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CIF delays high school sports season until December

The California Interscholastic Federation announced Monday that the high school sports season will not begin until December. CIF gave specific dates as to when each sports’ playoffs needed to end, but allowed individual sections to determine when its specific sports would start.

The CIF Southern Section announced that football practices can begin on Monday, December 14, with the first games on Friday, January 8, 2021. Though the season is delayed, it is scheduled to be a complete season.

Football season lasts 64 days, so the Week 10 game will be played March 12, 2021, with Southern Section Playoffs taking place March 19, March 26 and April 2. The State Championship Bowl Games will be played April 16 and 17.

This means that we’ve absolutely seen the last of many of California’s top recruits on a high school football field, as many plan to graduate early and enroll early at their chosen college.

Defensive tackle and Texas A&M commit Victory Vaka (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake) was quick to announce that he won’t be playing his senior season.

USC quarterback commit Miller Moss (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) is one of several early enrollees in the Trojans 2021 class and at this point it would be surprising if he played this season rather than heading to USC in January. Four-star safety Xamarion Gordon (Downey, Calif./Warren) is planning to skip his senior season and will enroll early at USC.

Fellow four-star safety commit Anthony Beavers (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) was fairly direct as well.

The nation’s No. 1 overall prospect and top USC target, defensive end Korey Foreman (Corona, Calif./Centennial) said the decision to skip his senior season and head to college as an early enrollee would be an easy one.

Wisconsin quarterback commit Deacon Hill (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara) landed on the other side, saying he would delay enrolling early, finish his high school career with his teammates and head to Wisconsin after that.

While this announcement is a positive in that it finalized news that had been causing plenty of confusion and apprehension, it does lead to some significant questions.

Will recruits move to other states in order to get senior film in time for December’s early signing period? Will the NCAA adjust its recruiting calendar if more states make this decision in order to help with that issue? Could players simply compete in 7-on-7 events throughout the fall, as the Southern Section made it allowable for student-athletes to compete with their high school teams and AAU/club teams at the same time?

Jordan Campbell of Winner Circle Athletics mentioned this summer that there was the potential for them to put together a high school football team similar to IMG Academy and play games out of state if the California high school season was canceled, though that plan has been scrapped as there isn’t enough time to prepare for a season. But it shows there are certainly some potentially out-of-the-box ideas being tossed around at how teams and players and groups could maybe go about filling the fall.

Mater Dei and St. John Bosco High Schools–the two preeminent programs in the region, were quick to announce that they’ll be fully ready to go in January.

As far as recruiting goes, this will be an interesting situation to monitor. With games beginning in January and the late signing period beginning in early February, coaches could have difficult and quick decisions to make on finding and pursuing that late bloomer who puts together a great senior season. Colleges could leave spots open in order to add players to classes in March or April, following the conclusion of the high school season.

That doesn’t seem like it will impact USC much, as the Trojans have a huge start on their 2021 recruiting class with 18 commitments already–and remaining targets that have proved themselves plenty in their first three years of high school football. But every year there are players who shoot up the rankings following huge senior seasons and how that plays out is one of the unknowns still following this decision.

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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