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Citadel head coach Brent Thompson argues a pass interference call against Mercer at Johnson Hagood Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. Michael Pronzato/ Staff

With an early signing day looming in December, Citadel football has sped up its recruiting calendar and already is collecting verbal commitments for the class of 2019.

Traditionally, high school players commit to The Citadel in January and February, after they are able to visit the campus and just before signing day in February.

But the NCAA added a December signing date last year (this year, it’s Dec. 19), and Citadel coach Brent Thompson felt the need to move up the Bulldogs’ calendar. So far, at least seven high school players have publicly announced commitments to The Citadel this summer.

“That’s part of what we’ve been figuring out this offseason, the new recruiting calendar,” Thompson said this week. “Last year, we kind of sat back and signed kids in January, but now we’re finding a lot more FCS-type kids are committing earlier.

“We thought we should push up our timeline a littler earlier to get in the game.”

With Citadel picked 7th in SoCon football, Brent Thompson faces a 'big year'

With A-backs coach J.P. Gunter now also serving as recruiting coordinator, the Bulldogs held three on-campus camps for high school players over the summer, which helps get prospects on campus earlier and more often.

“We’re trying to cultivate as many prospects as we can and treat it like an FBS recruiting department to see if we can get some earlier commitments,” Thompson said. “We’ve gotten a lot more kids on campus, and I think it’s been a good change and a productive change for us.”

Among the seven players who have publicly announced commitments to The Citadel include Tereis Drayton, a 6-2, 270-pound offensive lineman from James Island Charter High School; Nick Grier, a 6-3, 245-pound defensive lineman from South Gwinnett High School in Georgia; Robert Harbor, a 6-0, 275-pound defensive lineman from Richmond, Texas; Samuel Llewellyn, a 5-10, 198-pound running back from Fort Lauderdale, Fla; Antareus Pressley, a 6-1, 155-pound defensive back from Belton-Honea Path; and Michael McDowell, a 6-1, 215-pound linebacker from Boiling Springs High School.

Verbal commitments are not binding; the February signing date is set for Feb. 6.

SoCon instant replay

Three more Southern Conference schools have added instant-replay capability for game officials this season, bringing the total number of schools with instant replay to five.

Samford, Western Carolina and Furman will add instant replay this season, according to a SoCon official, joining The Citadel and Mercer, which were the only teams in the league to have replay last season.

SoCon Notes: League's move to instant replay 'overdue', coaches say

Wofford, Chattanooga, VMI and East Tennessee State will be the remaining SoCon schools without replay in 2018. All schools are supposed to be replay-ready by 2019, the league announced in 2017.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC