Playing college football is a dream for many high schoolers but the recruiting process can be confusing and complex for many and it can be difficult to understand where to start. NCAA stats show that only seven percent of high school football players will go to the college level, and of that seven percent, and only three percent will play in D-i schools. Additionally, not all football players will receive full or even partial athletic scholarships. These numbers should not discourage you, and the following article can help you understand the process and what you need to make it to the next level.
Athletes can start the recruitment process by looking at different institutions that fit their athletic needs as well as deciding which division they qualify for. This helps students narrow down their schools and focus on reaching out to these target schools. It is best for recruits to find five key schools that they get mutual interest from, and these are the schools recruits can expect offer letters from around their late junior year and senior year of high school.
Students can proactively reach out to coaches and many schools/coaches are open to communicating with prospects through email and digital footage, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. This is advantageous to students who can now reach out to schools across the country, and do not need to rely on recruiters coming to visit them. The D1 football recruiting period usually goes through June 1st but this doesn’t mean that coaches won’t respond to virtual recruiting videos. Sharing some key stats, videos, and why you're interested in their program can out you on their radar, and can allow you to continue staying in contact with them and updating them on your high school progress. This will also give you a chance to be familiar with the program and coach prior to your campus visit sometime during your senior year.
Remember, getting recruited to play college football is in your hands, and athletes can no longer afford to wait around to be recruited. Only about the top 200 nationally recruits truly get “discovered” and offers sent to them without much work. The rest of the players, even future NFL players, would have been overlooked had they not taken a proactive approach to the recruiting process.
Crafting A School List
Creating a school list can be overwhelming, especially when you have so many programs to choose from. It is also advised to choose schools from different NCAA divisions as this maximizes your chance of getting recruited as well as getting a substantial scholarship. The following is a good way to organize your school list
- Ten Target Schools: These are schools that are good matches both athletically and academically and that you feel best fit your needs environmentally. These should be the ones you focus on in the recruiting process.
- Five Safety Schools: These Schools are ones that are a fit for you and that you know you will be able to play for. It is important to stay in contact with these coaches and show your genuine interest in these schools
- Five Reach Schools: These schools may be more competitive, but they are a good goal to set and are not completely impossible to get into.
Understanding the recruiting timeline is a key component to understanding the process. The process technically starts the second a high schooler chooses to play at the collegiate level. The next step is researching schools as discussed above, and then creating quality highlight videos and compiling the rights stats and plays that highlight your strengths as a player. These steps set up the groundwork for successful recruitment and most of it should be done in a player’s freshman and sophomore year of high school.
While some of the best athletes may receive D-1 offers as early as middle school, majority of high schoolers can expect to serious recruiting in their sophomore and junior years of high school. By the end of the recruit’s junior year most D-1 schools will have filled their roster for a recruiting class, and the latest would be early senior year. D2, D3, and NAIA schools typically wait to recruit until late junior year and through senior year.
The sooner you start the recruiting process, the sooner you can understand where you stand in the recruitment pool. Additionally more opportunities will be available to you if you get your name out sooner, and D-I roster spots fill up quickly, and reaching out too late can be the difference between playing for your favorite school or their in-state competition.
Redshirt Rules and Impact on Recruiting
In the past few years the NCAA changed their redshirt rules for DI football so that players can now compete in up to four games without losing their year of eligibility. Since nearly half of football players redshirt, this rule has changed the way recruiting is being done. As a player it is important to ask the developmental opportunities and meaningful playtime being offered to you as a redshirt freshman. Coaches may also use these aspects to make their program more appealing to a player.