College athletic recruiting process

I play a sport with timed results. Will that help me get recruited?

Do you play a sport like swimming or track and field with timed results? How can you use those to your advantage in the college athletic recruiting process?

My friend reached out to me recently and asked the following: In your expert opinion, for sports with factual results, like running times, or jump heights, how important is it for a college coach to see you perform? Or do they just pick kids in rank order based on their performance?

I try not to lump all college coaches into one category. They are all individuals who often look for different traits in a potential recruit and they all recruit differently. Most college coaches, however, need to see an athlete perform multiple times and usually in a meaningful game. What’s a meaningful game you ask? It’s an event where something is on the line if you win or lose, unlike say, a showcase game. This can give the college coach a sense of how you handle pressure, how you handle winning, how you handle losing, how you treat teammates, coaches, ref’s, opponents and so forth. This is an important step in the recruiting process. A college coach needs to know not only what type of athlete they are recruiting but what type of person. To many coaches, your character and desire is more important than your skill, especially when you start to look at colleges more focused on academics than athletics.

I spoke to a college coach years ago who went to a game to see a prospect and they left before the game started. Why? Because 10 minutes before the game the player had his shirt off and was talking to a bunch of girls. Maybe he hit 3 home runs that day, but we will never know! The coach wanted a player more focused on THE GAME. Maybe that player had amazing stats, but college coaches don’t recruit stats.

I also know coaches that coach in places that less people have heard of or at new programs and they will reach out to me and say “Dave, do you know any female golfers that want to play in college? At this point I will take anyone that knows what side of the tee to tee up the ball or else I won’t have a team to field this season!” Yes, that is a true story!

College athletic recruiting process

While sports that are timed like swimming or running can give you an advantage in the recruiting process because it’s a tangible score that can be compared to other high school or college athletes, the college coach will ask themselves three important questions when evaluating a high school athlete.

1 -What is this athlete’s technique like?

2 – How much will they possibly grow physically?

3 – Given question 1 and 2, how much better could more experience and my coaching make them?

If you were a track coach and saw Tom Brady glacially run his 40 yard dash at the NFL combine 20 years ago, you might say to yourself, “His technique is awful, but with a few years of training (both in technique and weight lifting and/or running drills), I can probably shave a few 10ths of a second off his running time, so he hasn’t peaked yet and I can make him faster!”

The same coach might see Usain Bolt and say ‘Wow, he’s peaked physically and his technique is amazing and there is nothing I could improve for him and he probably won’t get much faster!” Obviously no one is faster than Bolt, but you get the point! One athlete has peaked, and the other can only improve.

So a coach will look at a high school athlete and try to see where they are now and what their potential is. If they have peaked physically and their technique is good, the coach may think that they are, for example, running or swimming about as fast as they will run or swim. I say peaked physically with a grain of salt. Everyone can get a little bigger or faster or stronger, but some high school athletes have already hit their growth spurt physically where others have not. Lebron James in high school is a good example of someone who was physically ahead of virtually every other player at that age.

In this scenario, if your times are as good if not better than the college times of the school(s) you are interested in, it may be easier to get recruited purely on your times regardless of whether you have peaked physically because you are in a sense, already good enough and your times prove it!

If your times are slower and you have peaked physically to some degree, a coach might pass because they might not see the ability for you to improve much beyond where you are. So in this case your times can impact you negatively in the recruiting process.

On the flip side, if they see the potential to greatly improve your technique and improve your physical traits (think Tom Brady running at the NFL combine again) and your times are close to that of the college times but not quite there, the coach may realize that you will only improve with more training and experience. That is where your recruiting advantage can come with having a physical time to compare to someone or something else. As they often say, the scoreboard doesn’t lie! In reality, every college coach will try to project your potential regardless of what sport you play.

That’s a very long-winded way of saying it really depends on the individual coach and the individual athlete. If you are the fastest kids in the country and have good grades, a coach 3,000 miles away might take a flyer on you with some good recommendations about your work ethic and personality without having to see you actually perform. But you have to factor in grades, team needs, work ethic and desire and so forth, and none  of that can be shown by simply telling a coach how fast you run or how fast you swim or how high you jump. Even at the pro level, there is a long list of athletes who were amazing athletes but didn’t stick around because of their work ethic, attitude or addiction to something detrimental. Antonio Brown come to mind?

Every high school athlete involved in the athletic recruiting process needs to research different programs and reach out to college coaches to see what their needs are. Once you have done that, you need to find a way to display your talents, personality and work ethic to those coaches so they can evaluate you. That goes for every sport. If you play a sport with physical times, that can give you an advantage in the recruiting process, but there is so much more a college coach looks for.

How do I get recruited to play college sports

How do I get recruited to play college sports?

How do I get recruited to play college sports?

There is a good quote. If you don’t have time to do it right, you sure don’t have time to do it twice. The college athletic recruiting process should not sneak up on you. It takes time, preparation, hard work and a little luck. Follow these 8 tips to help you be more successful

Here are 8 tips to help you succeed in the college athletic recruiting process

How important are academics in the athletic recruiting process?

1 – Be a really good Student. While big-time football and basketball programs may have some lax academic standards for recruits, most college coaches will not recruit you if you are not close to what their college looks for academically. You need to focus on your grades and research colleges where your academic record is a fit with what that college looks for in an applicant. While coaches have the ability to submit lists of student-athletes they are actively recruiting to admissions, this varies at every college as to how effective it can be!

How important is athletic skill in the athletic recruiting process?

2 – Be a good athlete. My summer coach used to talk about the pyramid where you have all the high school athletes here, then you have college athletes above and then you have pro athletes above. Some athletes are simply better than others, a fact you must accept. This doesn’t mean you cannot work on your game as well as your physical attributes (size, speed, stamina, coordination) to get better. Work on all aspects of your game. Work on your weaknesses. Work on how you approach the game mentally. Work on learning the rules of the game and so forth to try and get better.

How realistic do I need to be in the athletic recruiting process?

3 – Be realistic. You may have aspirations of playing football for Alabama or Basketball for Kentucky, but only a select few high school athletes have the skills to play for programs of that caliber. There are over 1,000 NCAA colleges and several hundred NAIA and Junior colleges that you can potentially play your sport at. It’s important to try and find a college where your skills match up with the level of play in a given program. You might not be able to play at a high level D1 program (or even a highly skilled D2 or D3 team), and you might not qualify for athletic scholarship money, but if you have the skills to play in college and apply yourself in the athletic recruiting process, there is a place for you to play! See: How do I determine what level I can play at?

How proactive do I need to be in the athletic recruiting process?

4 – Be proactive. While a few students are “discovered” being found is mostly a myth. College coaches rely on high school athletes reaching out to them for the purposes of being recruited. You need to fill out online recruit forms on the college’s website, email coaches directly and in many cases, call them to introduce yourself. Do not try to get recruited from one email or one phone call, rather focus on simply introducing yourself to them as a person who is potentially interested in their school and program. See: How do I contact college coaches?

How many programs do I need to research for the athletic recruiting process?

5 – Do the research. The mistake many families make in the recruiting process is they reach out to colleges and coaches at schools they are not qualified to play at. While college coaches like to hear directly from recruits, they like to hear from recruits that have done some research on their school and program and think it might be a potential fit. So, before you are proactive in contacting them, you need to be proactive in researching many different programs. Who does the school play? who does the coach recruit? Where does the coach recruit?

