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. /p>
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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When should I sign up for summer football recruiting camps?


The summer may seem like something in the far off distance but for junior and sophomore athletes out there ready this, the rest of the winter and the spring will fly by. Before you know it, the summer season will be upon you. So with that in mind, it may be important to at least have a strategy for your summer football camp schedule.

The single most important role when signing up for a football camp is by NOT picking a camp based on one camp invite that you received from the school. Let me stress this again (and I should just repeat this about twenty more times). If you are a junior and the only “recruiting” that a college does is send you a camp invite, do not go. They are not interested in you as a player. They are interested in you to make money during the summer months. These coaches can really improve their income by bringing in as many athletes as they can. So with money on the line, they are going to mass invite athletes from all over their area.

All schools send out these camps invites to pad their camp numbers as well as their wallets. These invites are being sent out while you read this and football recruits across the country may really think that this program is interested in them. Again, if you have received little to nothing else from the school outside of a camp invite, save your money (or the cash of your parents) because this is a waste of time. There is one school in the Midwest known for sending out camp invites to anyone. My guess is that if they know you started on the football team, you are good enough for a camp invite. Keep that in mind before getting excited and quickly signing up.

If you are a sophomore, then picking camps are much different. Until the first day of your junior year of school, all college coaches can send you is questionnaires and camp invites. The problem is because it is so early, it is really tough to tell if the school sending the camp invite is really interested. That is why I would not take these camp invites all that serious, even this early in the football recruiting process.

As a sophomore, you should dictate what schools you decide to attend camps at. Yes, it would be great to get a scholarship while at the camp but the odds are very slim so don’t count on it. Go in thinking that the reason you are going to the camps are to get better as a player and hopefully show the coaches enough that they will evaluate you later on in the recruiting process.

For picking camps as a sophomore, I honestly wouldn’t do all that many. Just pick somewhere between two and four that you feel can help you. You may decide that you want to go to two in-state schools and another dream program that you have followed for years. Again, getting yourself exposed to different coaches should help you become a better football player if you listen and work hard.

Signing up for a summer football camp as a junior is completely different. Because college coaches can send you all the mail that they want and eventually call you in May, I would strongly advise to not sign up until May. I would say in 98% of the situations that unless a school calls you in the month of May, then they are not going to offer you a scholarship while at the camp (there are exceptions but I am stressing that the mass majority do not come out of nowhere for a scholarship offer. The athlete is at least someone they know to watch coming in). So the question is why pay a school hundreds of dollars when the reason you are going is to be recruited and they are not going to take you all that serious as a potential player at their level?

As a junior, your goal for camps is to get evaluated and either get a scholarship or show enough ability that they will be looking at you down the road. With this in my, there is no reason why you should have to attend more than one day at the camp. I have talked about this before but when speaking with the coaches that call in May, ask them about how you can attend one day at camp and what the process is to sign up for that.

The reason to only attend one day of the camp is simple. First, it saves you a great deal of money. That is going to be a huge benefit in the long term scheme of things. The second is that as a college coach, they have the ability to evaluate an athlete very quickly. If they know you can’t play, why stay there hoping to impress them? You are not suddenly going to turn into Tim Tebow from the second to third night.

Anyways, going back to the original question, signing up for camps does differ. As a sophomore, pick a few camps that you are interested and go to those. As a junior, find out what schools are really interested in you (and that means by calling you in May, which is more than a college coach visiting your high school) and then talk to them about attending one day at their camp. Then it will save you money and give you more flexibility to get to different camps around your area.

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Steps to avoid being stressed out by the athletic recruiting process


It always seems that when Signing Day nears, the stress levels for entire families continue to rise.  Making that final decision is never going to be easy regardless of the situation.  But there are some ways that we will talk about that can help with reducing your overall stress level and making things easier for your entire family.

Again, these steps are not going to be a magical list that makes the athletic recruiting process a breeze.  What these will do is help you get things in line and ready so that when coaches come calling and visiting, you won’t be scrambling and struggling to get your information in line.

The first step, by far, is start everything early.  The later that you wait, the tougher and more stressful it is going to be on you.   The turnaround is needed because coaches are asking for the recruiting tape and now the family is stressed because they need to get it done.

