One of the stories that I have been tracking over the last month and a half or so is the Bearcats battle to keep the roster to 85 scholarship players and to keep the class of 2012 to the NCAA mandated 25 signees. Currently they are projected to top the 85 scholarship number by 6 and with 30 commits in the class of 2012 they are five over the 25 man rule. Except that they aren't.
The NCAA allows early enrollees to be back counted to the previous years class so long as 1) the fall enrollees from the previous class number less than 25 and 2) the early enrollees are enrolled at the school of their choosing for the Winter Quarter/Spring Semester.
As it happens the Bearcats enrolled 18 new recruits last August and have the ability to back count as many as 7 early enrollees to the class of 2011 and still be good by the 25 man signing limit*. Classes started on Tuesday and this is the conclusion of the first week. So the question is just how many of the 30 members of the class of 2012 have signed on early? Well wouldn't you know, its exactly 7
Here is the list of the early enrollees as of today.
Deionte Buckley, 5'9" 195, RB, Indianapolis
Errol Clarke, 6'1" 215, LB, Miami
Bennie Coney, 6'2" 210, QB, Plant City FL
DeShawn Dowdy, 6'4" 220, DE/TE, Akron
Marcus Foster, 6'1" 190, DB, Troy OH
Trenton Norvell, 6'5" 197, QB, Dayton Beach FL
Josh Posley, 6'1" 235, DE, Indianapolis
Kevin Brown, 6'2" 195, DB, Indianapolis (see note below)
Note Jonathan Burt who was expected to enroll early, hasn't for the Winter quarter, could still for the spring. ditto for Kevin Brown
There are two ways to approach this. Enrolling early is a boon for the development of young players. It just is. Instead of having 8 months off and being thrown to the wolves in the summer, as is the case for most freshmen, these 7 guys are, at most, 2 months removed from their last Football game. They get into a college strength and conditioning program sooner, they get their first experience earlier and they get 15 extra practices in the spring. The coaches love it because they get to see what they have sooner and it gives them how much flexibility they have with the 85/25 rule.
Knowing how many early enrollees the Bearcats have puts a ceiling on the class of 2012. Butch Jones can take signatures from two more prospects on signing day. That would push the class to 32, which is approaching Houston Nutt levels of oversigning. But it could still happen. Because the Bearcats would still take commits from Memphis CB Sheldon Dawson and Miami DE Eric Kinsey.
Keep in mind that there is still a lot that could happen between now and signing day that would push the Bearcats away from a major oversigning issue. There could be a slew decommitments, defections, kids who don't make the grade that would get the Bearcats to 85 naturally. This isn't really a story, not yet. But the threat is there for this to be a major headache for Butch Jones and co. this off season.
Update 1.6.11 Kevin Brown is indeed on campus and enrolled. That makes 8 EE's which brings the total capacity of the class as it currently stands to 31. Brown won't count against the August enrollment, but he can't be dated to previous classes either.