March 10 Football Spring Practice

Tennessee offensive linemen go through drills during spring practice. March 10, 2020.

Most people know that recruiting is the lifeblood for college athletics. However, not all sports fans know the intricacies that go into the recruiting calendar and when coaches can and can’t recruit.

The SEC has shut down all in-person recruiting for the time being because of the coronavirus and, depending on how long the suspension of in-person recruiting last, it could have a large effect on the 2021 signing class at Tennessee and other schools.

We are currently in what the NCAA calls a quiet period of recruiting, meaning from March 1 to April 14, recruits are allowed to visit and interact with coaches on the university’s campus, but coaches cannot visit players.

Following the end of the quiet period is the evaluation period. During this period, coaches can go on the road and watch athletes train or compete but cannot have any contact with them off campus.

During the evaluation period, schools will host camps on campus in attempt to work with kids and analyze their skills in-person. Recruits can still visit universities and have contact with coaches while there.

The spring evaluation period last from April 15 to May 30. Because of the coronavirus, the 2020 spring evaluation period is in limbo. This is a major detriment to coaches who use this time to get a better look at prospects. It’s also a missed opportunity for a number of prospects who may not be blue chip recruits but feel like they can prove to coaches they belong at a certain school.

Following the end of the spring evaluation period is another quiet period from June 1 to June 21.

A dead period begins on June 22 and goes all the way to July 24. Coaches can have no in-person contact with recruits while in the dead period, which is essentially what is happening now.

The last week of July serves as a quiet period before the dead period, occurring during entire month of August, where high school and college teams alike prepare for their seasons.

With the current projections for the coronavirus, the hope is that football operations can resume around the start of July. However, since July acts as a dead period that doesn’t do much for recruiting.

One would think that after three and a half months of a forced dead period, the NCAA would turn the July dead period into an evaluation or quiet period — a beneficial step for schools and recruits.

Even if they do revoke the July dead period, getting kids on campus could still be a challenge. High school summer training has been cut in half and chances are that high school coaches won’t want their star players missing workouts and practice time for college visits.

This doesn’t mean that recruits won’t visit colleges, but whereas they might have visited four different schools on four different weekends in June, they may only tour two places in July to avoid missing high school workouts.

The extended dead period as a result of the coronavirus could lead to fewer kids signing during the early signing period, Dec. 18 through 20, and instead decide to wait until Feb. 5 to sign.

This would allow recruits to take advantage of the live period from Jan. 17 to Feb. 1. During a live period, recruits can visit a college campus and college coaches can visit recruits at their schools or homes.

With a now shortened recruiting season, teams with kids that got on campus during the week and a half of quiet period in March before the hold on recruiting began are at a greater advantage.

For Tennessee and Jeremy Pruitt, that means recruits like North Carolina natives Payton Page, Jaylen Wright and Jahvaree Ritzie as well as instate tight end Hudson Wolfe are ahead of the game.

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