Like I have said before in other articles, if you are seriously considering playing college athletics (especially football), then you need to get a highlight video produced shortly after your junior season.  And if you are smart enough to work ahead, you should use time during the football season to contact highlight video companies and find one that you trust and feel good about.  The hope will be that this company comes through and allows you to get things done early.

The same is said about getting information out to coaches.  You would be amazed how many athletes continue to think they are better off waiting until the season comes around and then the real recruiting will start.  It is vital that you market yourself to college coaches and the earlier you have varsity experience, the better it is to do that.

After you have everything done early, the next thing you need to do is keep track of all the recruiting attention.  You can use an excel file, a manila envelope, or anything that works for your family (and especially your son/daughter who will hopefully be fielding the calls).  You want to keep information about letters, calls, what was discussed, visits, and anything else that may be important.  The more information, the better down the road when making a final decision needs to be made.

Time may be tight but it is very important that you continue to reevaluate where you sit with the recruiting process.  This may get a little old but you need to have a good feel of where you sit with colleges.  You may have gotten two letters from your dream school but realistically, you need to be realistic and continually reevaluate where you sit with the programs that are after you.  You can use your recruiting attention log and figure out which schools are contacting you the most.

This evaluation process of the schools should be done as a family because it gives a great opportunity for parents to figure out where your children want in a future college.  And parents, realize that the answers you get from your child are likely going to change by the month, week, and potentially day.

You also should make adjustments based on this overall evaluation.  For example, say that you contacted all of the Division I-A coaches in your state and the surrounding state.  I wouldn’t recommend this but it was something you did so that you could play at the highest level possible.  In that contact, you included a link your website and highlight video.  A number of coaches contacted you back at the time but few have been in contact since.

When this happens, you need to start being realistic and setting your sights a little lower.  It may be a tough pill to swallow, even if State University is your dream school, but broaden your search to programs that fit you academically that may be at the Division I-AA/FCS, Division II, and Division III levels.  In the end, you want to have a lot of options on the plate to be able to choose from.  You can eliminate schools late in the process but the more options you have, the better for you in the long run.

Time may be tight but it is very important that you continue to reevaluate where you sit with the recruiting process.  This may get a little old but you need to have a good feel of where you sit with colleges.  You may have gotten two letters from your dream school but realistically, you need to be realistic and continually reevaluate where you sit with the programs that are after you.  You can use your recruiting attention log and figure out which schools are contacting you the most.

This evaluation process of the schools should be done as a family because it gives a great opportunity for parents to figure out where your children want in a future college.  And parents, realize that the answers you get from your child are likely going to change by the month, week, and potentially day.

You also should make adjustments based on this overall evaluation.  For example, say that you contacted all of the Division I-A coaches in your state and the surrounding state.  I wouldn’t recommend this but it was something you did so that you could play at the highest level possible.  In that contact, you included a link your website and highlight video.  A number of coaches contacted you back at the time but few have been in contact since.

When this happens, you need to start being realistic and setting your sights a little lower.  It may be a tough pill to swallow, even if State University is your dream school, but broaden your search to programs that fit you academically that may be at the Division I-AA/FCS, Division II, and Division III levels.  In the end, you want to have a lot of options on the plate to be able to choose from.  You can eliminate schools late in the process but the more options you have, the better for you in the long run.

Even if you decided to waste spend the money on a recruiting service or someone that you are paying to help you with recruiting, realize that the person(s) who will care most about the situation is you and your family.  This person/company you are paying is doing it in order to put a roof over their head.  It is the same when it comes to investing your money.  Realize that it is your money (or your recruiting future) and the person who will dedicate the most time/energy is you.

If that company doesn’t get you a scholarship, they are not going to be fitting the bill for a college tuition.  Regardless of what you decide, realize that you always need to keep learning in recruiting.  It just kills me when parents will complain about how great their son is and wonder where their scholarships are but won’t want to learn about recruiting because their “guy” is handling it for them.  That is a huge mistake that you must avoid at all costs.

One great thing about learning the process together as a family from a site like this (and a few others if you look hard enough) is that it will be a bonding experience.  Most teenagers don’t like to talk but if they want a college scholarship, then it will open up some lines of communication that should help with more than just recruiting.  This may be cheesy but it definitely can be a bonding experience that the athlete should be thankful for (and hopefully will realize that as they get older).

The last thing is to be realistic.  The more you try fooling yourself about the attention that you are getting and who is really recruiting you, the harder it is going to be to face facts and realize that you may just be a Division III athlete.  And for the record, there is nothing wrong with that at all.

