Recruiting in college football is a complex process that ought to be taken seriously. From the perspective of the college itself, there’s an elaborate strategy for getting talented future students on board. And when it comes to students, they are faced with many crucial decisions which might determine their direction in life.
One of these decisions is, of course, which school to go play for. Some of the best football programs in the USA are Jackson State, Ohio State, Penn State, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Florida State, among a few others as well.
Both sides need to understand how college football recruiting works to make the most of it. This article will explain the crucial aspects involved to give you a thorough understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in college football. This is the case no matter which football-heavy state you come from, whether Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, or anything in between.
Recruiting From the School’s Perspective
When a college recruits a student-athlete, whether a five-star or four-star athlete, it’s a result of an entire cycle of activities that precede the actual signing. Yes, there is a good deal of commitment required here. In particular, there are specific rules that all participants should know.
The first consideration is that future players come to a school of their liking and sign with that institution. However, it’s hard to establish a relationship with an institution that will be as strong as one built with another person. That’s why new students develop close relationships with their coach and develop a sense of commitment and loyalty to that person rather than the college.
In fact, there have been cases where students followed their coach to another school after recruitment. So naturally, such situations can lead to controversies if the coach in question parts ways with the college. That’s the primary reason everyone involved in the process should be aware of the dualistic relationships within college football.
Next, it’s vital to identify the best recruiters. Again, people outside college football might think this is an area dominated by scouts and dictated by the school. Yet, as it turns out, the most effective people in the recruiting process are none other than those previously recruited in the past. These are the people who really have the ability to spot a highest rated prospect.
Future students are far less responsive to phone calls and letters from the coaches but react with greater intensity to a recruiting call from their peers. This, naturally, doesn’t mean that coaches and scouts can’t be good recruiters. However, they can’t always provide the same drive to sign up as the recent recruits who are closer in age and mentality to college prospects.
Early Contact Between the School and the Student
Potential students can sometimes get overwhelmed by college offers, particularly if they’ve shown plenty of promise in their junior years. In fact, it’s pretty standard for outstanding talent to receive hundreds of letters from various schools trying to get them on board. This can sometimes lead to a student being signed during an early signing period.
Unfortunately, students might not respond well to this form of communication. Instead, they can quickly grow tired of sifting through one letter after another and reading pitches from numerous schools. This can be true even if those pitches are exceptionally well-crafted and imaginative. The truth is that many future students prefer their written communication to be brief and concise.
In that regard, phone calls and even the less conventional ways of contact have proven a better initial stepping stone for starting a conversation between the school and the student. It’s all about gaining initial access.
Another critical factor in the college football recruiting process is official and unofficial visits. This refers to the student visiting the school, of course, not the other way around.
After spending a lot of time researching prospects, colleges can invite their future students to visit the campus in an official capacity. However, these official visits can – and often are – somewhat misinterpreted.
The school intends to show the prospect the environment and present all of the benefits of signing up with that particular institution. In addition, the college pays for most expenses during the official visit, including transportation, accommodation, food, and even different kinds of entertainment. Naturally, all of this is an attempt to present the school in the best possible light and make it more attractive to the potential student.
But many students see the invitation more as an opportunity for an all-inclusive paid holiday than a serious affair. In those cases, they go for a vacation and pay little attention to the potential recruitment. This is often the case when high-caliber athletes are involved, such as those with five stars.
For this reason, many schools have started encouraging unofficial visits. These are very different from official visits, mainly because the prospective students visit the campus at their own expense. In other words, they come for a very clear purpose rather than for a free vacation.
Unofficial visits have another advantage over official visits. With official visits, potential students from Division I can visit the campus five times, while unofficial visits are unlimited.
Finally, unofficial visits are a much more reliable way of predicting whether students choose a particular school. If they decide to visit the campus, enrollment chances are much higher. That decision will, in fact, be influenced mainly by the impression the students get during those visits.
When Does the College Football Recruiting Take Place?
Some preconceived notions about the recruiting process might prove false under closer inspection. For instance, many people believe that senior seasons at high schools play an essential role in scouting.
While this might’ve been true 10 or 15 years ago, the cycle today plays out much faster. When exceptional talents start showing up in high schools, college coaches want to be the first to contact the prospect. And waiting for the senior season is simply too great of a risk.
Luckily for coaches, high school athletes can present their highlights using the numerous camps and combines and, most importantly, dedicated websites to upload their reels. This way, the evaluation process can start way before the prospect reaches senior year. As a result, the college already has a good idea of who they want to sign well in advance.
The other misconception about college football recruiting refers to the so-called “dead periods.” These are when the coaches can only contact potential students due to NCAA regulations. As a result, communication isn’t only discouraged but actively prohibited.
