The X’s and O’s of Getting Recruited Into College Football

May 25, 2017

The X’s and O’s of Getting Recruited Into College Football

By: Chris Barany

 If you ask 10 high school football players how to get recruited to play college football, you’ll get 10 different answers – and they might all be wrong. The reason is simple: there is no class that teaches football players or their parents how to maximize their exposure to college football programs and help them get discovered. The good news is that learning how to get recruited is the same as learning football – all it takes is knowing the X’s (what NOT to do) plus the O’s (what to do) and practicing those habits on a consistent basis. With the right actions and the right attitude any player can give themselves the best chance to get into a college program. Here’s some common misconceptions about college football recruiting that you will want to avoid (the X’s):

X #1: High school coaches will help their players get recruited. 

High school coaches have a lot to do throughout the course of a year and that doesn’t include what they have going on in their personal lives! It is important to note that high school coaches do not get paid based on how many of their players get football scholarships or play in college. Sure, they’ll do what they can to help out and make introductions when they can, but they may not be able to do much more than that. Many student athletes and parents of high school student athletes expect their coaches to be more involved, but they are coaches, fathers, businessmen, teachers, etc. not agents.

Avoid this play: don’t expect a high school coach to help a player get into college.

X #2: The time to begin the recruiting process is in junior year, when students start thinking about where to go to college. 

There is no rule against starting the recruiting process earlier. A good time to begin the process can be freshman year of high school depending on your skill level. College coaches are looking to develop relationships with players earlier and earlier in their football careers to get an inside track at recruiting a player when senior year comes around, so they’ll welcome the chance to do so if the right player comes to them. Coaches are competing with each other to find the right player sooner, so a player who takes the initiative early on helps them get discovered and recruited. Now this certainly depends on what level player you are, but the fact still remains that getting your name in front of college coaches is never a bad idea!

Avoid this play: don’t wait until junior year to contact coaches.

X #3: Most players who get into college for football get in because of superior playing ability, not good grades.

The number of high school football players who are actively recruited by Division I schools and go to college on a full football scholarship are a small minority. Most football players in college who get recruited into the Division II and III levels get in based on a combination of good grades and football. This is because Division III schools cannot offer athletic scholarship money; instead, they offer academic scholarships for student-athletes. This means that players with good grades have a much better chance at getting recruited and getting scholarship money at the Division III level.

Avoid this play: don’t blow off schoolwork. Grades help a player get recruited as much as football ability does.

Now here’s some of the best ways to get recruited and play football in college (the O’s):

O #1: Be proactive in contacting college coaches, but make sure you begin before your junior year of high school.

It is best to start contact with college coaches through an email, as 99% of college coaches have their email addresses listed publicly on the college’s or university’s website. Coaches will be more likely to respond to a personalized email that uses their name. An email to a coach should include the player’s contact information, high school, grade, grades (including SAT/ACT test scores if you have them,) a link to you highlight video (if you have one) and your high school coaches email just in case the college coach wants to find more information about you. 

Run this play: email college coaches, be proactive in the process.  The college coaches will tell you if they want you to leave them alone! 

O #2: Follow up and build the relationship with the coach over time. 

Don’t be afraid to send emails and let coaches know what you are up to. That is how you build relationships and put yourself in a position to ultimately get recruited! Coaches are not just going to be looking at what you do on the field, but they will be looking at what you do off the field as well! Now it it important to keep in mind that the kind of interactions that high school players and college coaches can have depend on the time of year and what school the coach is from; there are different rules for Division I, Division II and Division III schools. These rules are from the NCAA and should be followed to give a player the best chance at being recruited successfully.

Run this play: once contact is made with a coach, keep reaching out and keep them informed about what’s going on.

O #3: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Find someone who may have been through the recruiting process and can offer some advice and unbiased opinions. 

No one has all of the answers so don’t be afraid to seek help. Unfortunately, there are a lot of “sharks” out there that will try and take advantage of your situation so be careful who you listen to.  Also keep in mind that everyone’s journey is different and everyone had to overcome different obstacles along the way!  You may want to start with this basic concept: Make a list of schools that YOU are interested in ACADEMICALLY and then athletically. Visit those schools and contact those coaches. Find out what they have to say about you because they are ultimately going to be the guys that recruit you!  It is THEIR opinion that matters and it is best to remember that all recruiting is subjective so not everyone is going to like your abilities so be prepared!

One final thought, it never hurts to attend camps where you can improve your technique and enhance your skill level.  It is your technique and skills that will separate you from your competition!  Also consider camps where college coaches are present, anything else is truly meaningless.

Run this play: ask for help!  be proactive! Work on enhancing your skills, because that is what will separate you from your competition!

Is someone you know ready to get recruited to play in college? 

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