell has been a proponent of an early signing period dating back to his tenure at Toledo.
Last week, the Collegiate Commissioners Association made it happen.
Beginning on Dec. 20, 2017 there will be a 72-hour window in which student-athletes can sign their national intent, aligning with the junior college signing period. The previous model allowed only those who were graduating high school early to sign letters ahead of the February date.
“I think at the end of it what it does for kids and what it does for us is it allows us to sort stuff out,” Campbell said during the first stop of the Cyclone Tailgate Tour. “You’re going to know where kids stand.
“I think you’re going to know what kids are really in it with you, and I think you as a coach have to do a really good job of making sure you know what that looks like and feels like as you come to December. But it does clear the path for you as you head into the month of January, too.”
The early signing period is perhaps the most noteworthy component of the legislation approved by the Division I Council, and is a benefit to a school like Iowa State. Under the new model, the Cyclones would be able to secure a number of commitments and use the last month of the recruiting process to chase late-decision targets.
Signing players early also lessens the chances of Iowa State, as well as other less nationally prominent football programs, from getting recruits poached by bigger schools. Campbell said the benefit this new rule gives to Iowa State is the same one he hoped to get at Toledo.
“Those kids that are committed to you that you know they’re coming to school here, you feel like it is your due diligence to go out there in January,” Campbell said of the old rule. “Just the financial factor of not having to No. 1, waste their time and No. 2, put your time and effort into that aspect of it.
“... we’ll have to finish in the month of January but also have the ability to confirm and then really put our teeth into that next recruiting class, which I think will really help us.”
Another piece of that approved legislation is for schools to add a 10th full-time on-field assistant, which will take effect Jan. 9, 2018. Schools currently are allowed to only have nine on-field assistants. Campbell already has some ideas on who that coach could be.
“We’ve got Joe Houston, a really talented young coach on our staff as a quality control coach that does a lot for that,” Campbell said. “Do we move into that direction? I definitely think somebody takes over special teams wholeheartedly with the 10th assistant.”
Wide receivers coach Bryan Gasser doubles up as the special teams coach as well, but Houston’s background — he was a kicker at USC from 2007-10 — would aid the Cyclones twofold. It gives Houston the ability to be hands-on with the special teams and gives Gasser a chance to spend the majority of his time focused on receivers.
“You can be a special teams coordinator and the X’s and O’s of it, but when you don’t understand the skill and the craft of it, it’s hard to get your guys better,” Campbell said. “I’ve always been a big believer to have somebody around your program who understands (the skill and craft of special teams) and Joe brings all of those qualities.”
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