Going into the recruiting process, some parents may think that each and every year, colleges have the same amount of scholarships to offer. While all schools at the Division I level have an equal scholarship amount, it doesn’t mean that these schools have the same scholarships to offer on a yearly basis. For football, Division I-A (BCS) schools have a limited of 85-scholarship offers at one time while Division I-AA (FCS) programs can only extend the financial equivalent to 63 scholarship offers.
What some families don’t realize is that there may have been a change in coaches three years ago so the senior class about to graduate is extremely small. What that means is the school may only have 15 scholarships available and that they will be extremely picky in who they offer. While it may sound like a well concocted line by the college coaches, this is something that realistically happens in all sports.
The reason that this plays such an important role in the recruiting process is that if State University only has fifteen scholarships as opposed to twenty five that they had the previous season, they are going to be a lot stingier with who they offer. And chances are strong that the coaches will have some primary areas to fill, and unless that is your position, it could make things even tougher.
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I saw the low number of scholarships come in play this past recruiting year. An athlete in the Class of 2010 was hearing a lot from the in-state school that was recruiting him. The coaches were telling this recruit to be patient due to the small number of scholarships (which seemed like a line). Eventually because another conference school offered this athlete, the in-state program was almost forced to extend a scholarship (which coincidentally happened the next day). If it had been any other year, a scholarship would have likely been on the the table earlier. Because of the low number of offers, this school wanted to do even more evaluation.
If you are being recruited and this gets brought up, ask the college coaches questions about it. They should know exactly how many scholarships that they have overall in this recruiting class. See what they say regarding how many athletes at your position will be taken and eventually signed.
Let me state that this number can easily change. I know it offends many families when a school says they are only taking one player at your position and they take two, but it happens. Priorities change at a drop of a hat with kids transferring or injuries happening. I would be mad too but things can change so quickly.
If a school is in a current scholarship bind, what they may do is offer a grayshirt to recruits. This grayshirt basically puts the recruit in the next class. If I accepted a grayshirt scholarship this winter as a senior, I would eventually sign and be part of the recruiting Class of 2012. This is something that has been happening more frequently in the last few seasons.
What is tough about a grayshirt offer is it is not binding. Like a verbal commitment, either side could decide to break it at any time. While most schools will not want the bad publicity of not living up to what they told you, anything can happen in recruiting and you must know that going in.
In order to find out more about the scholarship offers left in a class, you can do research yourself. Many Rivals and Scouts sites like the current scholarship situation at major Division I schools. For other programs, it is going to be much harder to figure out. If State University has a Rivals site, try to find the scholarship distribution chart or something along those lines. It will give you a better feel for which athletes are on scholarship. Just because a recruit came in as a walk-on doesn’t mean that is all that is offered at this point.
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