I know of athletes, which I will talk about more in a future article, who didn’t start for the football team as a junior that plays in one of the smaller states of the country.  His team was good but not great.  In this state, if you are talented enough, regardless of who is in front of you, chances are that they may change your position and try to get you on the field.

Because this athlete has marketed himself (to the wrong schools I might add) and paid big money to go to all these combines, he is getting letters from some of the top programs across the country.  The issue is that when Signing Day nears for him, there is no possible way that these schools will still be in the picture.  The family continues to fool themselves and think that this is serious attention in the recruiting process.

If you had dreams of playing at the highest level, it really is tough to be realistic.  I have seen many athletes not get offers from big time schools so instead of getting your education paid for, they decided to give up their sport of choice.  While there is nothing wrong with that, having your education paid for is a luxury that most families cannot pass up.  So be realistic and know that even if the big boys are sending you letters, that doesn’t mean a damn thing until you get a scholarship offer.

The reason that this can be disappointing is because you may be stressing over if Florida offered a kid at your position.  Well, if the Gators are not really recruiting you, then chances are that offers doesn’t mean anything.  Following these steps will help alleviate a lot of the stresses that I see during the athletic recruiting process.

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More changes proposed to the NCAA DI Transfer Rules!


More changes to the Division I transfer rules were proposed just last week by the NCAA Division I Council at their meeting in Indianapolis. These additional changes are not scheduled for a vote until April so likely won’t take effect until Fall 2019.

I will outline these key changes below, but for Division I athletes who are on an athletic scholarship, nothing will be changing about the rules that determine whether a student-athlete can be immediately eligible if they transfer to another Division I program.

The first proposed rule change will impact new incoming student-athletes to a Division I program (freshmen or transfers) who are attending summer school classes on an athletic scholarship (thereby triggering their status as a “student-athlete” at that university). Those athletes will be allowed to transfer and be immediately eligible IF their team has a head coaching change before Fall classes begin.

The second proposed rule change will allow more opportunities for walk-on athletes who have not received an athletic scholarship to transfer and be immediately eligible at another Division I university. There are current transfer exceptions that already allow that to happen, but those exceptions have conditions that restrict the number of athletes who can benefit from the exception. This proposed change will remove some of those restricting conditions.

The third proposed change should slow down the number of athletes in football and in men’s and women’s basketball who are transferring to Division I programs as graduate students. There has been a sense among many in NCAA leadership positions that some of these athletes (and the universities that bring them in) aren’t focused on the completion of their graduate degree, but are simply transferring to play for a different coach in their final year of eligibility.

As a potential consequence, football and basketball graduate transfers with just one season of eligibility remaining will be counted against their team’s scholarship limits for TWO years, unless the transferring athlete completes their graduate degree before the next academic year begins.

Here are a couple of points to keep in mind regarding these proposed rule changes:

First, these proposed changes will be reviewed by Division I universities and conferences which may result in amendments being proposed for these proposals. The impact of these changes on Division I athletes could be revised by the time the proposals are brought up for a vote in April.

Second, these proposed changes don’t address whether scholarship athletes who are transferring as undergraduates will still need the permission or agreement of the program they are leaving in order to be immediately eligible at their new university. Therefore, scholarship athletes should remember that their current coach and athletic department will probably still have the option to object to their immediate eligibility at a new university and might need to seek an appeal of such an objection.

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It is harder to get college athletic looks when breaking out as a senior


The easiest way to get recruited and stay recruited during your high school athletic career is get to the varsity level early and make a name for yourself.  Also it is extremely important to have BIG SUMMER your soph-junior year in the big name showcases and camps.   By doing this, it makes it easier for you to get your name out to college coaches.  These coaches can see you early in your career and see the improvements that you have made over the off-season.  While this is the ideal way to go, it doesn’t always happen like that.

I recently had a comment from a parent who saw his  son really break on the scene this fall on the football field.  He was wondering when the recruiting attention would start after such a break out year.  The problem is that when you break out as a senior, it is a much tougher battle to impress college coaches and earn a college scholarship.  It may not be fair but that is the way it works in the world of recruiting.  Why? Cause the colleges are always planning a year out.  Ex… now coaches are focusing on 2020 class.

