A chain of Facetime connections allowed three-star recruit Gary Mossop Jr. to bring his whole family into a Dec. 6 living room conversation with Troy Calhoun.
Mossop’s mother had one of his sisters on the line at Oklahoma State. His father had another sister at Oklahoma Baptist. And one of those sisters had another device patching through to Georgia where an uncle, a major in the Army, listened in.
After a long talk with the Air Force coach, and with all those eyes electronically looking in, Mossop committed to the Falcons.
“A lot of other places try to sell you gear, they sell you facilities, they sell you jerseys,” said Mossop, a 6-foot, 190-pound safety from Broken Arrow, Okla. “Coach Calhoun sold me football, college life and a career."
The process had begun two weeks earlier when assistant Steed Lobotzke visited Mossop and his parents at school. Calhoun then came to close the deal.
“I committed right there with him in my living room," Mossop said. "Once I committed, I was like, I could sign right now.”
Therefore, for Mossop this first foray for college football into an early signing period was, if anything, a convenience. He said he is excited that his January won’t be filled by being contacted by coaches. He’ll sign Wednesday with Air Force, opting for the Falcons over offers from Army and Navy, among others – the uncle who joined on the Facetime was a West Point grad, while his son, Mossop’s cousin, graduated from Navy. In years past Mossop and other prospects would have had to wait until the first Wednesday in February to make their decisions official.
It remains to be seen how this change that permits recruits to officially sign from Wednesday through Friday will play out at the academy and around the nation. Some indications suggest that this three-day early signing period will essentially become the signing day and replace the one in February in significance.
Then again, Mossop said two of his high school teammates are weighing FBS or FCS offers and neither intends to sign in December as their options continue to become clear.
Calhoun has said he was in favor of moving to an earlier date, as it forces programs and players to show their hand earlier in the process. The Falcons and other Group of Five teams often recruit players who have been led to believe they have offers from Power Five programs. But those offers don’t always materialize when it comes time to officially divvy out scholarships. This will speed up the process of figuring out who remains available and let teams fill their future rosters accordingly.
The service academies are unencumbered by strict scholarship limits (no one pays to attend, meaning there are no scholarships), so they won’t be subject to some of the new twists in this chess match.
On the other hand, because Air Force athletes sign commitment forms but not binding national letters of intent, there is also a chance that even a signee could flip if an opportunity presents itself between the early signing period and February.
In terms of volume, The Gazette has identified about 50 players who have committed to Air Force as of Tuesday – Mossop is one of five three-star recruits in the bunch. By comparison, The Gazette tallied more than 90 signees this past February (Air Force does not release signing day lists because the commitments are not binding and recruits remain subject to the appointment process). So, expect the numbers from this class to grow between Wednesday and the recruiting finish line.
But for Mossop, who plans to enter the academy directly thanks to a 3.5 GPA and 26 on the ACT, that finish line arrived early.