Pandemic’s impact leaves many Arizona high school football seniors left out on National Signing Day

The pandemic, it seems, has impacted just about everything, including the prospects for high school seniors in the class of ’21 hoping to earn a college football scholarship.

Many talented athletes saw their opportunity to sign with a college on Wednesday, National Signing Day, hurt because of several factors. Among them: 

• College coaches couldn’t see the recruits in person last spring and summer because in-person recruiting was shut down by the NCAA.

• The NCAA allowed an extra year of eligibility for players already on college teams.

• The transfer portal turned into the best COVID-19 recruiting turnstile, with more than 2,000 current FCS-scholarship players looking for new homes.

Those last two factors, in particular, squeezed out room for incoming high school prospects.

Highland's Max Davis (27) runs for a first down against Chaparral during the first half of the 6A State Championship game at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Ariz. on Dec. 12, 2020.

“They’ve got film, they’ve got practice and game film of playing at the college level,” Scottsdale Saguaro coach Jason Mohns said, citing advantages current college players have. “It really hurt the 2021s.”

Mohns cited two of his defensive backs, Anthony Gonzales and Taron Thomas, who got left  without a four-year college to sign with because of the changes during the pandemic.