How do I evaluate my athletic skill for the athletic recruiting process?

6 – Evaluate your athletic skill. Determining your athletic skill can sometimes be tricky but self-reflection helps. How do you perform against other players at your high school? How do you perform vs. other players in your league? How do you perform against other players in your State? How do you perform against other players in the country? The recruiting process is a global process. You are not competing against players on your high school team, you are competing against every qualified high school athlete in the country if not the world in some cases! You need to play in different events and venues against different competition in order to understand how your skills compare to other players. See: How do I determine what college level I can play at?

How much athletic scholarship money is out there?

7 – Be prepared to pay for college. Many parents are chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to recoup the investment they have made in their child’s athletic career thus far. After Division 1 football and Division 1 basketball, there is very little money in the form of athletic scholarships for other sports. In reality, you might have a better chance to be an academic star and apply to colleges that have a hard time attracting applicants in the hopes of receiving academic aid and grants. Sports like baseball with 11.7 D1 scholarships or Lacrosse with 12.6 athletic scholarships divide their athletic scholarship money between many recruits, and that is if the program is even fully funded which many are not. Despite your talents, if you receive a one third athletic scholarship at a private college, you will be on the hook for an additional $40,000 in tuition money each year if you don’t qualify for financial aid. See: What are the odds for an athletic scholarship?

How hard is it to be recruited by college athletic coaches?

8 – Get off the beaten path. There are colleges that receive 30,000 applications a year and colleges that many recruits gravitate to because of the success of the program, reputation, coolness factor and so forth. The John Hopkins Lacrosse team is not hurting for recruits as just about every lacrosse player of note in high school probably wants to play there. Then there are programs like Occidental College that just canceled the remainder of their D3 football schedule because they lacked enough players to continue the season. When you subtract the colleges you know from watching football or basketball on TV and the colleges you know near where you live, there are another 900+ colleges you have never heard of that all potentially offer an opportunity to play college sports. The more research you do, and the more college coaches you reach out to, the more recruiting opportunities you will create.

For more information on succeeding in the college athletic recruiting process, check out The Making of a Student-Athlete our 241 page guide.

Will Specializing in One Sport help me get Recruited?

How does specialization play a role in the athletic recruiting process? Do I need to specialize?

I field many questions from parents and recruits via email. I often find myself repeating the same line, “what is right for one family is not necessarily right for another family!”

Do I need to play one sport in high school in order to be recruited?

Specialization is a controversial topic. I was a multi-sport athlete and I think it made me a better overall athlete. I played a ton of pick up basketball and for some reason, by the 11th grade at 5’11”, I could dunk a basketball. I played a lot of golf and baseball in the summer. I was a skier. I played hockey and soccer when I was younger. I golfed right handed but played hockey left handed. In this day and age, some specialization is necessary to stand out from the pack from a recruiting standpoint, but how much is too much is not a question for me to answer. Some kids love one sport and just want to play one sport. If you feel that is the right path for you, then I won’t tell you otherwise. This doesn’t mean play one sport every day for 12 months of the year until you need Tommy John surgery because your arm cannot make another throw. You need to understand your body, your limits and how rest (both mental rest and physical rest) will aid in your athletic development.

From a recruiting standpoint, there are advantages and disadvantages. College coaches want to recruit high school athletes that are really good at their sport, and getting really good requires some form of specialization unless you are just naturally talented at your sport. But college coaches also like to recruit really good athletes and becoming a really good athlete often requires playing multiple sports. There is a fine line between stretching yourself thin with many sports and seasons and playing, say, baseball 12 months out of the year.

But what is right for you and your family, may not be right for another family. There are two huge challenges in the athletic recruiting process. The first is when and where college coaches recruit. College coaches rarely if ever attend high school game to discover recruits. Why? Well, one, it’s not a great use of their time. Given the opportunity to attend a high school game where they might see one or two athletes that have the ability to play in college or a high level tournament with 200 players that all might be able to play in college, they will choose the event that maximizes their exposure to the most high school athletes. Two, and this is the big one, they cannot attend high school games because your games take place at the exact same time as THEIR games! This is a concept lost on many families in the recruiting process. If you see a college coach at a high school game, there are two reasons they are there. One, to scout a specific recruit they are actively recruiting and have already communicated with! Two, because they had a day or night off and are at a game with two schools that might have really good teams and players that might be close to their college.

Where are college coaches recruiting high school athletes?

Most recruiting takes place in the summer because college coaches are free that time to recruit. Some host their own athletic camps on their campus which is a great way for them to see kids perform over several days and a great way for you to get the feel for a school and coach. Please see our article What is your summer athletic recruiting plan? for more detailed information on how to maximize the athletic camp process for recruiting purposes. Others attend regional showcases and AAU/Club tournaments either to see players that have already expressed interest in their school or players that are of higher skill than your typical high school game.

Do you need to specialize in one sport to be recruited

Do I need to specialize in one sport to be recruited?

So this creates a dilemma. We have doctors and trainers and other sports professionals telling us that too much specialization is detrimental to the development of young athletes (and detrimental to their parent’s wallets), but we have a system where they need to specialize in some capacity if they wish to get recruited to play college athletics. We even have college coaches telling high school athletes to play multiple sports because they like to recruit multi-sport athletes, but those same coaches are not able or willing to attend your games when your main sport takes place in high school so if I am trying to get recruited for baseball how will playing golf in the summer help me when college coaches are running baseball camps and at baseball tournaments? And herein lies this huge problem without an acceptable or clear answer. This makes me circle back to the “what is right for one family is not necessarily right for another family!”

There are so many factors to consider. You could be counting on an athletic scholarship because it’s the only way you get to attend and pay for college. You might live hundreds of miles away from the nearest college and need to travel out of your State to simply be seen by ANY college coach. But there are so many factors to consider in those variables. For instance, you might play a sport where there just isn’t that much athletic scholarship money to go around (which is every sport not named football and basketball). Years ago I read an article about a family spending $40,000 a year to send their son to one of those private sports academy’s that pretend to also be a high school where you live at the school like a college. Their goal was to get a soccer scholarship in college. Think about that for a second! You are spending more money than you will probably get back!

The bottom line is many families are chasing the pot of golf at the end of the rainbow in the form of an athletic scholarship and when they get to the end of the rainbow there isn’t much gold to go around. If a college coach is lucky enough to have a decent amount of scholarships for his or her team, they are dividing that money up to 15 or 20 recruits in some cases. Some coaches are dividing one athletic scholarship up to 5 or 6 players, if not more.

You need to evaluate your situation and evaluate what you are trying to accomplish. A high school athlete in Massachusetts where there are 46 colleges at multiple levels that are both public and private may have much different goals and a much different recruiting process than a high school athlete in Louisiana where there are only 12 D1 schools that are mostly State schools and only two Division 3 school to choose from. It will be even different for the high school athlete in Minnesota where there are only 2 Division 1 Universities in the entire State.

And remember, “what is right for one family is not necessarily right for another family!”

How to get recruited down south

How Weather and Climate Can Affect Your College Athletic Recruiting Process.

