What happens at a Junior Day during the football recruiting process from the eyes of those in attendance?

These are important events during the football recruiting process that I would recommend if you have the time and money to travel there. And while I can only pass along what I know happens during a Junior Day, this time I enlisted the help of a number of athletes who have made these visits. Each of these quotes are from a number of players who all made a visit to the same Junior Day. See for yourself what they say about the event and what their overall thoughts are:
“They started off with a tour. They showed the campus and stuff. Then we talked about football with the coaches. We ate in one of their eating places on campus. I had to leave early to go a spring game but I talked to the head coach and tight end coach.”

“First, we had a look at their facilities and the new weight room they are building. Then they had this room that showed you what type of form you had with your running. Then we took a tour of the campus and they showed us all of the different buildings for academics. After that, we went back to (their stadium) and talked to the strength and conditioning coach as well as a couple of other coaches. Then we ate at their restaurant place. After that, we talked to the head coach and then split into different position groups. I went with the running backs and talked to the running back coach. He just said how he coached and what they have done in past years to have success. After that we watched their hit film tape from last year.”

“We did the tour right away and then we went into a big room where the strength coach talked. The academic guy talked about him and we went and ate lunch when that was done. (Their head coach) talked and then we broke into position meetings. I went with the linebackers. They got a new linebackers coach and he was new so he could relate to what we were going through. He seemed pretty cool. We had a final talk with (their head coach) and then watched the highlight video. It started at 10:30 and was done at 2:30.”

“We got a chance to watch the practice at the beginning. We just watched them go through their drills. They gave us a campus tour and we moved with the coaches to our individual positions. Then we talked to each of the coaches. I liked that a lot. They fed us lunch at one of the dining halls. I thought it was good to get a taste of college and what it will be like there.”

“At first, we got into groups and they showed us their facilities. We took a tour around the campus. After that, we had lunch and talked to the coaches a little bit. Then we split into groups by position and I talked to the position coach.”

“We toured the campus. Then they showed us the academic center. We talked football with them. After lunch, they talked to us about what they expect for recruits and what we need to know to play there.”

“First we got to tour the campus a little bit and see everything. Then we got to eat at cafeteria, which is awesome. Then we went into individual groups so I went with the offensive linemen. We talked and then went into individual sections.”

“We just checked in and watched their practice for 45 minutes. They were split into groups by position so we could watch quarterbacks or linebackers. After 45 minutes, everyone headed into a little room where they broke off into different groups and toured the campus. Then everyone heard the strength and conditioning coach. It sounds like they are really doing some technologically advanced stuff. Then we all went and ate in the cafeteria. We listened to (their head coach) and an admission guy about how to get into school there. Then the position coaches talked to us. We watched a highlight tape and (their head coach) recapped it all.”

“When we went there, we went to the practice and got to go on the field. Then they took us on a campus tour and saw all the facilities. Then we went and ate lunch, met with (their head coach), our position coaches, and then left.”

“We started with the tour first with a student ambassador. Then we ate and met with our position coaches. We talked to them and I got to talk to the recruiter in my area a little bit.”

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I am a parent who feels helpless in all aspects of the athletic recruiting process. What should I do?

For most parents reading this, the reason that you were able to find this site is that you want to be able to be proactive throughout the athletic recruiting process for your son or daughter.  Maybe this is your first time and for others you may have done it before but there is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most confusing times in trying to help your child.

Parents may even feel helpless because they are not exactly sure what they should be doing and if they should be doing stuff to help.  When I went through the Division III recruiting process a while back, my mom had no idea what was going on.  She took me to one visit and just didn’t have a clue regarding letters, calls, or things along that line.  I thought now is as good of a time as any to help parents figure things out in the athletic recruiting process.

Here are a few different things that I feel will be a major help to parents that have children with aspirations to continue their sporting career in college.  Like the definitions list that I have been updating, this may be a feature that continues to grow over time because I want readers who are parents to be as informed as possible throughout the athletic recruiting process.

