Most high school football players are unfamiliar with the college recruiting process when they first start receiving interest from various colleges. As a former college coach, I feel it is important for kids and parents to understand how the recruiting process works from the perspective of the coach.
Legally, college coaches can only send freshman or sophomore football players two documents, a questionnaire and a camp brochure. The NCAA prohibits anything else be sent prior to September 1st of a prospective player’s junior year. It is recommended that players fill out any questionnaire sent to them regardless of the college so that they don’t eliminate themselves from the recruiting process regardless of what grade they are in. If a college requests information on a player that is never returned, unless that player is a “blue chip” or highly ranked recruit, often a college will stop pursuing that player. Highly ranked players will often be heavily pursued by a number of colleges all the way up until that player signs a letter of intent to play for a particular program.
Colleges will typically identify positions of need to recruit and then create a list of players at each position that they are interested in pursuing. These players will be put onto a recruiting board, in order, with the number one player of interest at the top of the list. There can be a number of players on that list at each position. Coaches are assigned to geographical regions of the country to recruit and players that are on the list in that area will be assigned to the coach for that region. A player will be most heavily recruited after September 1st of his junior year as previously stated. Even though a player may be recruited by a college that he is not necessarily interested in attending, it is highly advised that the player be receptive to that college. As mentioned, if a player is not receptive to the efforts of a college to recruit him, often the college will no longer pursue that prospect.
All prospects on a list will be recruited until a college has signed the designated number of players that they are recruiting at a specific position. In other words, if a college happens to sign, or even get a verbal commitment from the top three running back prospects on their list, they will typically stop pursuing the other players on that list. If the number one and two players on a college’s list at a particular position commit to another college, all the players on the list below the top two players will move up two slots on that list. Since players do not know what number they are on a list it is advisable that they assume they are a top priority of that college unless told otherwise. The principle here is for a player not to eliminate himself.
When it comes time to decide which college to attend a player wants to have as many options as possible. If a player eliminates himself from the recruiting process by not responding to a college, simply because it may not be the ideal program for that player, often a player can be left with zero choices come signing day. If a player is number four on a list a college will continue to pursue that player until the three players above him are signed. That could happen as late as one week prior to the signing date. If that player has eliminated himself from other colleges thinking that he will sign with the college that has him at number four on the list you can see the problem here. So, it is very important that a player allow himself as many choices as possible by “staying in the recruiting game” until it is time to make a decision. Hope this helps get you started and we look forward to providing lots more information on this subject!
Coach Van Tassel