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Friday Night Lights, 6.24.16

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley (left) talks with Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and Jaevon McQuitty during a Friday Night Lights camp at Memorial Stadium last June.

It looks like we have two national recruiting holidays now. For certain there are some grad assistant coaches around the country pumping their fists.

An earlier signing day has been approved, and FBS programs can add a 10th full-time assistant coach. Nebraska can officially add that position on Jan. 9.

The NCAA Division I Council put its stamp of approval on those big-ticket items on Friday, moving up the recruiting calendar while doing so.

If the package is approved by the Board of Governors on April 26, the signing period change would take effect Aug. 1.

What is changing?

* There will be an early signing period in December, beginning on the third Wednesday of that month. Previously, recruits could not sign until the first Wednesday in February — a day that became akin to a holiday to those who follow recruiting closely.

* Recruits will be able to make official visits in the spring and early summer now if they so choose. Such visits will be allowed starting April 1 of a recruit's junior year and ending the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June of that year. Official visits can't be connected with a prospect’s participation in a school's camp or clinic, however.

* FBS schools will no longer be able to hire people close to a prospective student-athlete for a two-year period before and after the student’s anticipated and actual enrollment at the school. It is a rule that has been in place with men's basketball since 2010.

* FBS schools will be limited to signing 25 in a class, a mark of legislation intended to further quash the practice of oversigning.

Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst was a co-chair on the Football Oversight Committee that helped push forward these changes.

"Today's adoption of the football legislation marks the most significant progress in recent years to improve the football environment and culture for current and prospective student-athletes and coaches," committee chairman Jim Phillips said in a statement. Phillips is Northwestern's vice president for athletics and recreation.

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What are those in Nebraska football offices thinking?

Husker head coach Mike Riley has expressed the positives that could come with an earlier signing period, though he noted on this past National Signing Day he would also like to see players be able to sign in the summer.

"If that indeed becomes the situation where you can visit April, May, June, and can't sign until mid-December, do you want that visit then (in the spring) or do we want that visit at a game?" Riley said then.

"If we could have that visit and then sign guys July 1, let's do it. … Now we have some decisions to make on the visits. There is some strategy involved that I'm not sure about."

Even as it is, NU staffers will no doubt appreciate the opportunity for recruits to start official visits in the spring.

As Riley said in February, "About half of our signees have been on our campus before July 1. It will be great to be able to pay for that visit. I think that's right for these families."

Riley will also be delighted by the opportunity to add a 10th full-time assistant to his staff next year. Grad assistant Tavita Thompson, who works with Nebraska tight ends, has been said to be a strong option, though Riley himself hasn't said publicly for sure who he'd put in that opening.

Riley has been passionate about the need for FBS teams to employ a 10th full-time assistant.

"I think it's long overdue," he said in October. "We have lots of coaches, but we actually have what you would say is the worst student-teacher ratio of all the sports.

"And when you're talking about managing the combination of recruiting and coaching your guys and mentoring your guys, and making sure they're doing the right thing in school and off the field, then more hands on deck that are full-time people are good."

Riley had more to say about the subject that day. He finished by smiling and saying, "I don't mean to get on a soapbox, but it's been on my mind a long time."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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