Communication with the athlete is key
College coaches will contact athletes through their high school coach, call their cell phone, and even send letters to the school.  While many coaches know that the parents will be an important part of the recruiting process, their first step is to draw the interest of the kid to their school.  This means that communication about the recruiting process is a must between you and your child.  While I know that most kids don’t seem to open up to their parents during the teenage years unless they need something, parents need to know what goals and dreams their son or daughter has about playing college sports.  Being able to talk to them about the letters that they receive, what level they hope to play at, and things along that line will be great not only for the recruiting process but also learning more about your child.

Bank roll the recruiting process
Parents will do just about anything to make their kid’s happy.  You can do that by bank rolling the recruiting process.  I am not saying to go on extravagant college visits and going to every camp you are invited to.  I am saying that you will likely have to pay for a highlight video to be made, take care of the for gas to make unofficial visits, and handle the costs involved for camps.  If you take care these things yourself, it is going to be a major money saver in the long run rather than hire it out.

Do the behind the scenes leg work
I am not talking about you picking out schools that you would have loved to go to in the recruiting process.  I am saying that parents can do the leg work behind camps, highlight videos, and potential videos.  For the highlight videos, you can speak to the high school coach, other recruits, search the Internet, and talk to people you know about possibly getting a quality video made.  While a 17-year old can do it, chances are you will be better at following through during the process.  And since the athlete probably cannot write the check themselves, this has to be something where you can do the work and handle it.  While they may need to ask the high school coach about getting video, you should work on setting things up while putting it in place.

Don’t try to live through them
You obviously hear about the parents who weren’t successful in sports when they were younger so they try to hone their children to be major recruits.  Don’t do it.  It is going to create a major strain on the bond between you and your son or daughter so just don’t even try.  If they don’t want to play in college, let them decide.  The athlete should also be the one picking the schools that they are interested in.  This is about them and where they will be happy for four to five years.  Keep that in mind and don’t try to live through them.

Inform yourself
I assume the reason that you are visiting this site is to inform yourself.  As I have mentioned before on this site, feel free to post comments with your questions.  There is nothing bad about asking as many questions as possible.  That can include asking the high school coach question, the guidance counselor questions, and the college coaches questions.  Many parents go into the football recruiting process or the basketball recruiting process with little previous information.  This is a process that you can do yourself if you decide to study up and inform yourself as much as possible about how the recruiting process works.

Be realistic 
As a parent, this may be almost impossible.  It is very difficult to be able to have realistic opinions about your children and their ability in athletics.  You are 100% bias having raised this child that it is going to be hard.  So try to get as much outside opinion as possible.  If your kid wants to play Division I and he is a Division III type player, you are going to waste a lot of time and money if you are not realistic about the situation.  You need to have a good feel what level your kid can play at.  Finding that honest opinion would be up to you and something that needs to be done before really diving into the recruiting process.

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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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Athletic Recruiting Misconception: I just sent out my highlight tape and expect to hear from all of those coaches soon

Just to let readers know, I will be putting together a series of articles based on common misconceptions with the athletic recruiting process.  This includes why the misconception is a problem and what should be done instead.  In the majority of cases, these misconceptions do not work so it is important to avoid if you want to have success in the athletic recruiting process.

Our first look at an athletic recruiting misconception is something I head often from athletes.  When asking them about the schools that are recruiting them, they usually backtrack and talk about how they just sent tapes out to a number of schools.  The problem is that their highlight video is going to get thrown away without prior contact to the coaches at that school.

I will repeat this as I do many times throughout the site.  There is no doubt in my mind that cold sending your highlight video is a great way to NOT have it be watched by the coaches.  Think about how many recruits who would love to get a scholarship from State University.  Then imagine that 50% are taking the steps needed to make a highlight tape and will be sending it to the coaches.  That ends up being tens of thousands of athletes who randomly send video to schools.  Do you really think that is the way to go about getting your video watched?

Just a quick story to talk about before mentioning what you should do.  A few years back, there was a college basketball prospect from a school in the Midwest.  This athlete was too small to get a scholarship but that didn’t stop him from sending tape all over the country.  I spoke with a college college on the east coast who told me that this athlete had send them his tape.  If they received, how many colleges do you think total ended up with his highlight video?  Think about the time and money that went into his cold sending of these videos.  In the end, I believe he ended up at the Division I level like I had originally assumed.