College coaches, especially at the Division I-A (BCS) level, like to get recruiting started and finished as early as possible.  These coaches are always looking ahead to the biggest and best thing.  They may be working to finish the the senior class but if a coach has been in the State for a while, they have a great feel on the upcoming juniors, sophomores, and possibly even freshmen.

Let me state that even if you are not on their initial radar, it doesn’t mean that you can’t earn a scholarship at the college at next level.  The problem is that you are going to have to work a lot harder to make up for lost time.  Most athletes don’t worry about which school will realistically offer them if they are not producing on the field.  You must now find a way to make up for that time and make the most of your opportunities in the eyes of college coaches.

If you are striving for Division I-A attention in any of the BCS schools and you don’t have interest from these programs, chances are slim that you can get a scholarship offer.  Walking on may be a potential thing to look into but break out seniors rarely receive Division I offers from those major programs.  As mentioned above, these schools are focused in on a number of targets that they have already evaluated and seen in person.  Getting them to watch your video this late in the process is not going to be easy.  Your tape must be amazing to really get a serious scholarship look from these schools (again, it can happen but the odds are against you).

In all honesty, my focus would be at the Division I-AA (FCS) and Division II levels.  These schools are normally a step behind in the recruiting process simply because they are waiting to see which athletes the Division I-A schools offer.  These FCS programs do offer a few athletes here and there but they usually wait until late November, December, and even January to really make it apparent as to which athletes they want to land in each class.

These schools rarely have commitments this early and that means more scholarship money is open at these schools.  If you can impress them with your recruiting profile, then there is a better chance to have them watch your highlight video.

A good example of getting this to happen is when a football player is either hurt his junior year or playing behind another Division I athlete during that year.  If that is the case, then you may be sitting there waiting in the wings and hoping for a chance.  At most schools, unless you are far and away better than the senior ahead of you (during your junior year), chances that you will be sitting most of the time.

If you are a recruit who just broke out during your senior year and have little recruiting interest, here are a few things that you should do differently that could help you get that scholarship offer:

  • Broaden your search: Don’t just focus on the big schools in your State.  Look at schools that may fit you all over the country and at all levels.  I don’t want to hear the Division I eyes excuse like I normally get either.
  • Put together a fantastic highlight tape: If you break out as a senior recruit, make sure that highlight tape is as good as it can be.  This will help.
  • Have a very professional recruiting profile ready to send: This needs to showcase what you did as a senior and why you didn’t do it as a junior.  These coaches need to know
  • Get your video out there: Put together a quality product on hudl and get it to Rivals, Scout, 247Sports, and others.
  • Contact media people in your area to try and help: What is the worst that can happen, they will say no?  Getting some publicity is a great thing
  • Make up for lost time: The next few months need to be spent researching schools, contacting coaches, and getting your name out there.  The time you spend will pay off if you work hard enough and are good enough on the field.
  • Twitter is your resume!  Use it to promote yourself..

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Why don’t I have an athletic scholarship offer?


At this time of year, college programs have been their recruiting boards in place for this class in all sports.  It doesn’t matter if it is football, volleyball, hockey, or any other sports.  These coaches should know what they are doing and who they will be recruiting over the next few months.  Some schools may already have a number of commitments but they know what they need to do to finish out recruiting this senior class.

And as an athlete or a family who has been going through the recruiting process, many are wondering why they don’t have a scholarship offer?  Again, this obviously is a unique situation that depends from athlete to athlete and case to case.  There is no one size fits all answer but I will try to do my best to figure it out and help you realize why there is no scholarship offer on the table.  Let me preface this by being brutally honest and you need to know that coming in.

You are not good enough
This goes with my mention of being brutally honest.  As an athlete or a parent, it is nearly impossible to really be able to determine if you are a scholarship athlete.  Athletes always think that they are better than they really are (I did back in the day myself) and that makes it extremely tough to judge fairly.  As for families, there is a parent bias that can never be shaken.  You will always think that your son or daughter is the best at what they do, regardless of their real ability.  That is just the way it goes and you have to realize that going in.

You haven’t marketed yourself to a wide enough scope
During the recruiting process, you decided to only target schools in the Big East to continue your football career.  The problem is that you are not a Big East type player.  You may think you are but coaches at all of those schools disagree.  That is why now is a great time to widen your base and look at other Division I-AA and II schools in your area or around the country.  You want the perfect fit athletically and academically but that doesn’t always have to be in your backyard.   Targeting new schools can definitely help matters.

