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Football Recruiting Guidelines: How Do You Compare to the Average College Football Player Size

Have you ever wondered how big and tall the average college football player is? Have you considered where you stack up next to a Division 1 linebacker or quarterback? To find out the measurements for the average college football player by division, we went to the source: college football rosters. We pulled data from all NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA football teams’ rosters for the past five years. Then, we averaged all the heights and weights for each position at all division levels.

But coaches aren’t just recruiting athletes based on their size—they also have a list of skills those recruits need to have based on their position. Our former college football coaches at NCSA came together to add the specific skill sets that college coaches are looking for in recruits based on their position and desired division level.

How to use the football recruiting guidelines

To get an idea of what it takes to be a college football player, athletes need to consider both the average size of a college football player, as well as the desired skill sets for their position. Here’s why each of these are important to include:

  • Height and weight: These are the average sizes of current college football players—they don’t represent how big athletes were when they first entered college. In other words, recruits don’t necessarily need to be this size right now, but they do need to have the frame to put on more weight and fill out enough to be competitive at the college level. It’s also worth calling out that these heights and weights might be a little exaggerated, as schools will often list players bigger on the roster than they actually are.
  • Awards and varsity experience: These are going to be very dependent on the size of the recruit’s school and the competitiveness of their conference. Recruits at a small school need to have all the accomplishments listed out below—and sometimes more—to get interest from college coaches. Whereas, athletes at larger powerhouse schools might not need to be a multi-year varsity starter to get some looks. Families who aren’t sure where their school lands on this spectrum should reach out to their current high school coach for more perspective.

These guidelines aren’t going to answer every question on how good you need to be, but they are meant to be used as just that: guidelines. Families should use them to get a better understanding of what division levels an athlete is best suited for.

Insider tip: College coaches are always interested in seeing a recruit’s third-party verified height and weight. This shows the coach that an impartial measurer accurately captured these numbers, versus the recruit inventing them or taking them on imperfect equipment. The easiest way to get verified numbers is to go to a football combine, like the free Rivals adizero Combines hosted in various cities across the country.

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Quarterback football recruiting guidelines

NCAA Division 1—FBS

  • Average college football player size at QB: 6’2” / 207 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-State level
  • Must be able to throw the deep out, comeback, dig and seam router with no loft, as well as throw the ball through the goalpost from the opposite 40-yard line. Recruit should be proficient in throwing receivers open and executing the back-shoulder throw.

NCAA Division 1—FCS

  • Average college football player size at QB: 6’1” / 199 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • Must be able to throw the deep out, comeback, dig and seam router with minimal loft, as well as throw the ball through the goalpost from the opposite 45-yard line. The recruit should have proficient ability to throw receivers open and execute the back- shoulder throw.

NCAA Division 2

  • Average college football player size at QB: 6’1” / 198 lbs
  • Should be at least a two-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • Must be able to throw the deep out, comeback, dig and seam router with minimal loft, as well as throw the ball through the goalpost from the opposite 50-yard line. Recruits should have proficient ability to throw receivers open and execute the back-shoulder throw.

NCAA Division 3 and NAIA

  • Average college football player size for D3 QBs: 6’0” / 198 lbs
  • Average college football player size for NAIA QBs: 6’1” / 195 lbs
  • At least one-year varsity starter, preferred two-year varsity starter
  • Must be able to throw the deep out, comeback, dig and seam router with some loft, as well as throw the ball through the goalpost from near the 45-yard line. Recruits should have proficient ability to throw receivers open and execute the back-shoulder throw.
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Running back football recruiting guidelines

NCAA Division 1—FBS

  • Average college football player size at RB: 5’10” / 202 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at an All-State level
  • Recruit should run with power, speed and balance and be able to pull away from defenders. He must have exceptional lower and upper body strength. Must be able to catch the ball well out of the backfield and provide pass protection.

NCAA Division 1—FCS

  • Average college football player size and RB: 5’9” / 196 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at an All-State level
  • Recruit should be a tough and fast runner with the ability to break multiple tackles and outrun defenders. He must have the quickness to elude defenders and run downhill quickly.

NCAA Division 2

  • Average college football player size at RB: 5’9” / 190 lbs
  • Should be at least a two-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • Recruit should be a durable runner with power and speed. He must have good acceleration, balance and effort, showing quickness and instincts. 

NCAA Division 3 and NAIA

  • Average college football player size for D3 RBs: 5’9” / 190 lbs
  • Average college football player size for NAIA RBs: 5’9” / 191 lbs
  • Should be at least a one-year varsity starter, preferably two-year
  • Recruit must be a tough and instinctive runner with adequate speed. He should be able to block and catch from the backfield.
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Tight end football recruiting guidelines

NCAA Division 1—FBS

  • Average college football player size for TEs: 6’4” / 241 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-State level and, in some cases, the All-American level
  • Recruits must have a great combination of size and speed and be able to change the LOS at the point of attack. He should have soft hands and be able to stretch the field vertically. D1 FBS TEs should demonstrate explosive physicality; they can find the open window in zone and separate from man coverage. He shows the ability to break tackles and gain yards after contact.

