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Report: The NCAA will consider implementing an early signing period for college football

Chenavis Evans, left, and d Allan Evans, right, watch as their son Rashaan Evans dons an Alabama hat as the Auburn High School football player announces that he will attend Alabama during a national signing day ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Auburn, Ala
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Chenavis Evans, left, and d Allan Evans, right, watch as their son Rashaan Evans dons an Alabama hat as the Auburn High School football player announces that he will attend Alabama during a national signing day ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

An oft-discussed alteration to the college football recruiting schedule has again been brought into consideration moving forward.

Susan Peal, the NCAA associate director of operations, told ESPN.com that steps are being taken toward offering an early signing period due to the “continued acceleration” of the recruiting process. The Conference Commissioners Association will consider an earlier date for prospects to sign with schools “to supplement the long-existing date in February.”

The potential model for college football’s early signing period would be similar to the structure that already exists in college basketball and other sports.

“I think everyone wants an early signing period,” Peal said. “It’s just trying to nail down what’s the appropriate date for that.”

Peal acknowledged that the issue has been brought up in the past, but that there is “more momentum” for the change now than there has been in the past.

“I think there’s more momentum now than ever just because of the changes that are happening with recruiting regulations,” said Peal. “The landscape is changing, so it’s time to look at it again.”

Under the current format, prospects cannot sign a National Letter of Intent with an institution until national signing day – the first Wednesday in February. If an early signing period were to be established, prospects would be able to make their verbal commitments official at an earlier, yet to be determined date instead of waiting until February.

Prospects often make verbal commitments long in advance of national signing day. An early signing period could expedite the additional recruiting verbally committed prospects go through in the stretch run leading up to signing day. Schools also would be able to save the resources they would use to continue recruiting players who have been committed to their program for several months.

Peal said the NCAA has surveyed coaches about the potential for the early signing period. The main concern coaches have is coming to a consensus on what the best date would be and others have concern about making alterations to the long-standing recruiting calendar.

“I know the SEC coaches are not in favor of changing the recruiting calendar,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said last month. “If things start moving up, it changes the way we’ve been doing things for a long time.”

Peal added that she is unsure when the rule could potentially be implemented, but said that the addition of an early signing period would correspond with NCAA legislation that could allow early official visits.

The Conference Commissioners Association will meet in June, so the potential for an early signing period will be an issue to keep an eye on.

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