You haven’t gotten your Hudl video/tape out
There is no doubt in my mind that getting a quality recruiting highlight video out is very important during the recruiting process.  If you have the time and abilities to do it on Hudl, then go ahead.  If not, tt may be worth looking into professional services that can produce an outstanding highlight video that can help catch the eye of college coaches.  If you haven’t done a tape, consider doing one.  If you have done one and the quality is terrible and the editing is bad, then it may be worth getting one professionally done.  This tape is essential, especially in the football recruiting process.

You don’t have enough relevant video to send out  
Say for example that in high school, you decided to take one for the team and make the move to quarterback.  The problem is that your future may be at another position.  Without relevant tape and if they can’t see you in person, it is going to be tough to sell a college coach on you playing tight end rather than quarterback.  That is why camps are so important during the summer so that the schools can work with you and your athleticism.

It is not far enough along in the process
I hate using this excuse because I have heard a ton of athletes say something similar.  But for football recruiting, most Division I-AA and II schools have not extended their scholarship offers.  These schools are still evaluating potential recruits and are trying to get a feel for these athletes and their interest during the winter months.

You don’t have the numbers that certain college coaches want
College coaches are huge into numbers like 40 time, bench press, vertical, and things of that nature.  Many love looking at these numbers and you may just be shy of what college coaches are looking for.  Your 4.7 40-yard dash time may be a tad too slow.  Your 6-foot frame may be a little small for what college coaches are looking for.

If you think you are a Division I athlete and an offer is not on the table yet, then it may be time to reevaluate that.  I am willing to admit that this is a very difficult process simply because you never know what can happen as schools can step in at the last minute.  But there is probably at least some reason why there is no an offer there yet.

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The different types of high school coaches during the recruiting process


When picturing how the athletic recruiting process will go for you, I would imagine that you feel it will be extremely smooth.  You will have a high school coach who does a great job marketing you to college coaches and that will eventually lead to multiple Division I offers before you sign with the school you grew up following.

Unfortunately, that dream scenario may happen in 1 out of 10,000 situations, if not less.  I have never actually been told by a family that the high school coach did enough for them in the recruiting process.  Usually I just hear complaints about how the coach doesn’t do anything/doesn’t care.  With this in mind, I have put together a list of the different types of high school coaches that families will encounter in the recruiting process.  Feel free to pick out which one your high school coach is.

Connected, motivated, and will travel
Qualities: Plain and simply does everything he can for all of his athletes to play at the college level.
More: This is the dream coach that likely doesn’t exist.  He is connected with college coaches that he has worked with over the last few years.  He is motivated to help his athletes find a home and will even take them to visits if they don’t have a ride.  I have one coach that I know who fits some of this but is a little too controlling (see more soon).  This type of coach may not exist simply because if someone works this hard, they want to take care of the entire process and control it all.

Pushing the top dogs
Qualities: Helps his best players find a future home and will do everything for them.
More: The focus of this coach is to help his best few players find a college.  He will call college coaches, market them, and maybe even make a highlight video for the best of the best.  But if you are not among that group, good luck getting any interest.

Over the top with control
Qualities: Wants to control everything about the recruiting process.
More: A perfect example is a coach who does an excellent job marketing his players but has told them he doesn’t want them to go to college camps because he doesn’t want them away from team workouts.  If an athlete has Division I offers already, then that is fine.  The problem occurs when an athlete is a fringe Division I player hoping to land a scholarship offer.  That hurts them in a huge way.

Willing to help when called upon
Qualities: When asked, they will help you.
More: The key for you is to jumpstart them and point them in the right direction.  You may need to ask them to call college coaches or send out tape.  Some people may need reminding multiple times and this coach is a perfect example.

Inactive
Qualities: Doesn’t do much or bring much to table.
More: Likely a coach with a lot on his plate.  It may be someone who teaches, is the athletic director, and has a family.  There is not much time on the side to be able to help you with the recruiting process.  They are overall inactive.

No clue
Qualities: The recruiting process?  What?
More: Likely a small school coach who has not played college athletics and has not seen any of their players go to the college level.  They have no clue what is going on.  A good example is a high school coach who told me that a major college program was likely going to offer one of his players.  I talked to the player and he said the college didn’t call in May.  The coach just doesn’t understand the process.

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