NCAA Division 1—FCS

  • Average college football player size for TEs: 6’3” / 228 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit should have a combination of size and speed and must change the LOS at the point of attack. He needs to have soft hands and be able to stretch the field vertically. He can find the open window in zone and separate from man coverage.

NCAA Division 2

  • Average college football player size for TEs: 6’2” / 224 lbs
  • Should be at least a two-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • Recruit should have a combination of size and speed and must change the LOS at the point of attack. He needs soft hands, as well as the ability to stretch the field vertically. He can find the open window in zone or separate from man coverage. He should be a threat lafter the catch.

NCAA Division 3 and NAIA

  • Average college football player size for D3 TEs: 6’2” / 211 lbs
  • Average college football player size for NAIA TEs: 6’2” / 222 lbs
  • At least one-year varsity starter, preferred two-year varsity starter
  • The recruit must have a combination of size and speed and must change the LOS at the point of attack. He needs soft hands and can be one-dimensional as a blocker or receiver. He should be able to stretch the field vertically and can find the open window in zone or separate from man coverage.
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Wide receiver football recruiting guidelines

NCAA Division 1—FBS

  • Average college football player size for WRs: 6’0” / 190 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-State level and, in some cases, the All-American level
  • The recruit must be a constant threat anytime he is on the field. He should have an instant release off the LOS with low pad level and little wasted movement, a burst into the route, one-step cuts, impeccable catching ability and the ability to separate himself from defenders with rare top end speed and elusiveness. He must be able to catch a jump ball as easy as a post, shallow, slant or hitch. He must be comfortable running all routes, possess rare ball skills, have a great combination of size and speed, and a willingness to block.

NCAA Division 1—FCS

  • Average college football player size for WR: 6’0” / 183 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-State and All-Conference level
  • The recruit must have an instant release off the LOS with low pad level, a burst into the route, one-step cuts, outstanding catching ability and the ability to separate himself from defenders with his speed. He must be able to catch a jump ball as easy as a mesh, slant or hitch. He must be comfortable running all routes, possess very good ball skills and a willingness to block.

NCAA Division 2

  • Average college football player size for WR: 6’0” / 181 lbs
  • Should be at least a two-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit must have a quick release off of the LOS, good vision and instincts, good hands and the quickness to make defenders miss. He is typically very athletic and quick. He is willing to block and plays with a high motor.

NCAA Division 3 and NAIA

  • Average college football player size for D3 WRs: 5’11” / 175 lbs
  • Average college football player size for NAIA WRs: 6’0” / 181 lbs
  • At least one-year varsity starter, preferred two-year varsity starter
  • The recruit must be able to release from the line quickly, sell the go route, make precise cuts in/out of breaks, catch the ball on a consistent basis and is typically quicker than he is fast.
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Offensive line football recruiting guidelines

NCAA Division 1—FBS

  • Average college football player size for OL: 6’4” / 297 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-State level
  • The recruit must be the most physically dominant player on the field; he should move the line of scrimmage by 5 yards consistently. He should play with excellent pad level by demonstrating natural knee bend, as well as have a devastating hand punch against pass rush and be able to lock on defenders and control them. He must be athletic enough to stay ahead of the ball carrier in open field and demonstrate the body control to block in space.

NCAA Division 1—FCS

  • Average college football player size for OL: 6’3” / 285 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit must be one of the most physical players on the field; he should move the line of scrimmage by 3 yards consistently. He should play with excellent pad level by demonstrating natural knee bend, as well as have a devastating hand punch against pass rush and be able to lock on defenders and control them. He must be athletic enough to stay ahead of the ball carrier in open field and demonstrate the body control to block in space.

NCAA Division 2

  • Average college football player size for OL: 6’2” / 282 lbs
  • Should be at least a two-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit must be one of the most physical players on the field; he should move the line of scrimmage by 2 yards consistently. He must play with above-average pad level by demonstrating natural knee bend, as well as have a hand punch that slows the pass rush and be able to lock on defenders and control them. He must be athletic enough to pull and get up field.

NCAA Division 3 and NAIA

  • Average college football player size for D3 OL: 6’1” / 270 lbs
  • Average college football player size for NAIA OL: 6’2” / 273 lbs
  • At least one-year varsity starter, preferred two-year varsity starter
  • He must be an active player who enjoys contact and be able to move the line of scrimmage more often than stalemating or losing ground. He must play with above-average pad level by demonstrating natural knee bend, and should have active hands against the pass rush, as well as be able to consistently keep defenders out of the pocket. He must be athletic enough to pull and get up field.
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Defensive line football recruiting guidelines

NCAA Division 1—FBS

  • Average college football player size for DL: 6’3” / 270 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-State level
  • The recruit must be instinctive and productive against both the run and the pass at an All-State level for three or more years. He needs to show the strength and leverage to dominate along the line-of-scrimmage as a run defender. The recruit should be able to win with speed, quickness and power as an edge rusher. This player should clearly stand out as exceptional in his play.

