Dan Mullen eyes earlier signing date

HOOVER, Ala. -- Some coaches want an early signing period for recruits, and you can count Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen among that contingent.

The veteran head coach, who addressed reporters at SEC media days Tuesday, said he thinks one is on the way soon.

"I think the early signing is coming," Mullen said. "There's going to be an early signing point here in the near future."

Currently, the signing period for high school recruits begins the first Wednesday of each February. With so many highly regarded prospects verbally committing to schools in their junior -- and sometimes sophomore -- seasons, some coaches feel like it would be beneficial to add an early period before the current one to allow recruits who know where they want to go to make their pledges official.

Mullen said an early signing day was a topic of discussion among coaches at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida, and myriad aspects of it were talked about.

"What we proposed was not changing the calendars by guys not being able to take official visits," Mullen said. "You don't have to rush to get guys visiting on campus. It's for guys that have been on campus 10 times, have been committed to you for a long period of time, they can sign.

"Get some of the silly parts that go on in recruiting out of the way so they can focus on their academics, not constantly being pulled out of class. By doing it later in the school year from that, it gives the players an opportunity to see, 'Hey, is the coach going to be here or not? Where is the program at so I can get through basically a whole regular season, see where the program's at.'"

Mullen said being signed early could benefit high school coaches and the recruits themselves, who might not play as hard because of concerns of injuring themselves and risking losing their scholarships. Signing a letter of intent early, binding the prospect to the school, could alleviate that concern, Mullen said.

"Also [it] doesn't disrupt a lot of their seasons where guys are signing before their senior year and maybe have a different outlook or a different way that they're playing, which high school coaches have said sometimes the guys are playing not to get hurt," Mullen said. "They want to play their high school year and finish out their year the right way.

"As you look at all the different points, not just have an early signing, throw it out there, let's look at what an early signing is going to do -- what the purpose of it is, what's the best way to make that happen."