I am a junior in the football recruiting process with attention and no current scholarship offers on the table. What should I be doing in March

The top football players in the junior class have already started to secure scholarship offers from some of the top college programs across the country.  But in most cases, these are the freak athletes who will end up with multiple offers from a variety of college coaches.  My guess is that most readers are the ones that are going to be working and plugging along to get an offer.

So if you are in the boat that there is interest but no offers, what should you be doing now?  What direction should you be heading in right now?  This type of article has been extremely popular over the last six months so we thought we would continue with it for March of your junior season.

Getting letters and receiving early recruiting interest means that you are on the recruiting databases of some college coaches.  That is a great thing but that is just an early part of the battle.  In order to get a scholarship, the coaches that are recruiting you will only continue to evaluate you.

Due to NCAA rules, the major way that these college coaches evaluate you is through your highlight video.  In an ideal world, all junior football players reading this will have already put their highlight video together and have it available on a free site online.

Since that never seems to be the case, I want to stress once again the importance of putting this highlight tape together.  It is the best way for a school to evaluate your overall skills on the gridiron.  Doing it yourself or spending the money and getting it made professionally is a huge step that can be a major factor in the football recruiting process.  Take the time to learn hudl or spend the money to get it done.  There are few investments worth it as much as getting a video done.

If you have the video done, then you should be doing what you can to put it in front of the coaches that are recruiting you.  It may be worth calling or emailing with the coaches that are recruiting and see if they would prefer the video online or a hard copy of it.  The reason to ask is because cold sending out the tape is going to be a huge waste of time and resources.  Time and money are saved by sending it online but chances are that the overall quality may be hurt a little bit.

Either way will work fine because your main goal is to get them to watch your footage.  If you sent the highlight tape, follow up one to two weeks after the tape arrived and see if they watched it.  Please realize that patience is a huge must here and something to have during the football recruiting process.  If you sent the coach a link to your video on youtube or a similar service, email them a few days after it was sent and see what they thought.  This is the most inexpensive way to do it and something that I strongly encourage.

The thing you want to get out of the coaches regarding your highlight video is feedback.  If they were wowed by the tape and wanted to offer you a scholarship, chances are that it would have been done without you asking and following up.  So in your follow up, ask questions about things that you can improve on.  And when you get responses, take these to heart as these are college coaches who are paid to coach a sport that they love.

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I’m a junior with no football recruiting interest. What do I do?

Like a few of the other series of articles that I have started, I plan to break down what I would recommend to high school athletes in different situations. This will cover football and basketball as well as the year the athlete is and the recruiting interest they have been receiving. This should help those athletes and parents that are confused about the recruiting process and what they are doing.

Now that Signing Day is in the past, if you are a sought after junior by colleges, you should be receiving some sort of attention from schools at the next level. There are always athletes who say that the coaches are so busy with Signing Day that they can’t focus on the next class. That however is an excuse. Coaches are always looking ahead and many are offering scholarships to the elite players in the the junior class.

According to NCAA rules, until the first day of school your junior year, you cannot receive any football recruiting information that is not just a plain questionnaire or a camp invite. These coaches also cannot talk to you. That is part of the reason there is a perception that coaches don’t focus on the juniors. But once September 1st hits, coaches will flood the top junior prospects with mail.

If you have not received anything or much on the recruiting front, it is still a very good time to start contacting college coaches. You may be forced to sell yourself to these coaches but if your goals is to play college football at a high level, then you have no choice.

As talked about in the five steps to a scholarship, even before you start contacting college coaches the first thing you should do is build a recruiting profile. This word document basically highlights what you have accomplished over your high school career. If you haven’t really accomplished anything, don’t expect to garner much interest because of that.

The next step for you is to talk to your high school coach and anyone not related to you. What you want to talk to them about is what level that they feel you can realistically play at in college. It would be great if your coach knows how good you are but not all do. Try to find someone who is old enough to know.

I recently received an email telling me that there was a 6-foot-1, 195 pound tight end who was a surefire Division I prospect. Even though that is the size of many wide receivers, I heard many times that he was a Division I football player. When I questioned the person’s ability, he claimed he knew exactly what it took to play Division I football. Let me tell you that sometimes I don’t have a clue why one athlete is Division I vs. another who isn’t.