Yet, a dead period doesn’t mean the recruiting process grinds to a halt. While coaches will undoubtedly follow the NCAA rules, they won’t take a break from recruiting. In fact, they can’t afford to do that.
In the world of college football, someone is always recruiting, and coaches who slow down the pace will find themselves at a severe disadvantage. That’s why they use specific communication channels that aren’t regulated through NCAA rules and nurture their prospects in various ways that are allowed.
Furthermore, quiet periods also exist, and coaches can communicate with potential students while they’re on campus during those periods. Although no active recruiting should take place for the duration of a quiet period, the limitations aren’t as stringent as during dead periods.
What Should Future Students Pay Attention to During the Recruiting Process?
The pressure in college football recruiting is by no means one-sided. While schools give their all to get the most promising young athletes on board, plenty of students are also eager to enter the college of their liking.
From the student’s perspective, the main focus is on their efforts to stand out and get noticed. And while this might sound relatively simple, finding their place under the spotlight entails many things.
To increase their chances of being noticed by a good school, students will have to go through numerous steps:
- Besides Great Athletic Results, They’ll Need To Perform Well Academically.
- Students Will Need To Learn What Happens In College Football Recruiting And Understand The Vital Stages Of That Process.
- It Will Be Necessary To Determine Which College Could Be The Best Fit.
- Students Will Also Need To Reach Out And Get In Touch With Coaches.
- Plenty Of Attention Is Paid To Video Presentations, So Aspiring Students Will Have To Create A Video Showcasing Their Abilities In The Best Way Possible.
- Getting Into Combines And Camps Is Not Only An Excellent Initial Step Towards College. Today, It’s Almost A Necessity.
- Finally, Different Colleges Have Varying Scholarships, Which Might Be Better Than Others. The Student Will Have To Research And Compare Every Option.
Stepping Into the Spotlight
- The first thing every student can do to increase their chances of enrolling in the college of their choice is to compare their weight and height to current averages. All of the big names out there had to go through this process. This is a crucial step because it can help determine the most suitable position, whether you want to be a defensive lineman, a five-star quarterback, or a five-star wide receiver. Finding the right place for a player is the foundation of future success.
- Creating an excellent highlight video will be next. Videos of this kind allow coaches to see their potential recruits in a competitive sports environment. In fact, this material might be the only opportunity to present the best football performance one can give to a coach. It’s essential to display the right skills that match the players’ previously determined position.
- The other way for students to show a college coach their skills is to sign up for football combines and camps. While this approach can create an opportunity for a live display, it will require extensive research. In addition, there are different camp types, and not all of them will be helpful to all players.
- Sports boarding schools are another venue students can take to improve the possibility of getting into college. These schools replicate the college environment in many ways, from the academic personnel to attendees’ support.
- Students’ support in boarding schools is vital and may represent the most significant benefit. This can be the deciding factor in a student’s journey toward college football.
Getting Informed About the Desired Schools
- While athletic and academic results are undoubtedly pivotal in college football recruiting, students would do well to explore the financial side of things as well. There are various scholarships for different levels, and aspiring students would be wise to learn about their options.
- For example, certain Division levels have more available full scholarships, while the offering is more limited with others:
- • Division I FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools and junior colleges give 85 scholarships.
- • Division I FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) institutions have 63.
- • Division II offers 36 full scholarships.
- • NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) school scholarships are limited to 24.
- All other scholarships are partial, which means they’ll cover only a percentage of a student’s tuition.
- Students who learn how to navigate the variety of offers might find themselves in a much more favorable situation compared to those who enter the system uninformed.
- The other essential element that can help potential students decide on their future school involves getting acquainted with various college football teams. Naturally, this doesn’t mean the student should study every team in the U.S. With almost 900 teams nationwide, that task would be nearly impossible.
- Differentiating the teams according to their divisions, conferences, and location will make the task much easier. However, the student will need to understand what makes each division specific before making their choice.
- Finally, the location will be an essential factor. Some colleges might be situated in more attractive destinations, while others could be pretty remote or in places that simply don’t seem inviting. While the city and state where students spend their college years are undoubtedly important, they shouldn’t be the sole element influencing the decision.
- The school’s program will largely determine the quality of your time in college. And if the program is excellent, it should take precedence over the school’s location.
Navigating the Landscape of College Football Recruiting
- Many elements that play a role in college football recruiting might be entirely invisible to everyone outside the process. However, once students enter that complex ecosystem, they discover its various aspects.
- It’s no wonder that many students get confused by the significant number of matters they need to consider and the choices they need to make. But on the other hand, the prospects who take the time to learn about the process can end up understanding its inner workings even better than some coaches.
- That’s why getting all of the relevant information is so important. Students who enter the recruiting process with a thorough understanding will have an easier time navigating their way around it. As a result, they’ll have a better chance of entering the college they want and bringing the future they imagined closer to reality.