Why is this misconception a problem?
College coaches have too much on their plate to be watching videos that have been cold sent by recruits that they likely have never heard of before.  A graduate assistant or a student manager may end up watching your tape if the school has a detailed process of what is done when highlight videos are sent in.  But in order to get the tape in front of an assistant coach, cold sending your highlight video is definitely not the way to go.

What should be done?
First off, save your time and money by not randomly sending out tape.  Chances of this ending up good are very, very, very small.  What you should do is before even sending the tape is to market yourself to the colleges that you are interested.  You will want to put together a recruiting profile, find schools that match you, and then market yourself to the schools you are interested in.  I always seem to have to say this but make sure you are not sending your profile just to the Division I schools.  Broaden your search and look into your future major.

After that, track the contact with the coaches.  If they are interested and have shown interest back (which they should in 75% of the emails), ask them if they are interested in evaluating your highlight video.  You can send them a hard copy or make it easier for them by putting the highlights online.  I have heard from a Division I coach that it is much easier to click a link for video of an athlete and then can watch it on their computer with ease.

Getting evaluated and your highlight video watched is not an easy process.  But don’t waste the time in cold sending your video in hopes of a scholarship offer and a massive amount of recruiting attention to suddenly come your way.  It just doesn’t work that way.

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Why is my child not being recruited by college coaches?

One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive from parents is why is their child not being recruited by college coaches.  Their son or daughter may have been lighting up the stats sheet on the sophomore team so they are obviously talented.  And now they are wondering why a flood of Division I schools is not knocking down the door wanting to extend a full scholarship to them.

Unfortunately unless you have elite level athleticism, that is not the case in how the athletic recruiting process works for any sport.  The first thing that I always must talk about when this question gets asked is related to the playing ability of your child.  Are they really good enough?  Seriously?

A big reason why college coaches are not recruiting athletes is because they don’t have enough talent to play at their level.  Just because you rushed for 1,500 yards against small school competition doesn’t mean you have the speed, vision, and strength that Division I college coaches are looking for.

So outside of talent, why is my son or daughter not being recruited?  If they are good enough, the key here is marketing.  You need to do what you can to help push the name of your child out to college coaches.

What happens if that doesn’t work?  Then I would strongly recommend that you really start to focus on helping your child and putting in more time.  Take a weekend and spend hours with your potential college athlete of a child and research these schools.  You can find information at the library about them but can do most of the work by researching them online.

Once you have found twenty to thirty schools at all different levels (let me stress the all different levels so take off your Division I eyes only), then email coaches at each with the recruiting profile.  Make sure to say something unique about their school.  While doing this, track which schools you contacted and make notes about why.

Unless you get really lucky, you will not be receiving 100% feedback from the coaches.  Track which coaches contacted you back and which ones didn’t.  For the ones that didn’t, follow up one more time after a few weeks.  If they don’t get back to you, pick another coach on staff.  You may eventually get fed up but any decent coaching staff will at least say thanks.  But then again, you never know what type of spam blockers that these coaches have so don’t get frustrated.  Persistence is key here.

If you take these steps, it should help.  There is no perfect path to the recruiting process but if your son or daughter has no attention and they are productive at the varsity level over a season, then this should help.  Like I said, all levels need to be looked at.  This includes at least a few thoughts about Division I, II, III, NAIA, as well as Junior College.  Prep school may even be something to think about as well.

There is no doubt that from the eyes of a parent, the lack of recruiting interest that their child is getting is difficult for you and them to go through.  But you have to take control of the process yourself and help put them in the best situation they can to be evaluated.  They may not be good enough in the end but how do you know unless you take the reigns and run with it.

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College Coaches don’t care about you playing at the highest level if you commit to their school

If you have a lot of interest from a variety of college coaches, there is no doubt that one of the lines you may end up hearing is about how their coaching staff really cares for their players and always does what is in their best interest.  There is no doubt that when the coaches say this, there is some truth behind it.