Once you find out what level they feel you can play (And you have to be comfortable with this), start searching the Internet. I know everyone wants to play for USC or LSU, but chances are strong that you will be wasting your time contacting them. What you need to do is go through the list and compare them to what you are looking for in a school. Think about location, your future major, the level of athletics, and anything else that could factor in on where you go.

After you have a long list of schools, now it is time to use their website again and contact their coaching staff. It will be similar for those who send out resumes for a job. You need to introduce yourself to the coaching staff, tell them why you are contacting them, mention why you like their school, and include your athletic profile.

The reason the lists needs to be long is because you want to keep your options open. If you begin by focusing just on five dream schools, it is going to be an uphill climb to keep all five of them interested. Never say never but the more options you have, the better chances you have at getting a scholarship down the road.

Not everyone of these schools is going to start recruiting you either. I would expect many to send you a camp invite. What you are looking for is more information about the school and for them to start showing you real interest. If you really feel you can play at that level, then it may be smart to go to camps. But as mentioned in that article, camps are big for college coaches to make money. Some are for recruiting but the majority just end up paying the college coaches.

Another important step you can take is look for a Nike Camp, Rivals or a Under Armour camp.  As I have mentioned before, be wary of those camps that charge money for you to test out. Like the college camps, these are making money for the person running it. If you perform well at the camp, expect your numbers and ability to get mentioned to college coaches. This is an easy and free way to help your stock in the eyes of coaches at the next level.

You could also contact coaches that you are interested in visiting their campus. They may not pull out the red carpet for you but you could at least introduce yourself and meet them face to face.

The biggest obstacle you face right now is getting your name out there. By contacting coaches and being able to provide them with stats, information from your coach, and video will help things. Also talk more to your college coaches about if he has any connection with coaches at the next level. You might as well use as many people are you can to help you with this difficult process.

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What college coaches visiting high schools during the athletic recruiting process really means

There have been some interesting comments on a few of the recent columns related to what it means when a college coach visits the high school of a potential athletic recruit. One reader felt that if a Division I college coach flew to your school, then you had it “in the bag.” Another poster had seen a Division I college coach come to the school to talk to two players and neither ended up with a scholarship offer.

So the question is what is the importance of having a college coach visit you during the athletic recruiting process? First off, when a college coach visits your school, regardless of level, it definitely is not a bad thing. But it doesn’t mean that there will be a certain scholarship offer on the table coming your way either.

There are two main times when the college coaches make visits to talk to the high school coaches and say “hello” to potential prospects (if of course you happen to run into them while they are there, which seems to happen rather frequently). It is normally during the spring of your junior year and the fall of your senior year. Both times of the year, in my opinion, mean something different.

It is normally the bigger schools that are making the visits during the spring of your junior year. It is in late April and May when they can visit as well as call you during that month as well. But let me stress that these coaches travel the country and try to hit as many schools as they can. While I don’t have a number off hand, I know that staffs at most schools visit hundreds of colleges at this time. And even if a school doesn’t have a Division I player in the current class doesn’t mean that they will visit.

Again, while it is nice to show your face to a prospect at a school in the eyes of a college coach, the biggest reason for this visit may be to foster the relationship between the college coach and the high school coach. The college coach may end up recruiting a player years down the road from this school but because he built a relationship early, that could play out well for him. So just because the assistant coach of State University makes an appearance at your high school doesn’t mean you are getting a scholarship offer. It could just be building a relationship with your coach.

A perfect example of this is in a small state in the Midwest that only produces a low number of Division I athletes. But apparently UCLA felt that they needed to make the trip to visit a variety of high school coaches throughout the state. This college coach was flying to the state to build relationships and maybe set up some connections for future years. To my knowledge, UCLA has only offered a scholarship to one player in this state in the last ten or so years. But they are coming to build relationships.

The visits in the fall are a different story. Because these coaches have targeted the majority of their recruits, they will want to show their face and make sure that the athlete knows that they are visiting the school. If there is no offer on the table, they may be getting more film from the coach and doing another eyeball test. These coaches also spend time chatting with one another. So if you are in the doghouse, as much as your high school coach likes you, he will likely be honest with the college coach.