How Climate Can Affect you and your athletic recruiting process

Snowmageddon coming to New England and the college recruiting process.

With the impending blizzard rumored to be dumping 24 inches of snow on New England this week, thousands of college athletes who play spring sports are soon going to be wondering if they will have a season. And thousands of high school athletes are wondering if they want to stick around here for four more years to play college athletics. Two weeks ago, it was 70 here. People were at the driving range, flowers were coming up and life was good. Now, not so much.

The lure to play college athletics in a warm climate is a powerful one, but often one fraught with challenges. I myself was a victim who went south to Florida from Massachusetts to escape many things when I was younger. My college career in Florida lasted all of two weeks. The players from there were simply better and the recruits who were recruited from out-of-state were also better. While specialization is a controversial topic I have addressed in other articles, when given two equal players of similar athletic ability, the player that specializes in one sport is probably going to be a little better just like the lawyer who studies more law is going to be a better lawyer.  In New England, you often have players that play football in the fall and basketball in the winter and maybe baseball in the spring, then they play their dominant sport in the summer! In Florida and other southern states, you have athletes concentrating on one sport more and athletes that can concentrate on one sport more because of the weather! There is simply 4 months in New England and other players where you simply cannot play baseball or softball outside because it’s simply too cold!

The high school baseball player from New England or Michigan (pick a place that is cold) has many disadvantages when trying to play baseball in a state like Texas or Florida. Let’s stick with Florida. It’s a state with thousands of high school baseball players who play their sport year-round. It’s a state with many talented college baseball programs at all levels, even the D3 programs. If you are interested in playing against the best, you don’t have to leave the State for college and you can attend a State School for half the money of a school in another State. On a side note, Florida also guarantees admission to State Schools in a program called the Talented Twenty program for academic qualifiers.

From a college coach’s perspective, you can fill your roster with recruits in your own backyard without having to leave the state. Teams like Saint Leo, Nova Southeastern, or Florida Southern have rosters comprised of virtually all players from the state of Florida.  Even big schools like Miami and Florida State recruit almost exclusively in the state. If you are a college coach at a State School, you have the added benefit of being able to stretch your precious scholarship dollars further with in-state recruits who qualify for a lower tuition number. While a star player from Minnesota might want to come to Florida to play baseball, a college coach may have little or no college scholarship money to offer them. Now that player must decide if they want to turn down offers locally to pay full freight at a school in another state just because it’s warmer!

So where does this leave the out-of-state recruit who doesn’t want his arm falling off playing in New England in the “spring” where it’s 39 degrees out for half your games? On the outside, unfortunately!

The biggest challenge for out-of-state recruits is that not only do they have to be as good as their Florida counterparts, they have to be better! Here’s why. When a northern kid comes to Florida, they have different expectations. They were a star on their team and they expect to play. When they don’t play right away, they realize they could be playing at the long list of schools that were recruiting them locally back home. What happens now is they get frustrated and leave. Southern coaches have seen it time and time again, and they are often weary of recruiting kids up north because of this. When the Florida player doesn’t play right away, they don’t flee home, because they are home! Not playing right away is not as much of an issue. They understand the talent in their state and that they must bide their time. They don’t pack their bags and call the coach in Maine to fly 1,500 miles from home to play baseball in an igloo!

So how do you succeed down south?

1 – You have to be extremely talented and confidant in your abilities.

2 – You need to see how your skills match up with local players somehow, possibly through a team that travels down south to play local teams! Simply assuming your skills will translate to a given state or school down south “just because” won’t cut it. This goes for any college really. You can never assume you can play anywhere until you have done your research on what types of players a school recruits!

3 – You have to really connect with college coaches and try to understand what their plans or expectations are for you. This isn’t always easy and some coaches will be more honest with you than others.

4 – You have to be patient. You might now be a small fish in a big pond. You might not play right away. This is hard for every incoming freshman athlete, but can be harder for the elite high school players who haven’t sat on the bench since 5th grade!

5 – You have to be willing to potentially pay more for college. Any state school is probably going to recruit more in-state players simply because their scholarship dollars can be stretch further.  They may want you on their team, but they might not have any or very little money to offer you.

Two additional points. Many of the things you need to succeed down south are things you need to succeed at any college. Two, don’t simply try to go down south just because it’s warm. There may be hundreds of great colleges in your area that you can both play at and get a great education that you might dismiss otherwise. We met a player years ago, who was a top golfer getting recruited by many colleges throughout the country. He chose to go to school in Michigan. When we asked why he simply said, “I need to go to a place where it snows so I have time of mentally and physically from golf and I know if I go down south, I won’t have that!” - College Athletic Recruiting Process

Five Factors That Will Determine Your Success or Failure in the Athletic Recruiting Process

What factors do we need to consider in the college athletic recruiting process?

There are many things to consider in the college athletic recruiting process for high school athletes and their parents. What works for one family will not work for another. Where one family succeeds, another might fail. While there are some best practices, there is no set path to success and no road map to follow that will guarantee the outcome you desire. There is a lot of luck too! With that being said, I believe there are 5 non-negotiable factors in the recruiting process that you must check off in order to succeed as a college athlete and graduate with a degree.


This one is pretty simple. Your grades will ultimately determine what colleges you can get accepted to. The first question a college coach will usually ask you is “how are your grades?” For them, if they aren’t up to par, it’s not worth their energy to pursue you because no amount of athletic skill is going to get you accepted at most institutions if your grades and test scores are too low. We aren’t even discussing NCAA eligibility, because the criteria for that is far lower than what most colleges require academically for acceptance. Do coaches have some sway on the acceptance process? They sure do. College coaches can submit lists of high school recruits they are actively recruiting and would like to see attend their institution for consideration to their admissions department. This practice and the strength of this practice varies at every school. Regardless of how prevalent this practice is, the most important factor needs to be that your grades and test scores need to be extremely close to what the school considers in every student that applies each year. Want to go to Vanderbilt? Fantastic, 94% of their admitted applicants in 2016 were in the top 10% of their graduating class. The next important piece of this puzzle is that while schools may bend, they will only bend in a few instances, meaning they might let one fringe student-athlete in for the soccer team and one for the baseball team and one for the field hockey team and so forth. Since you cannot control who the coach is recruiting and who the other 20 coaches at that school are recruiting, you might be on the low end of the low end of recruits who are on the bubble academically. At the end of the day, if you cannot get into the school with your academic record, your recruiting process is over and no amount of skill or ability is going to change that for many schools!


Once you have cracked the academic challenge, the next biggest factor is your athletic skill. There are 3 NCAA divisions and roughly 1,200 colleges that compete and several hundred NAIA and NJCAA schools. No two schools or programs are alike. What one college coach values, another may not. Where one college team succeeds, another in their conference may not! While Rudy was a great movie, Rudy would have been better served attending a small D3 college if his goal was to play college football. While your desire may be to play basketball at Kentucky or Baseball at LSU, or football at Notre Dame, only a few elite high school athletes have the skills to play at those levels. While we encourage high school athletes to aim high, you need to aim where your skills and abilities will be a good fit! At the end of the day, if you cannot play at a given school given your athletic abilities, your recruiting process for that school is over. Matching your athletic skills with a given program is challenging. You need to do some self-reflection, seek out opinions of other skilled coaches who have seen you play and you may need to get out of your town or league and compete against other high school athletes to get a better sense of where your skills lie. Once you have done that, you need to research different college programs in detail. Who do they play against? What is their success rate? What types of players does the coach recruit and from where? The very best programs recruit players from the entire world. The smaller programs might recruit players within 50 miles of their school but it’s different for EVERY school!