NCAA Division 1—FCS recruiting guidelines

  • Average college football player size for DL: 6’2” / 259 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit must be instinctive and productive against both the run and the pass at an All-Conference level for two or more years. He needs to show the strength and leverage to control the line-of-scrimmage as a run defender. He should be able to win with either speed and quickness or power as an edge rusher. This player should clearly stand out as very good in his play.

NCAA Division 2 recruiting guidelines

  • Average college football player size for DL: 6’2” / 252 lbs
  • Should be at least a two-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit must be instinctive and productive against both the run and the pass at an All-Conference level for one to two years. He needs to show the strength and leverage to control the line-of-scrimmage as a run defender. He should be able to win with either speed and quickness or power as an edge rusher. Must be a consistent player who shows physical and athletic upside to develop.

NCAA Division 3 and NAIA recruiting guidelines

  • Average college football player size for D3 DL: 6’0” / 246 lbs
  • Average college football player size for NAIA DL: 6’1” / 251 lbs
  • At least one-year varsity starter, preferred two-year varsity starter
  • Competes at the All-Conference level for at least one year
  • The recruit must be instinctive and productive against both the run and the pass at an All-Conference level for at least one year. He needs to show strength and leverage as a run defender, and he must go with speed and quickness as an edge rusher. He should have a consistent motor with physical and athletic upside to develop in time.
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Defensive back football recruiting guidelines

NCAA Division 1—FBS

  • Average college football player size for DB: 5’11” / 189 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-State level
  • The recruit should be the best athlete on the field! He can flip hips and get in and out of breaks without false steps. He is physical and aggressive in the run game and against screens. The recruit must be able to know all coverage and have quick feet. He needs to be strong in man coverage and excellent in zone coverage while knowing his responsibilities. He also needs to be the fastest kid on the field and have the range to cover sideline-to-sideline. He must be able to read the offense.

NCAA Division 1—FCS recruiting guidelines

  • Average college football player size for DB: 5’11” / 183 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit must be able to know all coverage and have quick feet. He needs to be strong in man coverage and excellent in zone coverage, knowing his responsibilities. He also needs to be the fastest kid on the field and have the range to cover sideline-to-sideline. He must be able to read the QB and read the offense to understand how to react.

NCAA Division 2 recruiting guidelines

  • Average college football player size for DB: 5’11” / 181 lbs
  • Should be at least a two-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit must be able to know all coverage and have quick feet. He needs to be strong in man coverage and excellent in zone coverage, knowing his responsibilities. He should be one of the fastest kids on the field.

NCAA Division 3 and NAIA recruiting guidelines

  • Average college football player size for D3 DB: 5’10” / 175 lbs
  • Average college football player size for NAIA DB: 5’11” / 181 lbs
  • At least one-year varsity starter, preferred two-year varsity starter
  • The recruit must be able to know all coverage and have quick feet. He should be fairly good in man coverage but very good in zone coverage. He needs to understand responsibility within certain defensive schemes and be a fast athlete.
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Linebacker football recruiting guidelines

NCAA Division 1—FBS

  • Average college football player size for LB: 6’1” / 223 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-State level
  • The recruit must be equally active in both the run game and in coverage. He gains ground and plays downhill with first step; he stays square without losing athleticism. The recruit is strong enough to play on LOS, has explosiveness on contact, and can visibly change the LOS and knock ball carriers back. He displays fluid hips and good knee bend and plays under his pads. The recruit must show skills in both zone and man coverage and can match up with the best athlete on the field. He shows burst and speed with quickness to bend the corner in pressure games. 

NCAA Division 1—FCS

  • Average college football player size for LB: 6’0” / 217 lbs
  • Should be a three-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit must display ability against both the run and the pass. He should consistently gain ground with first step, win at the point of attack and stop ball carriers in their tracks. He can redirect and pursue plays downfield and shows skills in coverage. He can be relied on in man coverage against both RBs and TEs and is disciplined in route recognition. He should also show potential as a special teams player. 

NCAA Division 2 recruiting guidelines

  • Average college football player size for LB: 5’11”
  • Should be at least a two-year varsity starter
  • Multiple years competing at the All-Conference level
  • The recruit must be active against both the pass and the run. He does not give ground on contact with blockers, and he plays flat at LB depth with first step. The recruit controls gaps with good body control and can play in both man and zone coverage.

NCAA Division 3 and NAIA recruiting guidelines

  • Average college football player size for D3 LB: 5’11” / 207 lbs
  • Average college football player size for NAIA LB: 5’11” / 209 lbs
  • At least one-year varsity starter, preferred two-year varsity starter
  • The recruit should be a consistent performer against either the run or the pass. He shows strength and explosiveness on contact. Despite occasional false steps, he consistently gains ground with the first step. He can get off blocks and make plays and show consistent ability to make plays in coverage.
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Average college football player height and weight infographic

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