Today, February 1, 2023 is the second National Signing Day for those in the class of 2023 that have made a commitment to attend and compete for the college of their choice next year. This is when the commitment becomes official, beyond just a verbal agreement. Seniors around the country at all levels are signing their National Letters of Intent (NLI) and Celebratory Signing Letters.
What is National Signing Day?
Signing Day is a celebration of commitment. It can be a stressful process with lots of twists and turns and signing with the right-fit college is a culmination of the process.
NLI’s are binding agreements where the student-athlete agrees to compete for a NCAA Division I or II team for at least one season. However, if something changes, you can ask the school for a release from your NLI. This is something that post-COVID has been much easier to acquire. In a nutshell, National Signing Day should essentially be the end of recruitment unless something out of the ordinary happens. The NLI usually involves some sort of scholarship money or reduction of costs. With soccer scholarships almost always being partial scholarships, the NLI is usually signed in conjunction with a financial aid package from the college itself that can contain things like merit/academic scholarships and other grants/aid.
At the NCAA Division III level, where there is no athletic scholarship money, there is a non-binding celebratory signing letter that is just as meaningful for athletes that have found the right-fit to sign, showing their commitment. NAIA and Junior Colleges also have their own versions of signing letters.
So what does it mean for you?
Seniors: If you are a senior and have not signed yet, trust me, THERE IS STILL TIME TO FIND A RIGHT FIT. You may have to change your focus or look at different options, but there are still opportunities out there. Signing Day often adds pressure to those that are already stressed out and haven’t found the right-fit opportunity yet. Are some doors closed after signing day? The reality is, yes, but there are still so many programs looking for prospects at all levels. Changes happen and roster spots might even open late due to any number of reasons such as transfers, prospects changing their mind, current players quitting and even some failing out of school. Remember that everyone is on a different timeline in this process and the longer you wait, the more doors close, but you can still make playing in college a reality and find a great-fit if you do the right things.
Underclassmen: If you are a junior or sophomore, National Signing Day is a passing of the torch in the recruitment process. National Signing Day for college coaches often means a change in focus from recruiting seniors to their next recruiting classes, juniors and sophomores. Juniors start to feel the pressure of finding the right-fit opportunities and sophomores move into a more important part of a college coach’s funnel of future prospects. Underclassmen become the focal point of recruiting now and need a game plan in regards to how to navigate this process so they can get more exposure. Underclassmen, if they haven’t done so yet, need to start game planning in regards to communicating with coaches, highlight videos, camps, showcases and tournaments.
Today is a day to celebrate those friends and teammates that may have signed, but also for those that aren’t there yet in the recruiting process, it is a time for renewed effort and game-planning.