But if you think for a second that they would be okay with you picking a larger school that could be a better fit for you academically, you are crazy.  These coaches want to find the best athletes possible and will do all kinds of things to force you into a commitment (see deadline) and stick to it as well.

The reason why I came up with this article idea was what I saw shortly before Signing Day.  A major Division I-AA/FCS who always seems to be competing for national titles received a commitment from a talented running back. This athlete had a great deal of potential so they wanted to do everything they could to keep a larger school from swooping in at the last minute with an offer.  For the record, this athlete was a Junior College player.

The coaches from this college requested to his high school and Junior College coaches to not let word leak out.  They wanted to keep this on the down low as much as possible.  Once Signing Day rolled around and he was basically coming to their school, the coaches at the college no longer needed to keep it under wraps.

Like I said before, if State University came in with a full scholarship and a better fit for him academically and athletically, this Division I-AA school wouldn’t care.  They may talk a big game but when it comes down to it and their backs are against the wall, they will do everything they can to land the top talent.  This allows them to win games which helps them keep their job and make money coaching football in the process.

Division I-AA/smaller Division I-A schools/mid major Division I basketball programs also try to do everything they can to keep other coaches from knowing who they are recruiting and who they are offering.  There is a recent example from a mid major basketball program who put together a fantastic string of performances year after year over the last decade.  They were landing diamonds in the rough and winning a lot of games.

Once the major college basketball programs started figuring that out, the coaches from these schools started to pay much more attention to their recruits.  One school was able to snatch one of their verbally committed athletes because they were a bigger program in a better conference.  These coaches started getting paranoid and were doing everything they could to keep their offers and commitments as quiet as possible.  It didn’t matter if the other schools offered a better place for you, the mid-major program wanted your skills and they will do all they can to keep you in the fold.

What sucks about this article is it is all true.  You are likely to hear some fantastic lines from college coaches throughout the recruiting process.  But in the end, know that you and your family are the only ones that really want is best for you.  And even if you have to anger a coach in the process, do it.  You will likely end up happier and not have to wonder if you made the right decision.

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More than one athlete on a team can play at the college level and why the better the team, the better for recruiting overall

A few weeks back I got an email from an athlete talking about a teammate. His teammate has much better college potential because of his size along the offensive line and college coaches have taken notice of that. What this teammate did, in my mind, was very questionable.

He basically just emailed me destroying the teammate and his abilities. He hyped himself up in the process but the overlying theme that I got out of the emails was his lack of respect for his teammate. And for the record, his teammate is getting early Division I attention at this point. I don’t know if there is jealousy involved or what but it didn’t sit well with me.

The last thing an athlete should do is basically throw a teammate under the bus. I don’t care how much you hate him or don’t respect his skills/work ethic in your sport. It just should not happen and it makes me question in a huge way the overall attitude of this athlete.

What this player needs to realize is that just because he has a teammate who is going to be playing in college and is a football recruit, it won’t be stopping him from following the same path if he has the skills. If anything, having a recruited teammate may actually be a benefit to both parties involved.

When the evaluation period starts and say State University comes in to talk about Recruit A, their high school coach may talk about Recruit B and his abilities as well. The coach will likely call both of them down to “bump” into the college coach and just say hello. This gives him a chance to potentially pass the eyeball test.

Chances are that if you have two or more recruits on your team, that you are going to win more games than a school that has zero recruits (this does depend but it normally the case). The more games you win, the better chance you have to play in front of college coaches deep in the playoffs. And the more success you have, the better your chances for potentially being named All Conference and All State. These honors are not needed to get a Division I offer but they certainly help matters.

Two recruits can also help reduce travel expenses. I know that there are some families that have emailed me about saving money during the recruiting process. One great way is to have a teammate or someone in your area who you befriend. When there are Junior Days or unofficial visit, you can bum a ride from them instead of having to fit the travel bill all yourself.

If you don’t know any of the other players at the visit, having a teammate there will certainly make things more comfortable. That is at least until you meet some other people there. So really, it is important to realize that having another teammate being recruited can be a good thing. If a school has enough talent, scholarships will be extended often.

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