5 factors in the college athletic recruiting process

5 factors in the college athletic recruiting process


College is expensive, even the public colleges are creeping up in price. Finances plays a role in every family’s college choice and no one wants to leave school with massive student loan debt that will hound you for years after graduation. We always tell families to never dismiss any college until you have explored the financial aid process for that college to see what aid you might qualify for but past that, finances must be considered. With the exception of football and basketball at the D1 level, there is very little athletic scholarship money to go around. Other sports simply do not generate revenue at the college level and less resources are given to those programs in the form of athletic scholarships. I know many D1 programs that have one or two scholarships for the entire team. The other factor to consider is that even if a team is fully funded with the max level of athletic scholarships, the coach usually divides those to many players. A D1 baseball team is allowed 11.78 scholarships per team, but most rosters will contain 30+ players. If you are an elite player, you might get some full scholarship offers in baseball, but in most cases, the coach will divide those scholarships up into percentages like 33%. If you want to attend private school and receive a 33% athletic scholarship, you may need to find an additional $40,000 to cover tuition. You must explore all your options financially. Grants, loans, merit aid, financial aid and academic scholarships. At the end of the day, you must be able to pay for college and/or decide how much student loan debt you can tolerate after graduation.


Let’s stick with the theme here, every college is different. Some colleges have 40,000 students and some have 2,000. Some are in big cities and others are in the middle of cornfields. Some are sprawled across 20 city blocks where you take buses to classes or dorms and others can be walked end to end in 10 minutes. Some will have students from all over the world and others will have students that all live within 50 miles from your hometown. Some colleges might be too liberal for you, while others might be too conservative. The social aspect of a college and how that will affect you might be harder to figure out, but you need some understanding of who you are and what you are looking for. If you dislike cities or crowds, then I wouldn’t suggest going to a big school in a city. If you think you will be bored at a small school with 1,500 students’, you very well might be. You need to spend some time on college tours to try and understand the school and understand whether you will be happy there for four or five years. And if your athletic scholarship is tied to you being happy, then you really need to pick the right school socially for you.


The geography of a school can play a dual role in your success as a college athlete. One, geography can determine how good a given athletic program is. Colleges that play in warmer climates often attract better players who want the ability to play more games in better weather. The State of Florida is a great example of this, not only does the State produce many talented high school baseball players, but top players from throughout other parts of the country gravitate to colleges there from colder climates because playing baseball in April in Michigan or New England in 40 degree weather simply isn’t that enjoyable. The second factor that geography can play is how far you want your safety net of home and how involved you want your parents in your athletic career. My parents drove down from Massachusetts to Connecticut every weekend to see me play. Had I been somewhere else, they might not have gotten to experience my college athletic career. I was also afforded the ability to travel home more easily given the shorter distance when I needed to. But geography can play opposite role as well. Several years ago we met an extremely talented golfer who was being recruited nationally. One would think he would have chose a school where it is warm year-round so he could play year-round. The opposite happened. He chose a school in a colder climate that had a real winter. When we asked why, his answer made sense. He said, “I needed to go to a place where it snowed in the winter so I would get a mental and physical break from golf, and I knew if I went down south, I would be at the range or the course every day for 9 months and that is simply something I didn’t want to do!” It’s really important to understand how geography plays a role in the skill of a given college program and how the coach recruits. Geography can play a huge role in your success or happiness. There are fewer elite players in warm climates beating down the doors to go play at colleges where it snows in the winter, but there are thousands of elite players beating down the doors of other colleges where the weather is better. It’s also important to understand how being 20 miles from home or 2,000 miles from home is going to affect your psyche. Some high school athletes cannot wait to get far away from home, and others struggle with distance.

So how do these five concepts affect my recruiting process? Excellent question! The first two will greatly impact your recruiting process. If you cannot gain acceptance to schools you are potentially interested in, or schools where coaches want to recruit you, your process is over! If you do not have the skills to play at certain programs (or any program), your recruiting process is over. The financial, social and geographical concepts are tricky. You might not be thrilled with any of the three but you might be able to function and succeed as a college athlete depending on how tolerant you can be with any and all of them. Perhaps your parents are happy flying out once a year to see you play. Perhaps playing baseball or soccer in colder weather isn’t terrible because you are at a great school and getting a great education which will have value down the road in your professional career. Perhaps you don’t have time to interact with the students that are too liberal or too conservative at your school because you are so busy with your studies and your athletic career! Perhaps you absorb some student loan debt at a better college because it will offer you the chance at a better job upon graduation and will be easier to pay off. - College Athletic Recruiting Process

Being recruited vs. Recruiting: How to Increase your Ability to Choose What College You Attend

Can high school athletes control what college coaches recruit them?

I read an article recently about a recruiting seminar by a “renowned speaker.” He says: “You don’t choose the colleges. The colleges choose you.” I beg to differ!!!

While your non-athletic classmates are busy researching, applying to and “choosing schools”, high school athletes seem to think they are “chosen”, and they often wait for the process of recruiting to unfold around them and wait to see what coach calls them and what offers they get!

There are three kinds of student-athletes vying for college athletic roster spots, – athletes that get recruited – athletes that recruit – and athletes that do neither but expect to be recruited. While athletes that get recruited often have an easier time with the recruiting process, it’s the student-athletes that recruit a school who often are the most successful in the process and find a good balance of school and athletics. This is because the latter group chose colleges based on certain criteria, rather than having a college and a coach choose them. Many blue-chip athletes allow themselves to be chosen by a school solely based on athletic prowess and could care little about what else the school offers. One highly touted football recruit a few years ago when asked why he chose the school he picked over several others simply said, “The cafeteria had a soft serve ice cream machine!”

The recruiting process is about discovery, knowledge, desires, and making an informed decision that is the best decision for YOU, not right for the coach, not right for the school, and in some cases not even right for your parents. Best doesn’t mean the most scholarship money, the best team, the team on TV every Saturday, or the team featured in Sports Illustrated every week, or the strongest athletic program. Best we believe is the school that provides you the combination of these four ideas.

How do high school athletes choose what college is best for them?

1. The athletic program that allows you to participate at your desired level against the best competition you can compete with and against.
2. The academic programs that allow you to learn and succeed, and prepares you for gaining employment and a successful working career after college in a subject, field, or major you have an active interest in.
3. A social environment that allows you to go grow as an individual, experience things you may not otherwise get the chance to experience and make life lasting friendships.
4. A school that you can afford to pay for without incurring large student-loans that will hang around after you graduate.

Again, geographic location should be considered if you think you will be unhappy far away from home, if traveling back and forth may be a problem, or if your family will want to watch you play often. If any of these four attributes are out of balance, it can cause major problems for student-athletes.

Now, back to the question of whether the colleges choose you! There is some truth to this because college coaches will contact or come into contact with perhaps a few hundred high school athletes and then based on the coach’s needs, and the feedback they get, they reduce that list of potential recruits and eventually make offers. The coaches in a sense choose who they want. But the process works both ways and you have to take control of what you can control in your process.