The fall visits are when the coaches have a lot less time because they are in-season. That means they won’t be going to schools where they are building relationships with the coaches. The key is to make sure that the athlete knows they are visiting, catch up with the high school coach, and see what else can help them with his recruiting.

I have to stress this that even if a college coach flies out to see you in the fall, there are no guarantees. Until you get a written offer stating that they have a scholarship for you, then nothing is in the bag. Having college coaches visit your school is a good thing but nothing to get too excited about. Expect them to bring plenty of camp brochures as they “extend invites” to this camp to you. Like the mailed camp invites, don’t expect much unless they are actually recruiting you.

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Broadcasting your recruiting attention to make sure coaches know what is going on with your recruiting

I recently did an article with a coach about his son. The son is currently a junior on the team and has already started going through the recruiting process. He is a good athlete and was named All State in a smaller school. After finishing the article, the coach requested that I take the names of the schools off of the article that are recruiting him. According to the coach, he said he did not want to broadcast the schools recruiting him online.

Like always, I have no problem doing what a coach asks me to do. I understand he wants privacy regarding this issue. But in terms of looking at it through a recruiting perspective, I think it is a bad move that in the long run could end up hurting his recruiting.

When a player is receiving recruiting interest, it shows that the school got his name either from an All State list, All Conference list, a coach, a camp, or somewhere that shows this player stands out above others in his class. When talking to a player, a college coach will second guess themselves if they are the only school recruiting this athlete. While the school may eventually stay with him and offer a scholarship, they will wonder why other programs are at the very least contacting him.

So when a school does see a player getting recruited by some of the bigger Division I programs in the Midwest, they will likely add him to their recruiting list. The coach that sees the article may be from a Division I-AA, II, or even III school. The fact that the article shows he is receiving early recruiting interest from a major school shows that he likely is a solid prospect. Obviously the mail does not mean he is a sure fire player at the smallest college level but there usually is some skill behind the early interest.

Anyways, the coach reads the article and sees the big time interest. He decides to add him to their recruiting list and start sending him mail. If the player does what I always talk about and that is look at all of your options, another door has opened. This school may send him one letter and move on or they may eventually not recruit him at all. It really just depends on the level of football the school plays and how good the kid is.

If the same coach reads the article and it says nothing about recruiting, chances are smaller that he will add him to the list. It may happen that he does it anyways but without the bigger names on the list, chances are smaller.

I have always mentioned that your first scholarship offer can help you receive more attention because schools really realize than that an athlete can play at that level. I feel that letters show that this kid can play and other colleges will respond off of it. The top programs in the Midwest do help the smaller schools recruit. So if this player is legit, then there should be no reason why the recruiting portion of the article is not included. It may be broadcast to a wide audience, but college coaches are reading the content and that could end up hurting the recruiting in the long run.

Players and parents do this all the time where they decline to name what schools are offering scholarships and who is recruiting them. To me, it really does not make a whole lot of sense. Putting your options on the table in a newspaper article or a story with Rivals.com will allow other coaches to see that. These other coaches will wonder more about why a conference rival is recruiting this kid and look into it.

At the major Division I level, colleges like Texas and other major programs have no problem letting reporters know what players they are offering (Off the record of course). They are the top programs and are not worried if other schools are going to try recruiting this kid. They are the University of Texas and they pour a lot of money into athletics.

Smaller colleges, especially mid major Division I basketball schools, would prefer to have their scholarships they have offered private. Here is a recent example regarding this. A mid major program in a very small state starting doing a very good job on the basketball court and was able to make the NCAA tournament three straight seasons.

Once other coaches figured out they were doing so well, they would recruit the players who had already committed to this school. Instead of competing against conference foes for recruits, they had major programs going after their recruits. In the last few years, there currently have been two decommitments from this team to major programs that are much bigger than this smaller school.

