The NCAA in May authorized a 72-hour window for high school athletes to sign their National Letters of Intent — binding pledges of attendance to a university — a month and a half early.

For years, graduating seniors waited until National Signing Day the first Wednesday in February to sign those letters and officially end a years-long process of choosing a college destination. The early signing period decreed last spring was designed to give student athletes who have made up their minds an early opt-out from the attention shoved at teenagers making a decision fraught with irregularities and a whole lot of stress.

But the early signing window has often forced prospects to expedite their recruitment process and make college choices based on the availability of roster spots, players and coaches have told The Washington Post.

Here are the top recruits in the Washington area who signed NLIs on Wednesday — or are expected to sign — and where they’ll be headed to college:

Spencer Anderson, OL, McNamara

Signed to Maryland

All-Met honorable mention tackle is sturdy and well-tested as a pass-blocker, and a mobile and athletic run-blocker. He also had offers from Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest, among others.

Donta Anthony Jr., TE, Potomac (Md.)

Signed to Old Dominion

The Monarchs were drawn to Anthony for his size: 6-foot-6, 215 pounds. With soft hands, he emerged his senior season as a reliable pass-catcher and mid-major recruiting target. He also had scholarship offers from Bowling Green and Stony Brook, among others.

Tyler Baylor, LB, Good Counsel

Signed to Maryland

The older of a pair of talented Falcons linebackers, Baylor is most effective as an edge rusher rather than a run-stuffer or in pass defense. Maryland coaches were drawn to his athleticism — he also starts for the Good Counsel basketball team — and his frame, 6-4, 220 pounds, which caught the eye of Southeastern Conference programs.

Doc Bonner, QB, Quince Orchard

Signed to Dartmouth

Bonner led the Cougars to a second straight Maryland 4A championship game and won All-Met first team honors in the process. He threw for 2,259 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 65 percent of his passes. He also ran for 789 yards and 15 more scores. Bonner is accurate from the pocket and does well extending plays with his legs. He has a strong arm and can throw on the run. Larger Division I schools were wary of his frame, just 5-foot-11, 185 pounds.

Raymond Boone, DB, Eleanor Roosevelt

Signed to Maryland

Boone is a hard-hitting safety who anchored the Raiders’ defense and led the team to a Maryland 4A South final. The first-team All-Met selection is an explosive athlete with top-line speed and a fundamental tackler. He’s physical with receivers down the field and received interest from Alabama and Virginia Tech. Scouts point to Boone as the kind of prospect who can help physically transform the Terrapins’ roster to compete in the Big Ten.

Ryan Carroll, DB, Potomac (Md.)

Signed to Connecticut

Carroll led an inconsistent Wolverine team that leaned on its defense for turnovers and late-game stops. Even on defense, he has a burst with the ball in his hands, and made an impact on Potomac’s special teams as a kick-blocking specialist. He also had recruiting interest from Maryland.

Rafael Checa, K, St. John’s

Signed to Penn State

Checa, an All-Met first teamer, punted and place kicked for the WCAC champion Cadets, but will likely only do the latter in Happy Valley. He averaged 42 yards per punt his senior season, made all 44 of his extra points and hit 11 of 14 field goals, including a 47-yarder.

Brian Cobbs, WR, Hayfield

Signed to Maryland

Cobbs, a first-team All-Met honoree, led the Hawks in receiving, rushing and passing, after Coach Eric Henderson made him the starter with four games left on the schedule. He caught 39 passes for 507 yards and nine touchdowns. He ran for 766 yards and 10 scores. He threw for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns. Maryland coaches have told him he can play both in the slot or out wide at receiver. North Carolina State and Maryland fought over Cobbs all through the summer, and Maryland won out thanks to the receiver’s relationship with Terps’ quarterback Caleb Henderson, the Hayfield coach’s son. Cobbs held out for an offer from Penn State, but when Nittany Lions coaches hesitated, he broke for Maryland.

Dontay Demus, WR, Friendship Collegiate

Signed to Maryland

Demus is the prototypical big-play wide-out Maryland coaches have pursued for years. Without much reliable quarterback play, Demus, a second-team All-Met honoree, still terrorized defenses with speed and sure hands and hauled in catches from often impossible-looking angles. He also had scholarship offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin and Louisville.