What can high school athletes control in the athletic recruiting process?

You can control how hard you work in school. If you want straight A’s, that is achievable, it will just take a lot of hard work! What will straight A’s get you, you ask? Well, it will open application doors to colleges other recruits might not be able to gain acceptance to on their academic record and it will make you more attractive to admission boards and college coaches. While a college coach may start with a list of a few hundred recruits each year, I can guarantee you that list becomes pretty short when grades and test scores start arriving on the coach’s desk. Grades alone might wipe out half of their potential recruits.

What else can you control? Well, you can control how hard you work on the field or in the gym. Some high school athletes are just naturally good at sports; others have to work harder. The harder you work, the more you will improve. If you are weak in a particular area, work on your weaknesses!

What else can you control? How about how far you extend your recruiting reach. If you are simply playing high school ball for 2 months and not getting out on the road in different tournaments or camps against higher level competition, you are reducing your exposure. Very few college coaches have the time, resources or desires to recruit athletes at high school games in this day and age. Their season takes place when your season does and much of their recruiting efforts take place in the summer when they are free to recruit.

What else can you control? How about how many schools you research! We spoke earlier about how many high school athletes wait to be recruited, but it’s the families that kick the most tires that create more recruiting opportunities. If you live in New England, there are probably a 100 colleges within 200 miles of your house in ANY direction. There is no excuse for not getting out on the road and touring different colleges or spending more time online researching different colleges. If you live in a place where there are fewer schools, you are going to have to find a way to research more colleges.

The ultimate control you have is how you package this all together. College coaches want to recruit smart, talented, hardworking and dedicated athletes who express a desire to attend their college or university. It is as simple as that. They start with academics. If you cannot get in, they will not recruit you. Then they move onto athletic skill and they ask themselves if this recruit can play and succeed at their program. Then they move onto personal character, meaning is this recruit a good person? Then they move onto desire, meaning, does this recruit have a real interest in being a college athlete and attending my institution? And somewhere in that process they might ask themselves if this recruit can afford to attend their institution?

Ok, let’s tie all this together. If you are a successful academic student who is a good person and a successful athlete who works hard on the field and you research colleges that will be a good fit for your skills and you connect with coaches personally to express your desire to attend their institution, you can increase your ability to CHOOSE what school and program you attend. The best blue chip athletes in the country are choosing the schools they attend because their skills are so high and every coach wants them. You have that same ability, but you cannot apply to the same schools they are applying to or take the same approach! You have to find colleges where your “skills” might exceed what the college coach typically looks for in a recruit. When you package that with a strong academic record and the desire to succeed on the field, in the classroom and in life, you will have the ability to choose what college you attend and what athletic program you play for! - College Athletic Recruiting Process

Perception vs. Being Realistic in the Athletic Recruiting Process

How Common misconceptions hurt families in the athletic recruiting process

Success or failure in the athletic recruiting process often is determined by a family’s beliefs about how they think the process works. Some believe good high school athletes will be found or discovered because that’s what college coaches do. Others think their high school coach will handle the recruiting process for their son or daughter. A few are also chasing athletic scholarship money that might not ever appear because of the sport you play and the level have the ability to play at. Learn some of the common myths and realities below.


I need athletic scholarship money so I should target D1 or D2 schools, because D3 schools do not offer athletic aid

There are two fully funded sports at the NCAA D1 level. Those would be D1 football and D1 basketball (for men and women) What’s that mean? It means if you are lucky enough to be offered an athletic scholarship in those sports, it will be for the full amount. There are no partial scholarships. No other sport at the NCAA level guarantees you will receive a full scholarship. Are there other NCAA sports that will potentially offer me a full scholarship? Yes, there are but it is more rare for two reasons. 1 – Virtually every other sport at the college level does not generate enough revenue to justify being fully funded. 2 – Most teams require more players on the roster than there are athletic scholarships available. For instance, NCAA D1 baseball is allowed 11.78 athletic scholarships, but most rosters are comprised of 30 players, so the coach (if they are lucky enough to be fully funded) will divide those scholarships up to more players.

So how does D3 fit into this equation if they cannot offer any athletic scholarships? Well, many D3 colleges offer very attractive financial aid packages for amazing students through grants and merit aid packages. What’s great about this money is, it is not tied to your athletic participation, happiness or success. If you accept a D1 athletic scholarship of any kind, your aid package is tied to your participation in your sport. If you accept academic grant money and also play lacrosse at a D3 school, but want to quit playing lacrosse after a year or two, you will still retain your academic money provided you meet the grade requirements of the academic money (assuming there are some.)


The major I choose is very important

Part of the benefits of college is living on your own for 4 years with new people and learning how to learn and learning how to do work on your own, or in a group and how to meet deadlines you might not want to meet. It’s a good primer for when you enter the working world and have to work both as an individual and as a team member in a company. That’s why employers like to hire college athletes. If you want to be a nurse, we would suggest attending a school with a nursing program and majoring in nursing. If you want to be an engineer, we would suggest attending a school with engineering and majoring in engineering because we want that building you design to stand up for a while. But some jobs and some majors can cross over and employers aren’t simply looking for employees that “majored” in something but employees that have various skills, drive and determination. Speaking and writing is extremely important and many successful business people were English majors. Business degrees where you study marketing, finance, or accounting can lead to jobs in thousands of additional areas. All Ivy League colleges are liberal arts degrees, but those students go on to careers in many different fields because they are smart, fast learners and highly motivated students who have been that way for years.


I don’t want to go to a small school because my high school was small and I didn’t like it

Two things that make your high school seem small is that it probably is small, a few buildings or one big building. But the bigger factor is that you know many or most of the students because you have lived in the same town and gone to school with them for 10+ years. Many high school students want to escape that small college feel after high school because of certain experiences they have had in high school. Any college you attend will be a fresh start. You probably won’t know a single person when you arrive and that’s a good thing. A small college with 2,000 students will have a campus much larger than your high school with students living in different areas or off-campus, so it will not be remotely like high school. You may also arrive at a school with 30,000 students and feel overwhelmed with its size.

Being realistic in the athletic recruiting process

Being realistic in the athletic recruiting process

The best players play at D1 colleges

We try to tell families never to judge a college athletic program by what division it is and to research every school and team on an individual basis. Past success, location or the uniqueness of a certain school can greatly affect the talent of individual athletic teams. Teams like the Wheaton (Illinois) swimming teams attract top talent from all over the country due to their unbelievable success at winning national championships. Teams like the Methodist University (North Carolina) golf teams attract top golfers from around the country because they are one a select few colleges that offer a PGM major, which is a major in professional golf management (think business major but for the golf industry). There golf teams have also won multiple national championships. College baseball teams in the State of Florida have extremely talented baseball teams because the State products a high number of high school players who play all year round and have little incentive to leave the State of Florida to play college baseball because the schools are less expensive and the level of play is high.  Hockey rules the northeast and many D3 teams have unbelievably talented players who didn’t play D1 for simply a lack of roster spots available.


