NORMAL — Illinois State football coach Brock Spack will not have to wait through the month of January to sign his next recruiting class.

A new, early NCAA signing period has been approved for Dec. 20-22, and Spack hopes to ink most if not all of his next group of Redbirds before Christmas.

“It clears it up for us, I think, speeds the process up," Spack said. "You kind of find out who is really in your corner, who is a legitimate commit. That’s what I like about it.

“Anybody who says I don’t want to sign on the first signing day is letting you know they’re not committed.”

Spack sees some reasons on both sides to wait until the traditional Signing Day on the first Wednesday in February, which figures to surrender much of its luster.

“If you’ve got a guy who is questionable academically, you could use that to your benefit,” said Spack. “We need to see your seventh semester grades and see how you’re doing. You still have that ability to make sure you sign a guy who is going to make it (into school).”

The early signing period also reduces the time a recruit has to change his mind.

“It’s a huge waste of money. All you’re doing is babysitting your commit,” Spack said of waiting until February to put pen to paper. “If a big guy (FBS program) comes in on them, a majority of the time they are going to flip on you.

"That’s what makes you angry when you lose a guy late. You’re stringing that guy along who is your next guy, and they end up going somewhere else.”

Through various sources, The Pantagraph has confirmed 21 high school seniors who have announced they plan to sign with the Redbirds.

“We’ve had an amazing year so far. We’re happy where we’re at,” said Spack. “We’ve got a couple guys left we’re still recruiting, but we’re winding things down and starting to look at younger guys for the next two years.”

Among those committed to ISU are Normal Community offensive lineman Peter Bussone and Central Catholic long snapper Joey Malinowski.

Other linemen include Peyton Asche of Pearl City, Bobby Lawrence of St. Joseph, Mo., Zach Mueller of Schofield, Wis., Zach Starforth of Peculiar, Mo., and Ty McCaskill of Mishawaka, Ind., on the offensive side as well as Nate Dirkes of Wheeling on defense.

Also committing to the Redbirds on offense are tight ends Nathan Bax of Jefferson City, Mo., and Jacob Carl of Galesburg, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin running back Brian Adams, wide receiver Tristan Bailey of Columbus, Ind., and Indianapolis quarterback Bryce Jefferson.

Other defenders headed to ISU are defensive backs Mike Gardner of Desoto, Texas, Cooper Burton of St. Joseph, Mo., St. Charles East’s Clayton Isbell and Rockford Guilford’s Julian Haynie, and linebackers Giavion Mason of Kankakee McNamara, Kenton Wilhoit of Oak Grove, Mo., Damien Jackson of Elkhart, Ind., and Sterling Newman’s Landen Vesley.

Follow Randy Reinhardt on Twitter: @Pg_Reinhardt

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Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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