As recruiting has gotten more visible recently since the rise of the Internets, so has the intensity of the process. Here are three reasons why an early signing period is a good thing for college football:
1. Let the recruit get it over with. An unsigned, high profile football recruit gets all sorts of attention, whether wanted or not. I'd imagine that every phone within twenty yards of Terrelle Pryor was ringing during his very drawn out recruitment. It's not just the constant phone calls from coaches. Newspapers, ESPNU, Rivals, and Scout all call these guys constantly before signing day.
Not every recruit enjoys that stuff. Why not let the guys that know where they want to go sign with their school of choice? That way they can avoid the constant phone calls, sales pitches from coaches, and big wireless bills. The recent trend of early commitments hasn't stopped the attention, but signing would. Go ahead and let the kid make it official by removing all doubt about his status.
2. Let the coaches better marshal recruiting resources. It costs a bunch of cash to visit recruits, call them constantly, and sufficiently dote over them. These expenses don't end with a verbal. Coaches still have to babysit those guys, too. If some recruits could go ahead and sign, that would free up dollars and time to focus on uncommitted prospects. By the way, this issue seems tailor made for the smaller D-1 schools because they don't have as many resources to devote to recruiting.
3. Let everyone know when a commitment is wavering. There was serious consternation when Dwayne Allen pulled the ol' switcharoo on signing day this year, jilting Georgia for Clemson. Not only did it mean we lost a good player in Allen, but we might have lost two because Omar Hunter and Zebrie Sanders thought we didn't have room. Allen had committed to UGA very early in the recruiting process. With an early signing period, the staff could have known that Allen wasn't 100% sure about UGA if he didn't sign and they could have recruited appropriately. Clemson, in turn, could have known the same thing about A.J. Harmon. Or Texas could have known about Ryan Perrilloux (I think that worked out OK for them, though.)
Another recent trend in recruiting has been the insurance approach by recruits. They commit to a school who offers, but still look around and continue to entertain coaches. They essentially say "if a better deal doesn't come along, I'm going to the school I'm committed to." This plays havoc with any coach's ability to put together a complete signing class. An early signing period won't eliminate that type of thing, but it will put the coaches on notice as to who is playing the game.