I won’t qualify for a lot of financial aid

We could write for days on the financial aid process and we would be no closer to answering this question. There are many factors that go into how much aid a person gets and what one family might get is not necessarily what another family might get. We try to tell all families to never dismiss a college because of finances until you have gone through the aid process, either federally or institutionally or both. There are many factors that go into aid awards such as income, marital status, how many kids in the family, retirement savings, your house value and so forth. The federal government will also look at things differently than individual colleges will when determining institutional aid packages.

While there are colleges turning away students, there are other dying for students and/or college off the beaten path that are trying to attract students from farther away in the country. If you live in New England, you might find a small D3 college a 1,000 miles away looking to bring in more students from your region and might offer you Merit aid. Why? Because colleges are businesses that constantly need new business each year, and if they expand their reach of students, they expand their brand and can/will attract more students from around the country.


My athletic skill will get me recruited even if my grades are low

Depends how low! College coaches are allowed to submit lists of players they are actively recruiting to admissions for consideration and how much impact this has is different at every school. In order to be on this “secret list” you need to be actively recruited by the coach and you have had to tell them that you are committed to their program. Then it’s up to the school to decide how many recruits they want to bend their admissions criteria for. If you are on the bubble academically of what that school looks for, this might help you squeak in. However, bad grades will get you un-recruited faster than anything you can think of. While Big State U might be able to slide a great football player in the back door of admissions, that’s not how most colleges operate. The first thing a college coach is going to inquire about is your grades and if they sniff a problem, they are going to pass extremely fast on you.


College coaches will find me if I am a talented athlete

College coaches work extremely hard at recruiting. Some recruit locally, others recruit in their State, and others recruit across the country or world depending on their needs and resources. Some recruit specific areas of the country because there is good talent there and/or they have created relationships in those areas with other programs and coaches. College coaches rarely attend high school games to scout random players. Not only is it not a good use of their time, but their season takes place during your season! Think about that for second. How is a coach supposed to come to your high school games when they are in the middle of their season? If a coach attends a high school game, it is usually on an off day to see a specific player they have or are currently scouting. Your job is to research colleges that might be a good academic and athletic fit and then to reach out to those college coaches to introduce yourself and to discover the needs of the coaching staff and how you might be considered for recruitment down the road. Most athletes are not discovered, they are recruited through hard work and contacting multiple coaches on their own.


College coaches need my stats to recruit me

College coaches could really care less about statistics. They tell coaches very little about you as an athlete or as a person. There are roughly 20,000 high schools in the country, and thus 20,000 leading scorers or leading hitters on every team. Not all those leading scorers or leading hitters are capable of playing in college, despite leading their team in some statistical category. I like to tell the story of Dave Winfield, the former pro baseball player.  Winfield was drafted in pro baseball, pro basketball and pro football. He was an extremely talented baseball and basketball player in college, but Winfield didn’t score a single touchdown in football. He didn’t have single tackle or sack. He didn’t have a single interception or fumble recovery. He didn’t kick a single field goal or extra point. He never blocked a single person on a football field. Not only did Dave Winfield never play a down of college football in college, he never stepped foot on a college football team or put a uniform on. So how does a player get drafted for football that doesn’t have a single “football stat” and never played? Easy, he was 6’7” 250 and excelled at two other sports and pro football teams saw his athletic ability as his biggest asset. While parents are assembling 5 pages of stats to send to college coaches, those coaches are looking for talented athletes who play the game well with good instincts and techniques. Not every coach is looking for a pitcher that throws 92, but they want to see if you can get players out with what you do throw. They want to know how you handle winning, how you handle losing, how you handle adversity, how you prepare for games before the game, how you interact with teammates, coaches opposing players and umpires. Virtually none of that can come from statistics.


I cannot control what college coaches recruit me

There are some things you cannot control the athletic recruiting process, namely who a college coach chooses to recruit or not recruit. However, you can stack the deck in your favor and improve your odds. First and foremost, college coaches want to recruit high school athletes that can get accepted to their college or university. If your grades and test scores are poor, it will not really matter who good your jump shot or fastball is, if you cannot get in, your recruiting process will not get off the ground. College coaches also like to recruit players of high work ethic and character. If they sense you will be a problem for four years, then they may pass on you. College coaches like to recruit good athletes. Some players are good at just their sport, but some coaches are looking for more well-rounded athletes that not only can run fast, or jump high but have great technique and intelligence for the game and are great all-around athletes. Now, let’s take those 3 elements (good grades, great work ethic and character, and great athlete), and see how those affect the recruiting process. If you are applying or looking at colleges where your grades and test scores are on the bubble for acceptance and your athletic skill is average for what that coach and program might look for in a recruit, then you are going to find that you have less ability to choose what college you attend. You have no leverage and the coach may have a list of 100 other recruits just like you. If, however, you have amazing grades and test scores, and are a hard working talented athlete who seeks out programs where your skills are above what that college coach might look for in a recruit, you will find that you can have multiple college programs that wish to recruit you. Ultimately, if you target the right schools and enough schools, you can have the ability to choose.


I can get recruited off of a good showcase performance

It’s possible, but coaches need to see more. Many a player dream of dinging a few home runs at a showcase while college coaches drool over your swing and in reality, that’s not often how it works. While a showcase performance can get the ball rolling in your recruiting process and get you on a coaches’ radar, most coaches need to see much more out of you before they potentially invest in 4 years of you as a player on their team. They need to see you play in meaningful games in some capacity! What is a meaningful game? It’s a game where there is something on the line for you. They want to see how you handle winning and losing, how you handle pressure, how you interact with your coaches and teammates, how you interact with your opponents or referee’s/umpires, how you handle making a great play or a bad play, or how you react to a teammate doing the same. These are things that can rarely be learned with a few shots or a few swings at a showcase so most coaches use them to decide whether or not they want/need to see more of you.

What Do I Have Control of in the Athletic Recruiting Process?

How other high school athletes affect your college athletic recruiting process

How to stand out in the college athletic recruiting process

There is another you out there. A lot of them!

You’ve worked hard in your sport for several years. You’ve taken private lessons and attended camps. You’ve played on an elite club/AAU team that’s traveled your region or country exposing you to other good players where you have held your own. You’ve spent time in the gym lifting weights and running to get stronger and faster, maybe even with a personal trainer. You’ve worked hard in school and have the grades and SAT scores to garner acceptance to many different colleges. Your parents have sacrificed their time and money developing your athletic career in the hopes you get a shot to play at the next level. You have a bunch of trophies on your dresser and articles in your local paper.

You’ve done everything right so far. Now it’s time to try and get recruited. There is one big obstacle in your way. There is another you out there. There is another 6-foot-tall athlete that weighs 180 pounds and runs a 4.3 forty. There is another pitcher that throws 89 with a good curve. There is another goalie with a .98 goals against average. There is another golfer with a 3 handicap. There is another tennis player undefeated in match play in high school. There is another lineman who weighs 297 pounds. There is another 6’5” receiver who jumps out of the building. There is another swimmer who swims a sub 22 second 50 freestyle. There is another athlete that runs the mile in 4:30

That other you has also worked hard on the field and in the classroom. That other you also wants to play college athletics. That other you might want a scholarship or partial scholarship. That other you might even want to attend the same school(s) you want to attend.

