Let the Madness Begin: College Football Recruiting Dead Period Comes to an End

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystJanuary 16, 2014

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide arrives at the stadium before playing the Oklahoma Sooners in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Prospects, put your phones on silent. Coaches, get ready to rack up the frequent flyer miles. College football's recruiting "dead period" ended at midnight Wednesday, opening the floodgates for a frenzied final stretch to national signing day.

Under NCAA guidelines, in-person recruiting is prohibited for a month-long span that stretches from Dec. 16 through Jan. 15 and features holiday breaks, postseason All-American games and the American Football Coaches Association convention. With the latest bowl season in the books and signing day quickly approaching, the lift on restrictions permits programs to make final pitches to targeted recruits and their families.

Official visits take center stage during each of the next three weekends. However, the recruiting campaign extends far beyond college campuses.

Coaching staffs spread out across the country to spend time addressing concerns and presenting a case for why a commitment to their respective university makes sense. This morning, student-athletes throughout America will be greeted by coaches at school and in their homes.

Coveted defensive end Lorenzo Carter, a 5-star prospect who propelled Norcross High School (Ga.) to a state title this season, will be a busy man. He received in-school visits from Florida and Georgia this morning, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

New Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin didn't waste any time fueling the fire of a storied SEC rivalry. His first recruiting visit took him to Oxford High School (Ala.), where he met with 5-star running back and Auburn commit Racean Thomas.

There will be an abundance of attempts to flip recruits in the final three weeks of this recruiting cycle, which ends Feb. 5 with national signing day.

Jordan Wagner, who covers Ohio State for ElevenWarriors.com, reported Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer was expected to be in attendance for 4-star tight end Mike Gesicki's basketball game Thursday night. The Southern Regional High School (Manahawkin, N.J.) standout committed to Penn State in October.

Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer reacts during the first half in the 2014 Orange Bowl college football game against the Clemson Tigers at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Just as that news was working its way through social media outlets, Gesicki sent out a tweet of his own.

Rumors, rumors...

Get used to them in large capacity during these coming weeks, folks.

Coaches poaching opposing programs' pledges may cross an ethical line in the minds of some fans, but the pursuit for premier prospects continues until letters of intent are signed, sealed and delivered.

How would you feel if a two-time national champion crossed several state borders to see you play hoops three months after you opted to head elsewhere?

Conversely, coaches also focus on reassuring current committed players to stick with their pact all the way to the finish line. Other options can be extremely tempting at this stage, so it's paramount to provide prospects with positive reinforcement and remind them why they initially committed.

The conclusion of the dead period coincides with another dizzying annual phase of the college football calendar. The coaching carousel continues to alter the landscape for powerhouse football programs.

Florida State, Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Ohio State each underwent seismic changes at coordinator positions in the past week.

Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham left to join newly hired head coach Bobby Petrino at Louisville. Mark Richt responded by stealing defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt away from the Seminoles after a national championship run.

Ohio State lost rising recruiting star and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel to the Houston Texans but swiftly replaced him with longtime Penn State mainstay Larry Johnson. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide hired Kiffin after allowing offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to depart for Michigan.

Texas captured national headlines with the hiring of former Louisville coach Charlie Strong, who must quickly find his bearings in uncharted territory in order to salvage this pivotal 2014 class. His inaugural Longhorns' recruiting journey gets underway with a visit to the home of uncommitted 5-star defensive end Solomon Thomas, according to 247Sports reporter Steve Wiltfong.

And so the madness of college football's offseason meets at this crossroad. New coaches scramble to add a late boost to recruiting efforts while teenage talents try to remain calm under the immense pressure of promises and misdirection.

Like it or not, we're under the three-week mark on our countdown to signing day. Prepare for some intense scrambling, relentless rumors and last-minute surprises.