You’re a gifted athlete. You’ve always worked hard on the field and in the classroom. But you’re a senior, and National Signing Day is coming up. You’re hearing buzz about other recruits who are getting signed — and you still haven’t signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI). You’re starting to get worried.
Now, if you play a sport whose National Signing Day is in April, there may be nothing to worry about. But if you’re watching other athletes in your sport sign letters and you’re not, it’s understandable how you’d be a little nervous. But you’re not out of the recruiting process yet. Here are six tips on what to do if it looks like you’re not signing a National Letter of Intent in February.
1. Get your bearings
Where are you in the recruiting process? Have you been talking to lots of coaches, writing letters, making phone calls, and taking visits, but just haven’t had any offers come in? Do you have offers, but only from non-NLI schools? Have you not been in contact with coaches at all? Understand where you are in the process, what you have done, and what you still need to do. The athlete who hasn’t started has to think differently than the one who needs to finish off the last 2% of the process.
2. Make sure you have everything in order
Make sure you have all your relevant information handy, including:
- Academic information: grades, test scores, extracurricular activites, etc.
- Highlight tape
- Athletic accomplishments; All-Conference, MVP, years on varsity, etc.
- Vital stats (will vary from sport to sport; a few examples: 40 time, bench press, RBIs, rushing yards, goals/assists, kills/digs, etc)
- Recommendations from coaches
Building an NCSA profile is an easy way to get all this stuff is in one place
3. Know where to look — and be realistic
In a perfect world, everybody would go Division I. But the truth is, it’s not for everyone. No matter how hard he works, the 160-pound, 5’ 6” linebacker is going to have a tough time landing a spot at a Division I program. The good news is there are 1,700 college athletic programs in the U.S., and 80% of those are not Division I. There are lots of excellent opportunities outside of Division I, but it’s crucial to be realistic. If you’re getting lots of letters from Division II schools and nobody else — you may be a good fit for Division II. It’s too late in the process to be unrealistic about where would be a good fit for you. Some Division I and Division II schools don’t use NLIs and may still have spots left. Recruiting for Division III and NAIA is still going on.
4. Reach out to coaches, the more the better
If you haven’t been reaching out to coaches, there is no time to lose. Some athletes think that they can sit back and have offers come to them — that isn’t the case except for a few dozen athletes across the country. Those athletes are already set up to sign NLIs. Start calling, emailing, and hopefully visiting coaches at schools that will be a good fit for you. If a coach has contacted you and you haven’t followed up, do it now. The only way to get recruited is to be in communication with a coach, period.
5. Find your perfect fit, then commit
Everyone is looking for something different in a school. Once you’re found the schools interested in you, pick out the ones that you’d really like to go to. It may take an unofficial visit and some time with the coach or the team to really get a feel. But picking a school is a big decision – make sure you know what you want, and then make it happen. Find out what they’re offering and accept your scholarship. It’s a little harder than it sounds, but thousands of athletes just like you do it every year.
6. Don’t give up
It’s late in the recruiting process. Other athletes are already done. But if you’re serious about playing in college and you haven’t yet been recruited, now is no time to give up. No different than being down when you’re competing in your sport — it’s when you’re down that it’s most important to keep going.
And one extra tip: don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one is an island. Feel free to give NCSA a call if you have any questions or want a free recruiting evaluation: 866.579.6272.