This is what makes the college athletic recruiting process so challenging. There are thousands of other high school athletes vying for a place on a college roster. There may be high school athletes 3,000 miles away from you who are applying to schools 20 minutes from your house because those schools offer something they want! You think the college coach won’t find them.

So how do you differentiate yourself? How do you beat out that other YOU for a spot on a college roster?

The key is to focus on things within your control.

Are You Working as Hard as You Can on Your Grades and Test Scores?

Control how hard you work in the classroom. Admissions is no secret, the better your grades and test scores are, the more likely you will gain acceptance to more colleges. The first question college coaches will usually ask you is “so how are your grades and test scores?” If you can’t get in, your recruiting process is over. While there are recruits a coach might want to recruit, many of them simply will not be able to gain acceptance to many of the schools they might want to attend because of grades.

College Athletic Recruiting Process

Control your college athletic recruiting process

Are You Working as Hard as You Can on the Field?

Control how hard you work on the field or on the court or ice, pick a surface! While we aren’t all as tall, fast, strong, or big as we might want to be, we can improve our skill in a given sport through hard work, practice and dedication. We can get a little better, a little faster and quicker, a little stronger, and a little smarter.

Are You Targeting the Right Colleges?

Control what colleges you choose to pursue recruiting opportunities at. The most successful families are those that have extremely strong academic records and strong athletic skills and combine those skills by targeting the right colleges. What are the right colleges? They are colleges where your academic record and athletic skills match or exceed what the college coach at that school looks for in a recruit. There are a 1,000+ colleges to play athletics at. If you target well-known programs that have thousands of applicants and hundreds of recruits trying to get in and play there, you probably won’t stand out. No amount of recruiting effort will get you recruited at colleges where you cannot gain acceptance or do not possess the skills to play at athletically. You can send all the highlight tapes and emails you want, but it won’t matter. If you don’t have good grades and test scores, you aren’t getting into Harvard. If you aren’t one of the elite basketball players in the country, you aren’t getting recruited by Kentucky!

Are You Working Hard to be at Different Games, Tournaments and Events?

Control how you conduct your recruiting efforts. College coaches need to see you play and they usually need to see you play in person in some capacity in a meaningful game. Playing high school games is usually not enough to get it done. You need to take your academic record, and your athletic skill and then find events where you can display your skills to the colleges that you choose to target and those that are a good fit for your abilities! The other you that lives 3,000 miles away might have the qualifications to play at a college down the street from you, but if they cannot find a way to play in front of that coach in some capacity, the coach is probably going to go with a recruit they have seen play in meaningful competition. If you want to play 3,000 miles from home, you too will need to find a way to display your skills to those coaches.

Are You Being Proactive?

But to really separate yourself, control how you engage college coaches. When all things are equal (no two recruits are ever really equal), meaning a coach is evaluating many players of similar skill level and academic qualifications, what often wins out is a player’s ability to articulate their maturity and desire to play for a given coach and program. Coaches love to recruit talented athletes, but they really want to recruit athletes that want to be a part of THEIR program and athletes that can play at THEIR program and students who can get into THEIR school. College coaches get tons of emails and online recruit forms from high school athletes, and they try to pick through it as best they can. They get lots of emails from recruiting services (that are quickly deleted.) You want to make some headway in the recruiting process, do all the steps above, identify 20 schools you potentially match up with and pick up the phone and call some college coaches to express your interest in their school and program. Ask them what their needs are and how you can go about being evaluated and considered for recruitment!

Some people will tell you that in the recruiting process, you don’t get to choose who recruits you, only the college coaches choose. You are as much a part of the process as the college coach is. If you are smarter and more talented than other recruits and reach out to the right programs and the right college coaches, you will find that you have multiple offers and multiple college coaches competing for your services. You will find that you have the ability to CHOOSE! You can out-recruit the other you!


Your Coaches Role in the College Athletic Recruiting Process

How your high school or summer athletic coach can assist your athletic recruiting process

Should my high school coach handle my athletic recruiting process?

Recently I read a recruiting article that says the greatest catalyst in getting your son or daughter recruited is their coach! But the author didn’t say WHAT COACH. I believe the greatest catalyst in getting your son or daughter recruited is you and your son or daughter, but let’s stick with the coach for now…

Your high school coach and/or summer coach is one tool in the recruiting process. How that tool functions in your recruiting efforts depends on many factors. A common myth in recruiting is that high school coaches should be responsible for getting you recruited to play college ball. For 12 years I have heard the common line, “our coach doesn’t help players get recruited!”

Don’t rely on any of your coaches to handle your athletic recruiting process

One of the challenges of simply relying on your high school coach is that many high school coaches have varying degrees of coaching knowledge and knowledge of recruiting. My high school baseball coach was a hockey player in college and somehow got a baseball coaching job. He had no network of college coaches and wasn’t a particularly good teacher of the game of baseball. My only recruiting interaction with him was when he said “you better start hitting a lot!” when I mentioned a particular college I was interested in. My high school golf coach had a golf handicap of infinity. His job was to drive the bus. When it came time for recruiting, he wrote me a glowing recommendation that discussed my golf success, work ethic, and character! But he really didn’t have any knowledge of how my skills would translate to different colleges nor did he know the skills of different college golf teams. But I understood all that, which in itself is important!

High school coaches are also often teachers who have papers and tests to grade when they go home and lesson plans to, well, plan! They are often also mothers and fathers who have families to take care of, so it is hard for them to get involved in the recruiting process as much as parents think they should. College coaches will most often turn to high school football coaches for advice as football is a very technical sport to coach and those coaches usually have a higher degree of skill. Since there really isn’t a summer AAU football circuit, it’s usually the only coach to turn to. This is not an example of every high school coach. Some have been coaching for (pick a number) years and have more knowledge of the game they coach as well as knowledge of how to help you get recruited. But it’s up to you to determine if that is the case.

What role will your coach play in the athletic recruiting process

What role will your coach play in the athletic recruiting process

Are college athletic coaches getting input from Club or AAU coaches?

The recruiting trend in the last several years has been to simply bypass the high school coach and to seek out travel and AAU coaches for advice on players. College coaches build relationships with high school and summer coaches as their career progresses. They talk to coaches and recruit players, and if those players work out, they will recruit more players from a particular school.
If a high school coach tells a college coach that a player he/she has is the best thing since sliced bread and that player is recruited and doesn’t work out, that high school coach has lost their credibility for future recruits. A random high school coach calling a college coach isn’t much different than a random player calling.

We met one player years ago who got an apology from his high school coach 10 years after that player graduated college. The high school coach told the player that bigger schools had inquired about this player, but the coach was reluctant to recommend him because he didn’t want the player to fail and ruin his reputation as a talent evaluator and hurt future recruits. The player went on to play 1AA football, but possibly could have played 1A football had his coach been more honest!

