Opinion: Mike Bobo used early signing period to his advantage

The NCAA introduced the early signing period in 2018, which allows prospective student-athletes to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) before the traditional National Signing Day in February. Between Dec. 20-22, high school football players are eligible to sign financial agreements with the school of their choice and lock down where they will be furthering their education.

The benefit of the early signing period for coaches is it allows them to see which players are already fully committed to the program. In theory, this should eliminate some of the “poaching” that tends to take place at the last minute. There will always be guys that decide to flip their commitments, but if they do it in December, schools still have two more months to react accordingly and fill out its class.

Players can benefit from the early signing period as well. Ending the recruitment process gives them peace of mind as they head into their final semesters of high school, and allows them to begin preparing for the future with more certainty.

So far, Colorado State seems to be using the early signing period to its advantage. Head coach Mike Bobo and Co. were able to sign 13 players before 11:00 a.m. MT on Wednesday, including Auburn-transfer wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers and cornerback Keevan Bailey.

Myers is a former 5-star recruit and has potential to be the next CSU wide receiver to make it to the NFL. With blazing speed and reliable hands, the 6-foot-2 wide receiver is just what the Rams needed, after losing both Preston Williams and Olabisi Johnson.

Much like his father, Bailey is an absolute ballhawk in the secondary. It would not be surprising at all if the Georgia standout works his way onto the field as a freshman, similarly to how Rashad Ajayi did this season.

Bailey is not the only defensive back that signed on Wednesday though. Safety Caleb Blake (CA.), cornerback Xavier Goldsmith (MI.) and cornerback Brandon Crossley (TX.) will each be spending the next four years in Fort Collins as well. Crossley verbally committed to CSU on Monday and officially put pen to paper Wednesday morning.

CSU also picked up a veteran corner, with JUCO All-American, Andre Neal (College of San Mateo) joining the team. Considering the Rams gave up 2.5 passing touchdowns per game in 2018, the fact that CSU has already spent five scholarships on the secondary shows that defensive coordinator John Jancek is looking to vastly improve his defensive backfield.

Along with the national names, the Rams also signed three players from the Centennial State. Both defensive ends, Aidan Cullen (Palmer Ridge) and Cian Quiroga (Valor Christian) made it official, and long-time commit Kyle Helbig (TE) out of Holy Family HS signed as well.

After a disappointing 2018 season, Bobo deserves high praise for putting together such an impressive 2019 class. The Rams landed high profile athletes from eight different states, and more importantly, CSU was able to fill multiple positions of need, including the offensive and defensive lines.

With two months until the recruiting cycle comes to a close, it will be interesting to see how the Rams fill out the rest of its 2019 class. CSU has not signed a quarterback yet, although there is less of a need with former Nebraska QB Patrick O’Brien on the roster.

The Rams also appear to still be in the mix for cornerback Shilo Sanders, who recently posted on Twitter that he had a great time on his official visit to CSU. If the son of the legendary Deion Sanders chooses to spend his college days in Fort Collins, the 2019 class will likely be viewed as Bobo’s strongest since coming to CSU in 2015.

View CSU’s 2019 signings below:

Alex Azusenis (Tackle)

Keevan Bailey (Cornerback)

Caleb Blake (Safety)

*Nate Craig-Myers (Wide Receiver)

Aidan Cullen (Defensive End)

Xavier Goldsmith (Cornerback)

Jaylen Hearst (Wide Receiver)

Kyle Helbig (Tight End)

*Andre Neal (Cornerback)

*Desmond Noel (Offensive Lineman)

Cian Quiroga (Athlete)

*T.J. Storment (Offensive Line)

Dante Wright (Wide Receiver)

Ty McCullough (Wide Receiver)

* Transfer