Coined "Show Your Cards Day" by Arizona director of personnel Matt Dudek, Sports Illustrated calls it this "because programs and recruits now have to make their intentions clear to one another while the programs and the recruits still have time to make other arrangements."
Here at LFN, we agree that "Show Your Cards" day is an accurate way of describing the brave new world of football recruiting. And, like all NCAA rules, this affects the Patriot League as well as the Big 10, Pac 12 or any other Division I conference.
For Patriot League programs, what cards are likely to be revealed? What are the recruiting needs of each school going into early signing day? Here at LFN, we take a stab at predicting what might be revealed this week.
Key Player Graduating: DL Abdullah Anderson was the Patriot League's Defensive Player of the Year and was on multiple postseason all-America teams. The 6'4, 295 lb had 9 tackles for loss despite fighting through constant double-teams all season, and he seems likely to be headed to an NFL training camp at the very least - if he's not picked in the NFL draft before that.
Key Depth Need: DL. With Abdullah graduating and a lot of starters going down during the course of the season, defensive line is where the Bison need the most replenishment.
1. DL (depth + starters)
3. DB (depth)
Key Player Graduating: Even though his senior year was messed up somewhat with nagging injuries, DE Pat Afriyie ended up in the second half of the year sucking in double teams to allow DE Nick Wheeler to roam free and terrorize opposing QBs from the other side of the line. He's a great Patriot League defensive lineman that Wheeler in particular will miss a lot.
Key Depth Need: OL. With the whole left side of the O line graduating, including first-team all-Patriot League OL Ryan Paulish, Colgate needs to reload on the offensive line. At the top they have some great names returning, most notably OL Jovaun Woolford, but they need to recruit the Paulish's of the future in this class to get more guys on the roster.
1. OL (2 graduating starters + depth)
2. DL (2 graduating two-deep)
3. DB (depth)
Key Player Graduating: RB Chase Edmonds is leaving Rose Hill as the schools rushing record-holder in, well, pretty much everything. He'll look to get onto an NFL roster this offseason, and he looks a lot like another FCS player that is now a budding star in the NFL: former North Carolina A&T RB Tarik Cohen.
Key Depth Need: QB. It's a fair question to wonder who will be starting at the most important position on the field for the Rams next year, with the graduation of QB Kevin Anderson and his backup, QB Luke Medlock. The heir apparent is an Indiana transfer who is now a junior, QB Austin King, but the truth is Fordham needs their QB of the future in this class - or find out which new transfer will be taking over after King. (Anderson transferred from Marshall; Medlock came from Florida International.)
1. QB (starter graduating, depth, need QB of future)
2. RB (superstar graduating, depth)
3. DL (at least 2 seniors graduating)
Key Player Graduating: QB Peter Pujals was a tremendous starting quarterback for Holy Cross that, when at his best, could almost singlehandedly lift his offense to win football games. A four-year starter that came back for his final year of eligibility last year, his inconsistency - and nagging injuries - was Holy Cross' downfall in the end.
Key Depth Need: DB. While new head football coach Bob Chesney hasn't articulated his offensive strategy yet, one need area that is clear for the Crusaders is at DB, where starting CB Alim Muhammad and a slew of other seniors graduate. Certainly the graduation of the heart and soul of Holy Cross' defense, LB Nick McBeath, is a huge loss, too.
1. DB (depth, starters)
2. WR (depth, starters)
3. DL (depth, starters)
Key Player Graduating: DB David Akere ended his Georgetown career fifth all-time in career tackles with 274, and the Carrolton, Texas native was a lot more than that: he was he unquestioned leader of the Hoya defense, and won't be an easy player to replace for next season.
Key Depth Need: DL. DL Kristian Tate had moved to DL by the end of the season, but his graduation and the graduation of three more DL means that the next great Hoya defensive linemen need to be in this class.
1. OL (depth, improvement)
2. DL (depth)
3. RB (need a star RB)
Key Player Graduating: LB Brandon Bryant returned from injury to finish off a tremendous collegiate career with 133 tackles and establishing the Leopards' identity as a powerful defensive team. Lafayette sees many of their great defensive players graduate this year, but Bryant will be the one missed the most.
Key Depth Need: WR. While some might claim OL is the biggest need area from Lafayette's struggling offense this year, you can say at least that head coach John Garrett at least has a lot of raw material to work with in the trench, while the Leopards will be seeing at least two WR graduate this year, leaving precious few on the roster. They will need a significant skill and depth upgrade at wideout.
1. WR (depth, WR star of future)
2. OL (depth, improvement)
3. DL (depth)
Key Player Graduating: WR Troy Pelletier, as hard as it was to believe, sometimes got lost in terms of what he meant overall to the Lehigh offense. Beneficiary of Lehigh's dynamic, Swiss Army knife offense, his skill at using his body in so many ways to catch the ball (screening defenders, leaping for balls, positioning and routes) was such a weapon that he made the rest of the team around him better. Though he leaves Lehigh as the all-time receptions leader, and owns a lot more records, it's possible the full impact of his graduation hasn't been fully realized yet by the fans.
Key Depth Need: DL. Lehigh's defensive struggles were well-documented last year, but compounding that is the graduation of four players that were on the two-deep last year. Though an experienced group will return in the spring to compete for jobs, there are spots open to fill in depth at this position as well.
1. DL (depth, next great star)
2. OL (depth, 3 graduating starters)
3. RB (running backs of the future)