Anyways, I brought this up because schools read about and research who other programs are recruiting. If the are after a player who is keeping their recruiting quiet, then don’t expect other programs to know what is going on unless they have seen you play or they have been recruiting you. There is no reason at all why you shouldn’t broadcast who is recruiting you. If anything, you should be open about it and try to get it in the hands of people who will publish it in front of college coaches.

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How independent football recruiting combines work and their process for finding “invited” athletes

I have talked at different times about my dislike for some recruiting services.  But with recruiting services, there are companies that do an excellent job and can help families in certain situations.  I will freely admit that if time for a family is limited, and they have the money, then it may be worth investing in hopes of getting some college interest.

But one thing that I am completely against is independent football combines that charge substantial amounts of money.  I seem to bad mouth them every chance I get and for good reason.  So why the dislike for these football combines?  Let me count three ways…….

If there are combines that charge over $25, be wary (there are some solid ones worth attending for that low of a sum).  If they charge over $50, they are a rip off.  I always talk about how college camps are expensive but the good thing about these camps is that there are always numerous college coaches at all levels working the camp.  You may not be good enough for State University but Division II State University may end up loving you as a player and offering a full scholarship.  For college coaches, there is something to fall back onto if the host school does not feel you are good enough.

For independent run combines, there is no host school and no fall back schools either.  The people that run the camp are basically taking a good chunk of change out of your pocket (or that of your parent) and running you through some rather mundane tests.  There may also be some 1-on-1 and things like that but what exactly do you think will be the outcome of this?  There are no college coaches in attendance.  The end result is that the person that runs the combine will likely email (to save money on postage) the results to college coaches.  You want to guess how many college coaches take these results seriously?

One camp that I received a question about recently is a very big named event.  Let me say that they do have some excellent coaches that will help you learn as a player.  But the price tag is $549 and the invite list is not all that prestigious.  I have heard players that are not all that good tell me they received an invite.  The ones with the money go and do it, but again, what will that end up leading to?  Outside of some good coaching, $549 is a lot of money.

How they find their “invited” athletes
This one kills me.  I must stress that this realistically is what I was told from a combine director in a bigger state.  He said he hired students to go through all of the high school roster pages on Max Preps and pull the names of every single athlete who is listed and not a senior.  So when you receive that elite invite from this camp, think about that for a second.  They must have done a lot of evaluation, scouting, and and review to be able to invite you.  No, they actually just want to find someone with a credit card or check who is willing to pay them.

The combine director will then send their “invited” athlete a post card (because it is cheaper) saying that they have identified you as a top prospect and they want you at their combine.  If they thought so much of you, then why are they wanting $100 for you to attend?  Some also hold “All Star” combine afterwards, but again, what is this going to lead to?

Misleading information
This one makes me sick.  There is one combine that lists all of the colleges that receive information from the combine and some talk about the ones that have attended in the past.  With NCAA rule changes over the last few years, college coaches can not be in attendance at these combines.  And for the ones that do receive the information at the end, how many Division I schools really sort through it and find a star studded recruit?  Chances are extremely slim.  As with a lot of recruiting information, it ends up in the deleted folder in Microsoft Outlook.

Maybe I am being a little too critical of the camps but the main purpose is for the directors to make a large amount of money.  I may consider it unethical simply because they know they are “inviting” anyone with a pulse and a pay check, but they obviously don’t.  So when you get an invite to a combine that costs money, you might as well throw it away right away.  You are wasting the time you are taking to consider it.

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Will unofficial visits help me in the athletic recruiting process?

One question that I surprisingly get asked often about the athletic recruiting process is related to unofficial visits.  Basically many athletes/families want to know if making these unofficial visits will help them throughout the recruiting process in the eyes of college coaches.  That really is not an easy question to answer.

First, athletes making these unofficial visits to college campuses for game day trips, Junior Days, spring practices, and things along those lines do show to the college coach that you are interested in their school.  You are taking time out of your weekend and making the journey to their campus.  But will that really help you overall?

Look at the visits through the perspective of a college coach first.  They are going to be mass inviting a lot of the top prospects that they have on their list.  For the junior class, lets say that a major college program is looking at somewhere between 75 to 125 prospects right now for this current class (they have the database whittled down to those numbers with their top prospects).  These coaches are going to invite all of these athletes to as many visits as they can to the school.  If there are ten visit days and the recruits decides to go to ten, great.  Then he will learn more about the school, the coaches, the program, and just get a better overall feel for the campus.

