Athletic recruiting is an in-depth process that involves more than 180,000 high school student-athletes and several members of coaching staffs across the country. That figure may seem like a lot, but the percentage of student-athletes who make the transition from being sports recruits in high school to being recruited to being awarded an athletic scholarship is just 2%. As a result, college recruiting is a competitive process on both sides. Not only do sports recruits want to secure a spot on a college roster, but college coaches are also looking to have as strong of rosters as possible for the coming years.
Who are sports recruits? Sports recruits are those who have received interest from college coaching staffs. An offer for an athletic scholarship or a spot on a team does not need to be in the picture for someone to be a sports recruit. However, that possibility will generally be discussed. Note that sports recruits and sports prospects are different. The latter term refers to those who are in high school and eligible to join college teams in the future but who have not received any interest from college recruiters. The final step is that experienced by a sports commit. That person has received and accepted an offer.
Sports recruiters help college coaches know who to scout and who to recruit. How involved they are and how many there are will vary from sport to sport. Those who are engaged in college recruiting will see players play in person as well as spend quite a bit of time watching highlight tapes and determining which ones they should recommend. They will assess a student-athlete’s skill levels, not only physically but also mentally. Part of the latter includes their ability to be a good teammate and whether they’re someone who’s interested in learning from their coaches.
Sports recruits and their athletic goals
Those looking to get the most out of their potential know that being a sports recruit is essential to furthering those athletic goals. The quality of coaching that’s available at the college level is amongst the best in the world. The strength of the competition, not only the opposition week in and week out but also within a team for starting spots, is so important too. The best way to improve is to challenge yourself, and college athletics provides a great way to be challenged.
Sports recruiting events
Sports recruits are able to take part in a wide variety of college recruiting events.
One of the most known type of sports recruiting events are college camps such as Nike lacrosse camps. These provide great opportunities to learn from the types of coaches who they hope to play for. They get to get a feel for what that type of learning environment is like. However, with that said, it’s important to note that there is a distinct difference between learning from a coach at a camp versus while a member of their team. Regardless, sports camps provide opportunities for athletes to network with those recruiters.
The athletic recruiting process can also involve combines. These are focused on athleticism such as how fast someone can run a certain distance or how strong they are. Skills related to their sport such as catching a football or shooting a three-pointer are generally not assessed at these events. Coaches usually don’t attend these but receive information from them such as speed and strength numbers.
Showcases provide sports recruits with the ability to showcase their sport-specific skills. For team sports, players are divvied up into teams that will compete against each other. Coaches are more apt to show up to these events. However, it’s important to communicate with ones who you’re interested in playing for prior to the event. That way they can consider attending an event that they might not have otherwise or will spend some time there focused on you when they might have otherwise focused on others.
What is the NCAA?
Most sports recruits who receive offers end up playing for NCAA institutions. This organization has overseen much of college athletics, including the nation’s best teams, since it was founded more than 100 years ago. Its primary responsibilities are running national championships for each of those sports with the exception of FBS football and providing the rules that institutions need to follow.
Those looking to get recruited by NCAA schools should generally expect three different experiences depending on if the schools are D1, D2 or D3 institutions. D1 schools tend to recruit the nation’s best high school athletes, and some of the academic standards at these schools are high too. For example, all eight Ivy League institutions and other schools such as Stanford, Northwestern and Duke are D1 colleges. Meanwhile, D3 schools are not allowed to award any athletic scholarships. Also, some of the nation’s best schools academically are here as well such as MIT, Caltech, Chicago and Johns Hopkins.
Regardless, since only a fraction of high school student-athletes transition from being sports recruits to playing in college, the competition tends to be intense throughout all levels. This becomes especially apparent when compared to high school. For example, just 3% of basketball recruits on the boys side end up on NCAA rosters while the corresponding figure for girls basketball recruits is 4%.
College recruiting: Star ratings and blue chips
Those who get recruited will often receive star ratings. This is particularly true of basketball and football recruits. Five-star prospects are generally in the country’s top 30 players and are expected to quickly earn All-American honors and play in the NBA or NFL. Those sports recruits who are rated at four stars are judged to be in the top 300 or so of that year’s class. They’re also believed to have more tempered All-American and pro potential. Those at three stars tend to contribute a lot to their teams and have potential to play professionally as well.