Vincent Flythe III, CB, H.D. Woodson

Signed to Maryland

Many scouts considered Flythe, a second-team All-Met selection, the top cover cornerback in the District his senior season. It helped that H.D. Woodson coaches were fond of leaving Flythe in single-coverage situations, where he continued to impress college coaches. He drew offers from Maryland, Kentucky, Georgia, Wisconsin, Louisville and Temple. He chose the Terrapins and will enroll in courses in College Park for the spring semester.

Austin Fontaine, DL, DeMatha

Signed to Maryland

Fontaine is the Terrapin’s top-ranked recruit so far, though Coach DJ Durkin is hoping to swing a few nationally renown prospects on signing day in February. At 6-3, 309 pounds, Fontaine can fill a hole for Maryland in the middle of its defensive line and help push back against the Big Ten offensive fronts that dominated the Terps in 2017.

Daniel George, WR, Oxon Hill

Signed to Penn State

A strong performance at “The Opening” regional skills combine in April shot George, a two-time first-team All-Met wide receiver, up the recruiting rankings. At 6-foot-2, 201 pounds, his physical style, powerful presence downfield and speed made him a favorite of quarterbacks and evaluators alike. He caught 61 passes for 888 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2017. He also considered offers from Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Louisville and Maryland, among others.

Jesus Gibbs, OL, Potomac (Va.)

Signed to South Carolina

Gibbs, an All-Met honorable mention selection, has a frame fit for a Southeastern Conference offensive line: 6-foot-4, 265 pounds. He also entertained scholarship offers from Virginia, Vanderbilt and Syracuse.

Devonte Gordon, OL, Maret

Signed to Wake Forest

Maret coaches called Gordon, an All-Met second teamer, arguably the best player to ever come through the school. He specializes in run blocking and chose Wake Forest over North Carolina State and Virginia.

Evan Gregory, OL, DeMatha

Signed to Maryland

Gregory is another player Maryland hopes can physically transform its roster to look and play like a Big Ten contender. Gregory had offers from Penn State, West Virginia and North Carolina, but never entertained schools outside of Maryland. He’ll continue a pipeline Durkin has installed from DeMatha in Hyattsville to Maryland Stadium down the road in College Park.

Edward Hendrix, WR, H.D. Woodson

Signed to Syracuse

Like Dontay Demus, Hendrix is an All-Met second team selection and a pure pass catcher. He developed an expertise pulling down jump balls and is physical at the top of his routes. He developed a strong connection with Syracuse Coach Dino Babers during a visit to campus and committed soon after, declining repeated requests to entertain other schools.

Dashaun Jerkins, LB, Woodbridge

Signed to Vanderbilt

The All-Met first teamer did a little bit of everything on defense for Woodbridge. He played safety in heavy sets and linebacker in the Vikings’ base defense. He rushed the passer and defended in man coverage. Twice voted a team captain, he led Woodbridge within one game of reaching the Virginia Class 6 state championship.

Michael Jurgens, OL, Damascus

Signed to Wake Forest

Jurgens, a first-team All-Met honoree, and Damascus’s nasty offensive line led the Hornets to their third straight Maryland state title. Damascus won a pair of 3A titles in 2015 and 2016, then dropped down to 2A and won that championship in dominant fashion in 2017. Jurgens at right tackle helped the Hornets’ rushing attack score 31 touchdowns on the ground.

Jeffrey Keene, DE, Potomac (Md.)

Signed to Hawaii

Keene spent a year at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, but will sign with the Potomac (Md.) class, where he’s remained close to the program even after graduation. Keene also entertained an offer from Old Dominion.

Ty Lenhart, QB, DeMatha

Signed to Columbia

Even as Lenhart struggled to lead a young offense his senior season, teammates continued to vote him a team captain week after week. Colleges like strong arm and sneaky athleticism from the pocket. He is an excellent play-action passer. After a standout performance against Bishop Gorman (Nev.) to open the season, Big Ten schools showed interest in Lenhart, but he decided on Columbia just before the end of the season.

Dominic Lyles, WR, DeMatha

Signed to Bucknell

Lyles is a strong deep-threat with crisp route-running skills the speed to outrun defensive backs. He played a larger role later in the season as the Stags’ threw downfield more often after injuries in the running game. He was also being pursued by the U.S. service academies.

A.J. Lytton, DB, Wise

Signed to Florida State

The All-Met defensive player of the year was not supposed to sign with the Seminoles until February — Alabama made a late push after Jimbo Fisher left Tallahassee, and Lytton entertained the attention — but developed a strong relationship with new Florida State Coach Willie Taggart and signed early. Wise used Lytton as both a shut-down cornerback and a deep safety. In man-coverage, he was practically unbeatable at the high school level. As a safety, he had enough speed to line up in the box and still cover a deep zone.

