The college football recruiting calendar has changed this year.

Instead of everyone cementing plans on the first Wednesday in February, an early signing period has been created and starts today.

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How programs handle the new format remains to be seen, but in Grand Forks, UND hopes to be signing most of its 2018 recruiting class before Christmas.

The Fighting Hawks are expected to sign roughly 20 recruits to National Letters of Intent.

The total number will depend on how many preferred walk-ons and transfers are able to file the proper paperwork in time to be included for this signing period. Otherwise, they will be announced in February.

One of the advantages for the early signing period for FCS programs such as UND is to limit FBS programs from swooping in late in the process and stealing recruits.

However, that still remains a concern with the early signing period as UND has been wary of FBS recruiters the past couple of weeks.

UND's 2018 recruiting class is expected to include a large number from Wisconsin, including cornerback C.J. Siegel of LaCrosse, safety Kadon Kauppinen of Sun Prairie and linebacker Mike Bruner of Mequon.

UND currently has three in-state commitments. The trio of anticipated walk-ons includes Grand Forks Red River wide receiver Tyler Burian, Dickinson Trinity wide receiver Noah Sickler and Fargo South linebacker Victor Isaak.

UND's 2017 season included seniors at kicker, punter and long-snapper, so signing day will be a big day for future Fighting Hawks specialists.

UND plans to sign long snapper Ross Hinders of Johnston, Iowa., and punter Cade Peterson of Kewaskum, Wis.

During last year's recruiting cycle, UND signed Moorhead, Minn., kicker Brady Leach, who redshirted last year.