Westview's Ty Simpson among many players affected by NCAA extending recruiting dead period

Michael Odom
Nashville Tennessean

For four-star recruit Ty Simpson,  a typical Saturday in 2019 was spent at a college football game at one of the many schools trying to offer him  a scholarship.

That's not the case in 2020.

The college football recruiting scene, at least in regard to in-person recruiting, has gone dark.

The NCAA Division I Council continues to extend the recruiting dead period, with the latest Jan. 1, meaning athletes are not able to visit college campuses and coaches are unable to visit athletes off campus.

Simpson, a junior at Westview with offers from all 14 SEC schools, is one of many highly recruited athletes taking to Twitter with #LiftTheDeadPeriod so athletes can make an informed decision about their college choice.

"It is a struggle," Simpson said. "I don't want to go in making a blind decision in probably the biggest decision of my life. I hope the NCAA looks at it and decides that we need to allow certain people to go or a certain amount of people."

It has made Simpson's Saturdays different than a year ago.

"On Saturday, I get up, go watch film and see what I did wrong," Simpson said. "And then I do not move from the couch as I try to watch all of the games that I can. But then Sunday, I will be up at UT Martin working to be improved by next Friday."

Christian Brothers junior running back Dallan Hayden, a four-star recruit with offers from Ohio State, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Florida State among others,  now spends Saturday watching college football. That's as close as he can get to the schools that have offered him outside of looking at the campus virtually.

“I guess I just have to keep making good relationships with the schools that are recruiting me and their staffs and take some virtual visits," Hayden said. "Those are very important.”

Summit junior Keaten Wade, who is a four-star recruit at linebacker, said that his recruiting journey recently has been all about virtual tours.

"I can go to their campuses, but I can't go into the facilities and check that stuff out and see what they're all about," Wade said. "It's pretty frustrating but colleges make it work with stuff like virtual tours. They do stay in contact with me pretty much every day. I did a virtual visit with Ole Miss. They showed me videos about their campus and what they have to offer."

Keaten's twin brother Destin Wade, a three-star recruit at quarterback, wants the  opportunity to make an official visit this fall.

"We wanted to visit as many schools as we could during this period but unfortunately, COVID happened and we couldn't," Destin Wade said. "It is frustrating at times, but I just have to be patient and wait for God's timing's up. There are a lot of schools I want to get to."

Oak Ridge junior running back Kendall Jackson has offers from Cincinnati, Duke, Tennessee and Arizona State. He was at the 2019 game between Louisville and Syracuse on Nov. 23.

“It’s kinda different," Jackson said about this season. "I only get to see that game played. I don’t get to see the behind-the-scenes stuff. If and when things clear up with (COVID-19), I can visit these schools that are looking at me and get a feel for their home environment.”

But it all boils back down to the fact that these recruits aren't getting the feel for campus, and that can be scary as 17- and 18-year olds are making decisions that affect the rest of their lives.

The good news for juniors are there is still one year left to take official  visits and be on campus during a game.

“I was hoping to take some visits and get out to some games, but it looks like that’s probably not going to happen due to concerns over COVID," Hayden said. "All I can say is it’s kind of devastating because this is the year where most recruits like myself look forward to taking most of our visits so we can make the best decision.”

Joe Spears, Khari Thompson and Aaron Torres contributed to this story.

Reach Michael Odom at michodom@jacksonsun.com or 731-425-9754. Follow him on Twitter @JSWriterMichael.