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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