Through the eyes of the coaches, you have shown that you enjoy their school and apparently want to go there (chances are slim you are making ten visits to other schools as well).  The problem occurs though is that just because you made all those visits, does that mean your highlight tape is going to look better in their eyes?  If you are good enough for a scholarship, making one visit in a lot of cases will be just enough.  What ten visits ends up being is a lot of wasted time for a school that may offer at most a chance to walk-on at their program.

Within the last year, I did a question and answer with a parent who basically went through the story above (with a few less visits to the same school).  This family grew up loving one school and hoped that their son would be good enough to go there.  To show their interest in the school, they made visit after visit (which was around three hours round trip from their home to the college program).  Here is what the mom said when talking about this specific subject:

If you could do it all over again, would there be anything you would change?
“Probably not go to SO many unofficial visits to all the same schools without even knowing if that is where he would end up. One would be plenty until you know there is an offer on the table or that he wants to go there no matter what happens.”

What I liked best about what she said is the “without evening knowing if that is where he would end up.”  Just because a school is sending you invites to host you for a visit doesn’t mean they are promising anything.  I would expect that they would evaluate you during the recruiting process but there is no promise of a scholarship or even a walk-on offer.  You will have to earn that on the field or the court.

So in the end, making more than one unofficial visit to a certain school is probably not going to help you in the eyes of the college coaches.  Making that first trip is a good thing to meet the coaches, see the campus, and become more familiar with the college.  But just because you make three visits doesn’t mean the scholarship paperwork will be in the mail.

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Handling heavy athletic recruiting attention

If you are a sought after athlete in any sport, it may be tough to juggle the attention that you are receiving. It is not an easy process to be able to handle that, school, athletics, and just being a kid in high school. But in order to not burn yourself out trying to please everyone, there are some things that you can do in order to avoid that.

Most of this article will focus on being a sought after athlete with multiple scholarship offers and attention from a number of schools. And while this is a position that most athletes dream of being in, only a select few actually have the luxury of that many options at the college level.

The reason I wrote this article is because I recently spoke with a sophomore basketball player who already holds some major scholarship offers. I spoke with him about his season and how he has been playing. But when the subject of recruiting was brought up, he told me to call his coach. After emailing back and fourth with his mom, I was told that he is only doing it during the season. The reason that he is not talking recruiting is because it allows him to focus on the season and he does not have to worry about telling reporters which schools are recruiting him.

This same athlete is also handling college coaches in a similar fashion. Because he is so busy with school and athletics, he speaks with the coaches one time per month. With so many schools interested, that is a fair request because it takes so much time to focus on speaking with them. At the same time, he is also limiting his interviews with Rivals, 247Sports, and Scout because it gives him more time to focusing on relaxing. Deferring to your high school coach is a smart move in my opinion.

Another technique that was used a while back was a football player a few years ago. He ended up with somewhere around thirty scholarship offers so different sites from the above mentioned recruiting networks would want to call him about it. It could be Michigan, UCLA, Pittsburgh, or any number of places but they all wanted to talk to him about recruiting.

Because this athlete was so bombarded by calls going into his senior year, he decided to tell reporters that he was only doing interviews on a certain day per week. If my memory serves me correctly, he would only speak to reporters on Sunday nights. This allowed him to focus on high school athletics, school, and talking to the other college coaches.

What other prospects will do is if they get a lot of scholarship offers, they will keep whittling the number of schools they are seriously considering down. Even if Alabama offers, if a prospect is not seriously considering them, why waste your time and their time talking to them?

Some people may think that an athlete who picks days to talk or will not talk about recruiting is full or himself. But in the majority of cases, I feel strongly that they are trying to be effective with their time. They cannot spend hours on end talking to recruiting experts, college coaches, and then be able to focus on their season and get their school work done on top of it.

If you are a recruit with a lot of offers, those are just a few things that you can do to limit the amount of time you are spending on things like this. There are many other things that you can do but those are a few that can help you get some time to relax once in a while.

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