A blue chip recruit is someone who is highly sought and tends to experience the sport recruiting process with many of the top schools in that sport. However, it should be pointed out that a blue chip recruit must be proactive in the sport recruiting experience just as much as everybody else. This is because they need to keep pushing until they receive that offer that they’re looking for. Just because someone is widely recruited with seemingly little effort does not guarantee that the right offer will follow. Also, it’s important to do plenty of research to ensure that the best overall fit is found for these sports recruits.
How to be recruited: Communication
When should you look to be recruited and communicate with coaches who intrigue you? Generally, wait until your skills have developed to the point that you’d impress at least some of them. At a minimum, you should be on the varsity squad in high school or with a premier club. Note that you can contact coaches at any time while coaches must follow stringent rules as far as contacting you goes. The most important of these is not being able to reach out to high school athletes until the summer between their sophomore and junior years.
When sports recruits contact coaches, it’s important to include athletic and academic information, your upcoming playing schedule, a highlight video and contact information. The first person who you should contact is the one involved with athletic recruiting for that team. That can be a recruiting coordinator. If this position does not exist, look for a position coach who coaches your position. Lastly, reach out to the head coach. This person will either talk to you directly in your initial interactions or have you speak with someone on their staff.
It’s generally best for the college recruiting process to start with an email, which can be followed by a phone call. Responding to sport recruiting letters is also an essential part of the process.
Recruiting for sports: Academic eligibility
Although coaches can be flexible on what you bring to the table in your athletic ventures, they have no wiggle room when it comes to your academic record. That’s because sports recruits must be approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center in order to compete in NCAA D1 or D2 sports. Maintain that eligibility as you make your way through high school in order to continue being recruited.
How can you get an athletic scholarship? It’s important to take into account that the hurdles that need to overcome during the college athletics recruiting process will be higher than is the case if you’re simply looking a position on a team. This is because the number of athletic scholarships is well below the number of roster spots.
Recruiting process for different sports
You should note that some differences exist between, for example, lacrosse recruiting and football recruiting. For example, those involved with football recruiting and looking to play tight end at an FCS school should be around 6-3 in height and weigh 228 pounds, have started for their varsity team for three years and been named all-conference multiple times. Although the latter recommendations are similar for lacrosse recruits, they don’t tend to have the same size requirements that football recruits do.
Recruiters involved with college wrestling recruiting and college soccer recruiting are also not as apt to be as concerned about the heights of wrestling recruits and soccer recruits. However, college volleyball recruiting is more like college basketball recruiting than it is like college soccer recruiting. That’s because height is such a significant factor in that sport and dramatically affects who’s on the receiving end of the college volleyball recruiting process.
Here are some more examples.
Track recruits should have good starts and, for track recruits running longer distances, cut-in expertise and lane efficiency. Soccer recruits who play forward should have solid one-on-one abilities while soccer recruits looking to be D1 goalkeepers should be able to consistently catch crosses. Heights are important for most volleyball recruits, but not all. It’s not really a concern for volleyball recruits who play libero. D1 baseball recruits who pitch should consistently reach around 84 mph. Baseball recruits who play first base should have a slugging percentage of around .750 with seven or eight homers a year. Softball recruits who pitch and have D1 aspirations should have command of at least four pitches while softball recruits who catch should have thrown out 40% of those attempting to steal.
It’s important to find the best program, school and community for you. You want a place that not only fits you athletically but also academically, socially and financially. You want to be as educated on this process as you can so that you use your time as wisely as possible, both while being recruited and once you arrive on campus. Using a recruiting service can help you do all of that, and NCSA is one of those organizations that regularly guides student-athletes through this process.
NCSA football is where the roots of this company started. That’s because Chris Krause, its founder, was a high school football player in the 1980s who had struggled with how confusing the recruiting process was. That inspired him to found NCSA in 2000. Now, NCSA football provides resources to help high school players find their best fits. However, NCSA football is far from this company’s focus today as it is very well rounded, understanding that football only accounts for a fraction of athletic scholarships awarded every year. As a result, athletes in all sports have endorsed it time and again over the years. If you’d like to learn more about what NCSA has to offer, fill out a free profile. Call 866 495-5172 if you have any questions.