Grant Misch, LB, Potomac Falls

Signed to Virginia

The All-Met honorable mention honoree was part of a duo of standout linebackers that helped Potomac Falls to a fifth-straight playoff appearance. Misch also had interest from West Virginia, Virginia Tech and the United States service academies.

Chauncey Moore, DB, Friendship Collegiate

Signed to Temple

Moore is an aggressive and instinctual defender. At Friendship Collegiate, he excelled as a deep safety who could read route patterns while looking in the backfield. He also gathered offers from the U.S. service academies and a handful of FCS programs.

John Morgan, DL, DeMatha

Signed to Pittsburgh

A true edge rusher, Morgan and the Stags’ defense kept an unusually inconsistent DeMatha team a contender in the WCAC. Morgan also received interest from Penn State, Virginia Tech and Maryland.

Durell Nchami, LB, Paint Branch

Signed to Maryland

Montgomery County’s most imposing defender, a first-team All-Met selection, had 10 tackles for loss, seven sacks and three fumble recoveries from his outside linebacker spot. He also had offers from Virginia Tech, Temple and Syracuse.

Johnnie Pitman, CB, Potomac (Md.)

Signed to UNC-Charlotte

Pitman is a sure tackler in run support and has a nose for the football. Wolverines coaches were not shy in 2017 about using him in man coverage against a team’s top wideout. He shows excellent physicality and great break at the top of routes. He also considered Army, Navy and Ohio.

Aidan Rafferty, OL, Gonzaga

Signed to Indiana

A powerful run-blocker and first-team All-Met honoree, Rafferty helped stabilize Gonzaga’s offense and provide good pass protection. Rafferty also had strong interest from other Big Ten and Ivy League schools.

Ricky Slade, RB, Hylton

Signed to Penn State

Arguably the nation’s top back and an All-Met first team selection, Slade verbally committed to Penn State on National Signing Day 2017 and spent his senior season tearing up defenses and helping Nittany Lions coaches swing other potential recruits. He gobbled up 12.3 yards per carry and scored 30 touchdowns rushing.

Dillon Spalding, WR, South County

Signed to West Virginia

Spalding, a two-time All-Met first teamer, chose between West Virginia and Michigan, which entered his recruitment well into the middle of his senior season. Wolverines Coach Jim Harbaugh saw Spalding, at 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, fitting all around his offense, in the slot, in the backfield, even as a blocking tight end. Mountaineers Coach Dana Holgorsen saw Spalding, who caught 43 passes for 916 yards and 14 scores, as a true wideout in West Virginia’s run and gun offense. Spalding went with the Mountaineers.

Judson Tallendier, CB, DeMatha

Signed to Pittsburgh

DeMatha asks about the same thing of its cornerbacks as Pittsburgh: play up on the line of scrimmage, press receivers into a bad release off the line and make tackles in run support. For a defense that carried the Stags in 2016, Tallendier was a bright spot who helped DeMatha stay organized and press offenses into uncomfortable downs and distances. Tallendier also received recruiting attention from Georgia, Arizona, Kentucky, Maryland, N.C. State, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse and Wake Forest.

Noah Taylor, LB, Avalon

Signed to Virginia

Taylor played as a heavy safety or light linebacker on Avalon’s defense. That mold has become increasingly popular for college scouts as they search for defenders who can play in run support, defend tight ends in man coverage and hold their own against slot receivers on third down. The Cavaliers hope Taylor can do all three. He also had interest from Kentucky and Indiana.

Anthony Toro, TE, DeMatha

Signed to Delaware

Toro’s ability as a blocker made him a key cog in the Stags’ running game. DeMatha had no qualms lining him up as a de facto extra offensive tackle. Defenses hated that he could catch passes as well. He also played linebacker and had offers from New Mexico and Old Dominion.

Jermaine Waller, DB, Avalon

Signed to Virginia Tech

Waller chose the Hokies out of a top seven schools that included Virginia, Maryland, Temple, Virginia Tech, Connecticut, North Carolina State and Rutgers.

Daesean Winston, LB, Spalding

Signed to Temple

Winston had strong mid-major offers, but during a visit to Philadelphia over the summer, said Temple was his clear favorite. He committed to the Owls the very next day.