For Risone Ama and the Eastern Washington football program, the NCAA’s new early signing period is the best of both worlds.
Ama, a standout offensive lineman at Mt. Spokane High School, plans to sign a national letter of intent next week with the Eagles and enjoy the rest of his senior year.
Eastern’s coaches can take comfort that they’ve locked up a solid player and will have one less ball to juggle ahead of the regular signing date on Feb. 7.
“I think it’s nice, signing early and not waiting,” said Ama, a 6-foot-3, 270-pounder who expects to play guard for the Eagles.
“They’ve been contacting me since my sophomore year, and I’ve built a great relationship with them,” said Ama, who’s rated as a two-star recruit by Scout.com.
Eastern and other schools will learn next week how many prospective players will sign binding letters of intent during the early period.
The early signing period – approved last year by an NCAA panel – will last 72 hours, beginning Wednesday and ending Friday. Players who choose to sign early can still take official visits during their senior year, as per longstanding NCAA policy.
However, for future years, the official visit period will move up to April during players’ junior years.
The suspense for schools centers on how many recruits will sign early. For players who do so, they have the opportunity to enroll early and take part in spring ball – though that’s not precluded for those who wait until February.
The biggest drawback, of course, is the finality of early signing – there’s no going back.
Eastern has several other verbal commits who may or may not sign early.
The biggest is quarterback Simon Burkett of Meridian High in Bellingham. The 6-3, 185-pound Burkett, a pocket passer, is rated three stars by Scout.
Another three-star is wide receiver Anthony Stell, a 5-10, 170-pounder from Rainier Beach High in Seattle.
Other verbal commits include cornerback Darrien Simpson (6-1, 160), also of Rainier Beach; tight end Corbin Hartsock (6-4, 230) of Olympia; wide receiver Champ Grayson (6-2, 180) from Kennewick; Josh Jerome (6-2, 275), a defensive lineman from Monroe, Washington; and Brad Godwin (6-6, 285), an offensive lineman from Redlands, California.
Scout.com rates five players as two-star recruits.
Eastern also has verbals from a pair of transfers. Linebacker Dean Sise (6-2, 205) from Kirkland, Washington, played for Navy last year, but reconsidered his future after being sidelined by a concussion.
The Eagles also may have locked up a replacement for All-Big Sky Conference punter Jordan Dascalo, as Utah State punter/kicker Trevor Bowens recently gave his verbal.
No matter what the others decide, Ama is in the Eagles’ nest.
“He’s been a great player for us,” said Mt. Spokane coach Terry Cloer, who’s seen Ama start for three seasons.
“Anytime you can plug on a sophomore for three years, it really solidifies things for you,” Cloer said.
And now Eastern has a solid commit, about to be made official when Ama signs next week.
“I’ve been in contact with the other commits, and they’ve been convincing me,” Ama said. “I can’t wait to be part of the O-line family at Eastern.”