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The Key Numbers and Terms in Recruiting

With National Signing Day coming up, it's worth a refresher on all the numbers and key terms involved with the process of recruiting. Here are the ones worth remembering.

National Signing Day (NSD)

NSD is the first day where high school recruits can sign National Letters of Intent. It is actually just the first day of a two-month-long window in which recruits can sign NLIs. This year, it spans from February 2 (NSD) to April 1.

National Letter of Intent (NLI)

When we talk of players signing something, this is what they sign. It's a form provided by the NCAA that schools send to recruits for them to sign and return. It is not required that a recruit do an NLI, but by signing one, that player is guaranteed a year of athletic scholarship. Signing one also bans other schools from continuing to recruit a player.


By the time fall practice starts, teams must have only 85 players on scholarship. There are two general strategies for hitting that number: targeting and oversigning. Targeters are coaches who make sure that, once all new recruits are signed in February, there are no more than 85 players promised a scholarship. Oversigners are coaches who sign so many players that they go over that 85-scholarship limit temporarily, figuring that attrition (transfers, medical hardships, graduating benchwarmers who leave the school/team, etc.) will bring them back down by the deadline.

Early Enrollee

A trend in recent years has been high school players graduating a semester early so that they can begin college in January. That way, they can get a head start by participating in spring practice. These players are called early enrollees, and they are very useful in making recruiting math work.

JUCO Transfer

JUCO is short for junior college, though the term JUCO transfer generally gets used for transfers from all kinds of non-four year universities (like military prep schools). The signing period for JUCO transfers is different than the one for high school recruits. This time around, it was December 15 to January 15.


The NCAA allows a school to add no more than 25 scholarships per year. However, early enrollees can either count for the current year or the previous year. So, if a school had 23 scholarships counting towards 2010, it can count up to two early enrollees in January 2011 towards that class. That's one way that schools get around the limit to bring in more than 25 players in a signing class.


Individual conferences (including the SEC) already did this, but as of this year, the NCAA has put a limit of 28 NLIs per signing period into effect. Schools can get around that limit though if they can convince JUCO transfers and/or early enrollees to forgo signing an NLI (as again, NLIs aren't required). Once they enroll and attend class they're on scholarship, so they don't need the scholarship guarantee that the NLI provides.


Greyshirt is the term for a player who signs an NLI but has his scholarship and sometimes his enrollment deferred until the following year. In most cases, greyshirts are players who can't get into school and have to do some grade rehab elsewhere. Other times, greyshirts are handed out by oversigners who find themselves above the 85-scholarship limit with no other way to get under it by the deadline.