(photo via gridironstuds.com)
There are numerous ways to go about the college football recruitment process. As young athletes, high school seniors are often dazzled by fancy locker rooms and program facilities during their visits, or jump at the first offer they get because the uncertainty in getting another one is torture.
Fortunately, enough people have gone through the process and have tips for future college athletes to take to make the most out of their recruitment experience.
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Here are some guidelines, based on information we gathered from the linked articles below:
1. Be humbled and organized in the number of offers you get
Some athletes will get 30 offers and some will get fewer than five. Here’s the catch: It doesn’t matter either way. The whole experience should be enjoyable, but not by means of boasting about having more offers than other teammates. Yes, coaches look at how many offers a player has, but that can be redeemed on the field if the number is low. Preparation and hard work on the field will speak louder than the person who is bragging about having more offers. As Auburn University coach Gus Malzahn puts it, “If you come in here and you’re consistent, you put in the work, you put in the time, you put in the effort and then you can make plays.”
The other component is organization. With multiple offers, it’s important to be considering each one individually.
“You really get information overload. You have to find a way to organize it," said Murray Starkel, father of Texas A&M quarterback Nick Starkel, who also played for the U.S. National Team in 2016. "Otherwise, you lose track. Nick had six offers. I can't imagine having 30 and trying to keep track of when you talked to coaches."
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Develop a separate game plan for each that will evaluate the college, the program and the coaches. When it comes time to decide on a school and a team, the process will be easier.
2. Choose the school that’s right for YOU
Many factors can influence on this decision. This part is generally where athletes start to feel the pressure. It’s important to remember that this is also a decision about your education, not just football. Do your research and find a fit that complements values for both academics and athletics. After all, the reason for going to college is to get an education for life after football.
Based on a blog from Gridiron Studs, the unofficial visits are the ones that are going to feel more real than the official visits. So, take a visit during spring or summer break to get a more authentic feel for campus life.
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Most importantly, don’t take the back seat in this decision. It will be one of the first real adult choices coming out of high school, so it’s necessary to make sure it’s your preference, not someone else's. Even if the pressure to go to your parents’ alma mater is high, stick with your intuition.
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3. Make your commitment when you can answer why you’re committing
If you can’t tell someone why you chose a specific program, it’s probably not the right fit for you. Don’t forget that the recruiting process is also a business. While a coach may genuinely be interested in having you on the team, they are also giving a similar, if not, the same speech to another recruit. Many coaches will add pressure by telling recruits there are only so many spots left. In extreme cases, programs will use bribes to recruit players. During former Alabama quarterback Cooper Bateman’s recruiting experience, he said some schools took it too far.
"Some of the things they said, promises they made, it's far out there." Bateman said.
But don’t let this deter you. There are plenty of coaches out there who will be realistic on what to expect from their program and care about you as a person, not just a player.
Joe Osovet, a Tennessee assistant who used to coach at ASA College in Brooklyn, told Football Scoop (while he was still at ASA) he worries players are more interested in the benefits that playing football will bring them instead of simply playing football.
“I ask every recruit the first time I speak to them, ‘Do you truly LOVE football?’ The reason I ask them this is that the sacrifice, time commitment and time management skills are significantly different than that of the normal student.” Osovet said.
So, do your research. Keep your unofficial visit in mind. You’ll have people motivating you in a certain direction; Make sure they have your best interest in mind. This decision is about you only, so don’t worry about where your friends are committing to. Once you’ve committed, stay committed and show you’re capable of dedication. Most importantly, have fun! This experience only happens once in your life.