My summer coach was in his college baseball hall of fame, was drafted to play baseball professionally, had coached youth ball for 15 years, and had a network of college coaches he had developed relationships with over the years. When he called a college coach, they listened because he had the resume to back up what he was saying and he had the ability to evaluate where his players might fit into different colleges. The college coaches didn’t have to worry about him being right, because he was right, he was honest and they trusted his opinion! This scenario doesn’t exist for every coach so you really need to evaluate the evaluator when deciding to lean on your coach for recruiting success. At the least, your high school coach should speak to your character and work ethic, but it may be more difficult for them to evaluate your talents as it applies to different colleges because they may have little or no knowledge of different colleges. The recruiting process is your responsibility and what colleges you pursue and attend is your decision. You need to do the research and contact and you can seek guidance from your coach if they can provide guidance. But you shouldn’t expect or request that they research 50 schools for you and make your recruiting calls. it is quite possible you have a coach that can greatly assist in your recruiting efforts, but determining what role he/she will play and how helpful they can be is one of the steps of the recruiting process.

What are the Odds for an Athletic Scholarship?

How does the number of high school athlete affect my chances of receiving an athletic scholarship?

How does the number of high school athlete affect my ability to get recruited?

What percentage of high school athletes will play at the college level?

Some recruiting services pitch exposure as the ultimate recruiting tool and the number one reason that you won’t be recruited, using the theory that if college coaches do not know you, they cannot recruit you.

While exposure is important, it’s exposure at the right level coupled with what a coach needs for their team and what a coach looks for in a player. No amount of exposure will help you get recruited by any college coach in any sport if you lack the size or skill to play for that particular coach and/or team.

According to the National Federation of High Schools, the greatest participation by high school athletes is in high school football, with 1,023,142 boys participating at the high school level? What does this mean for your recruiting efforts? Well, nothing really!

A recent recruiting services pitch we came across was as follows…. “There are 6.9 million high school athletes, how will you stand out?” – “There are 254,000 seniors who play high school football. There are only 5,042 athletic scholarships awarded at the D1 level. Your odds are 1-50 that you get a scholarship.”

Let’s look at these figures a little more closely…

The “6.9 million high school athletes” participation figure has nothing to do with YOUR recruiting process mainly because over 6 million of those kids are underclassmen and don’t play your sport and quite frankly, it’s a meaningless number. If you want to know how meaningless it is, consider this – Nationally, out of 100 9th graders, 68 will graduate from high school, 40 will enter college directly, 27 are still enrolled in college in their second year, and 18 will graduate from college. – US Dept. of Education – So right away that 6.9 million number has been shrunk greatly because not all of those kids will even make it out of high school, which will probably make it difficult for them to be college athletes.

Now let’s look at the second statement in more detail about high school football participation.

There are several problems with looking at the football participation number. First off, not every high school athlete who plays football in high school is interested in playing in college, just as not every person who goes to high school goes to college. Some students play sports in high school just to play sports and have no desire to continue after high school. My high school baseball team senior year had 6 seniors. Only myself and one other player attempted (and succeeded) to continue our baseball career at the college level. So the number of players I was competing against on my team dropped 66 percent because 4 of them didn’t try to get recruited.

I despise graphic the NCAA puts out because in no way does it factor in the number of players in each sport who were even interested in playing in college or who have the actual skills needed to play in college. This is not a probability chart in any way. If you have the skills to play in college and apply some effort to your recruiting process, your probability of playing in college is 100% If you do not have the skills and athletic ability to play at the college level, your probability is zero percent!

What are the odds of receiving an athletic scholarship

What are the odds of receiving an athletic scholarship

Now let’s look at the second figure about 5,042 athletic scholarships each year at the D1 level for football.

D1 football team are required to offer 85 athletic scholarships (and no more per team) and there are roughly 130 football teams at the 1A level and you can divide 85 by 4 because each coach has about 21.25 scholarships per year. In reality, Division 1 football coaches can sign 28 recruits under the NLI program but can only have 25 players receive a scholarship in the new year, but for use of this example I will stick with 21.25 because they cannot have more than 85 players on the team under full scholarship.

At the D1 level, there are roughly 2,762 athletic football scholarships available each year. (21.25 scholarships x 130 schools) give or take a few scholarships as no coach can recruit .25 players.

There are about 116 1-AA football teams. These teams are allowed to offer 63 athletic scholarships per team. 63 athletic scholarships divided by 4 years equals about 16 scholarships a year. 16 scholarships a year times 116 teams equals 1,856 athletic scholarships available per year. But wait, each football team in the Ivy League competes at the 1AA level, but they do not offer athletic scholarships. Now we have to deduct about 150 scholarships to maybe 1,706 at the 1AA level. It’s also unlikely that every 1AA team offers 63 scholarships but for the sake of argument, we will say they do.

Now, let’s say there are roughly 4,468 football scholarships (2,762+1,706) awarded at the Division 1 level and Division 1AA level each year, and that’s assuming every 1AA team offers the maximum of 63 athletic scholarships (highly unlikely).

Now to the important stuff!

Not every high school football player is going to play D1, wants to play D1, or can play D1. How can someone say that you are competing for a scholarship at the D1 level against a 150 pound backup receiver at pick a name high school who would be lucky to play at a low level D3 program if anywhere?

Let’s say 50% of all high school (senior) football players want to play in college (which I think is a very generous estimate), the total number drops to 127,000 senior football players. Now there are 130 1A teams, 116 1AA teams, 151 D2 teams and 229 D3 teams. That’s 626 teams. If each team had 50 players, there are enough spots for 30,750 high school football players to play in college. Some college programs carry over 100 players even 120 and sometimes might only have 40, it all depends on the program, but 50 per team I think is a fairly generous estimate on my part.

Let’s now say that out of those 127,000 kids who want to play football in college, only 20% have the skill, the size, the speed, and desire to play at the highest D1 level. Now the number is 25,400 players. A far cry from the 1-50 odds of getting a D1 scholarship and more like 1 in 6. (25,000+ players for roughly 4,000+ spots). This doesn’t factor in the fact that many of these players might be basketball or baseball players who have no interest of playing football in college, but are still playing football in high school and get counted in the pool of 1 million plus players. And this will go for many sports, as there is so much overlap at the high school level. If a football player is really a baseball player trying to get recruited for baseball only, you aren’t competing against that player for a college football roster spot, because they aren’t interested in football at the college level. But they are getting counted twice in the above graphic which throws the numbers off even more.

It has nothing to do with numbers of high school players and all to do with how many players want to continue at the D1 level and have the skills to continue at the D1 level.

If you don’t have the size, speed and skill to play at the D1 level, you have NO odds (It would be like trying to win the lottery without actually purchasing a ticket!), but if you do have the size, speed, skill and desire to play D1 football, the odds of you receiving an athletic scholarship are better than people might lead you to believe. In reality, you are not competing against 254,000 other high school football players, you are competing against a few thousand kids who possess the size, skill and speed to play at that level. Again, while exposure is important, it’s exposure at the right level that will help you get recruited. No amount of exposure will make up for a lack of size, speed and skill, especially at the D1 football level (or any level for that matter).

These same arguments apply to any sport, regardless of exposure. In order to receive an athletic scholarship, three things have to happen. One, you have to find a program that has available scholarships to offer. Two – you have to find a program that has a pressing need that the coach is trying to fill, meaning if you are a catcher or a goalie and the coach has 3 catchers or 3 goalies already, they might not be recruiting for your position despite your success or skills. And three, you have to be extremely talented and you have to contact the coach and find a way to display your skills to that coach. While there are hundreds of thousands of high school athletes, there are not hundreds of thousands of high school athletes that have the skills to compete at the high D1 level or the skills to be awarded an athletic scholarship.