BATON ROUGE — I had one of those eureka moments the other day in which one says, "Why didn't I think of this before?"

It was during LSU coach Ed Orgeron's press conference Wednesday about national signing day. He was asked what might cornerback signee Derek Stingley Jr. — the No. 1 overall prospect in the overall country — bring to LSU's suffering punt return game.

"Touchdowns," Orgeron cracked. "I wish he could play in the bowl." 

Well, he should be able to play for LSU in the Fiesta Bowl against Central Florida on Jan. 1 along with all the other college football scholarship signees who graduated from high school in December and are set to begin college the next January as early enrollees.

These guys deserve to truly play "right away," as they say. Not only do they have the necessary, minimum grades in the core curriculum that meet NCAA requirements, they have proven that they have the work ethic and smarts to finish high school five months early. Reward them for being on the ball and their schools for signing smart kids.

Instead of stretching their academic requirements out over the next several months so as to coast through their final high school days and focus on the prom, they chose to get started early with their college education. Now, many or most in reality chose to get started early with their college football careers, but it's still a noteworthy achievement regardless of motivation. And this type of instant gratification would be a good thing.

The coaches and their assistants who put in the work to recruit and sign these select few kids get to see them in action in practice or a game immediately if that coach has taken his team to a bowl. And the kids would get to practice immediately and then play if they're ready.

Imagine the drama this would bring to the early National Signing Day now in December and the buildup to it!

Maybe with a few new choice players on the defensive line, secondary and backfield, Oklahoma now would have a better chance of knocking off Alabama on Dec. 29 in a College Football Playoffs semifinal.

Maybe Notre Dame has a better shot against Clemson in the other semifinal that day if it signs a hot shot tailback a few weeks previously. If he doesn't know all the plays, teach him one or two plays.

If Alabama coach Nick Saban is not too busy turning wayward coaches into consultants, maybe he could finally find a good kicker just in time for another national championship run. What if Saban and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney are going head-to-head for the same kicker or cornerback/kick returner the night before a mid-December signing day?

This could clearly help to spice up the dead period we are experiencing now between the end of the momentum of the regular season and the wait for the playoffs' final four.

It could also add a much-needed jolt to some of the lesser bowls. The bowls could even use the freshly signed recruits to sell tickets and market their match-up.

I can see the billboard now:

"See Derek Stingley Jr. — the No. 1 prospect in the nation — play in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day on ESPN!"  

Orgeron said the following at the press conference, but this could be on a commercial:

"Derek Stingley - the No. 1 player in the country. Think about that, man," he said. "And we are so excited about Derek - one of the best players I've ever recruited in my history of coaching. We are so excited to have Derek."

But here is the best reason for the "Graduate Early-Play Early" rule: The influx of a few talented, truly true freshmen for a bowl would balance out the growing numbers of talented juniors and seniors who opt out of the bowl to prepare for the draft, or just because they're tired of school, the coaches, or more drug tests than they'll see in the NFL. Some are also bowing out of the bowl because their grades would make them ineligible for the bowl anyway. Some may be slipping on their studies in their last semester on purpose because they know they're leaving anyway.

For years now, the best college players are playing three seasons only. Now they're playing three seasons and two bowls.

Former LSU cornerback Andraez "Greedy" Williams, meanwhile, is a "one and done" bowl participant. He only played two seasons and in one bowl last season as he was red-shirted as a true freshman in 2016 and will enter the 2019 NFL Draft as a third-year sophomore. Considering the work LSU put in to recruit and sign Williams and then how it helped him develop by having the depth to allow him to red shirt and grow and learn, why should LSU be punished by losing two years of his eligibility?

If LSU could play Stingley against UCF, it would make the loss of Williams a little easier to fathom. If LSU could play new signee and early enrollee nose tackle Siaki Ika in the Fiesta Bowl, it would make the loss of starting junior nose tackle Ed Alexander easier to fathom. Alexander will be entering the NFL Draft a year early and will not be playing in the bowl.

"This guy can help us right away," Orgeron said of Ika. "He's a mid-year graduate. We're so excited to have him. I've got to credit Bill Busch (LSU secondary coach) for one of the best recruiting jobs I've ever seen in my history of coaching football."

So, let's see him right away, as in two weeks.

Allowing a few early enrollees to practice and perhaps play if ready would also help a team that has suffered injuries that pile up as a season ends. Look at LSU. It is down to one nose tackle for the Fiesta Bowl in Tyler Shelvin with the biceps injury to Breiden Fehoko, who was LSU's original starting nose tackle this season, and the early exit of Alexander. LSU's other starting cornerback, Kristian Fulton, will also not play in the bowl because of an ankle injury. Again, Stingley and Ika would soften those injury losses. 

LSU has been thin at tight end all season. Orgeron just signed an early enrollee tight end in T.K. McClendon of Copiah-Lincoln Community College. He also signed early enrollee offensive tackle Charles Turner of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, who will be converted into a run blocking tight end. Begin the conversion now. Let them play!

The "Graduate Early-Play Early" rule would be college football's answer to the July 31 trade deadline in Major League Baseball — last chance for a tuneup before the postseason. 

The bowl practice days have long served as a convenient avenue for coaches to hold a pre-spring practice and take a look at their younger players anyway. There will just be a few more untested younger players with the new rule.  

Any action in the bowl game for just signed early enrollees would just carry over until the next season as far as red-shirt status. Those who play would still be freshmen next season, obviously.

With the carrot of playing in your new team's next bowl in a few months waving in front of high school players' faces, maybe they will study harder so as to finish earlier.

Chances of injury may be no greater for an early enrollee playing in a bowl before he goes to his first class than his chances of injury in spring football. If an early enrollee does get hurt in bowl practice or the bowl, he does have three or four months to heal for spring football or eight months for August practices.

A sudden jump to real college football without a lot of practices or time in the weight room may be a lot for a guy just in high school, but he was also just playing high school football, too. So he likely still will be in decent shape.

I can't see a December high school graduate playing the next January in a college bowl game any more dangerous than a seasoned college player logging seven overtimes.

It all makes sense. Maybe too much sense for it to become reality.

But think about watching LSU against Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's day and hearing this:

"Deep for the UCF punt is LSU's Derek Stingley Jr. — the No. 1 prospect in the country."

Bowls with fresh recruits could be a ratings bonanza. Think of all the recruiting geeks out there tuning in who often watch games just to watch the true freshmen. In addition to the Under Armour All-America high school game every January, they'd have a real game to watch.