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Staff file photo by Robin Rudd / UTC football coach Rusty Wright said he hopes the NCAA will relax some recruiting rules this fall after the summer dead period — during which college campus visits, in-home visits and other face-to-face meetings with prospects are prohibited — was extended through July 31.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Rusty Wright doesn't have any commitments for the 2021 recruiting cycle, and there is a simple reason for that.

"We don't have anybody committed, because I won't take a commitment unless I see him," Wright said Thursday. "Now, if a five-star says he wants to come to Chattanooga to save the world, then we can figure that out, but I don't think having a bunch of commitments in May is the best thing for us. When the camps start in June, July or August, that's usually when we get our first couple."

Not this year.

Wright and other college football coaches had their summer camp visitation opportunities all but decimated this week when the NCAA announced it would be extending its dead period through July 31. College coaches in all sports have been operating under a dead period, when college campus visits, in-home visits and other face-to-face meetings with prospects are prohibited, since March 13 due to coronavirus concerns.

The NCAA's Division I Council Coordination Committee's announcement Wednesday night followed its decision May 13 to extend the dead period through June 30.

"The extension maintains consistent recruiting rules for all sports and allows coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus," Grace Calhoun, the council chair and the athletic director at Pennsylvania, said in a released statement. "The committee is committed to reviewing the dead period again in late June or early July."

In addition to extending the dead period, the NCAA also voted to allow strength and conditioning coaches to virtually observe voluntary workouts for health and safety purposes but only if requested by the student-athlete. That goes into effect on Monday, when NCAA-allowed voluntary workouts can resume.

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart has landed the nation's No. 1 signing class two of the past three years and is having to adjust along with everybody else. Smart said Thursday that May, which obviously has come and gone, is as active as any recruiting month as far as assistants blanketing high schools.

"There is nothing magical that we're doing that other coaches aren't doing," Smart said. "We're all jumping on Zoom. We're doing everything virtually, and that's really the best we can do. Who manages this the best will be important, and a lot of this to me will be about who had the best relationships leading into this.

"At the end of the day, you can only develop so much of a relationship through a phone, through a text and through a virtual activity."

Wright understands the NCAA's extension of the dead period, given that there are parts of the country that have reopened significantly and other areas that have not. He also wasn't shocked, pointing out that July is typically a time when Power Five programs don't stage camps.

That said, this latest extension doesn't do his program any favors.

"It hurts us a lot, and because they've done this, I hope they make some concessions for us in the fall," Wright said. "They have to do something in the fall to give us more time to be around these guys. If they don't do that, we're going to have a very short window of getting to be around them and getting them on campus. That's my biggest concern."

Wright hopes to have all of his current Mocs back by July 1, with preseason camp scheduled to start Aug. 6. That chaotic time of year for Wright, Smart and others will only be enhanced should the NCAA lift the dead period at long last.

"It's going to be crazy, but it's what we've been dealt," Wright said. "The one thing I think that could save us a little bit is that we do practice in the mornings, so we will have some afternoons and evenings to go watch high school practices — at least we're hopeful of that. Like I said, the NCAA has got to get us more time to be on the road and go get those things done.

"If they don't do that, then all we can do is go watch the games on Friday nights. We need to be out there during the week as well and go to as many places as we can. It will be interesting to see."

 

Daniels picks Georgia

Former Southern California quarterback JT Daniels announced via Twitter on Thursday afternoon that he was transferring to Georgia.

Daniels was the nation's No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 2018 signing class behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and played in 11 games as a freshman for the Trojans. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder from Santa Ana, California, completed 216 of 363 (59.5%) passes for 2,672 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

He tore his ACL in last season's opener against Fresno State and entered the NCAA transfer portal in mid-April.

 

Jackson chooses Tide

Alabama is up to six commitments and three in-state commitments for the 2021 recruiting cycle, receiving a nonbinding pledge Thursday from Prattville High School linebacker Ian Jackson. The 6-1, 210-pounder is the nation's No. 15 outside linebacker and No. 235 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings.

Since early March, Jackson has received scholarship offers from LSU, Georgia, Oklahoma, Auburn, Oregon and Miami.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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