What is a “January Recruit” in the eyes of college coaches and are you a “January Recruit”?

What is a "January Recruit" in the eyes of college coachesOne of the more interesting phrases that I found from a comment on the board related to more information regarding a January Decision Recruit.  Basically what this involves is a recruit who is not a top tier recruit but still a prospect would like to land in the recruiting process.  But before they offer a January recruit, they are going to see what happens with their top rated recruits.

I have also called these January Recruits fallback recruits or option B/C in the recruiting process.  College coaches have to keep these January recruits on the hook because you never know what will happen.  It could be a decommitment or an academic casualty but there is no doubt in my mind that every coach uses these just in case.

In some situations, these January Recruits could be full fledge recruits that they are seriously considering offering a scholarship.  In other situations, these recruits may just be backup options who at the very most would be offered a walk-on spot.  I have seen major Division I schools frequently call recruits during the fall and winter then not even offer them a spot to walk-on (I am not trying to worry families, just saying that it does happen).

The reason that the January Recruits occur is pretty simple.  Here is a link to the Rivals100 for the top football players in the Class of 2012.  Let’s say that we are looking at the recruitment of Derrick Woods, a wide receiver from California who is rated as the #95 player in the country.  He has is considering a number of schools and has an official visit already setup for Oklahoma in November.  For the sake of this article, we can say that his top four schools include Oklahoma, Alabama, USC, and Washington.  .

Hypothetically let’s say that USC is only taking one more wide receiver in the Class of 2012.  Obviously the Trojans do well in recruiting and they hope to land Woods.  Because they feel Woods is far and away the best wide receiver left on their board, he is the only player at that position that they have offered a scholarship to.  But there is no doubt that USC has fierce competition from three other solid programs.

There are two things that the Trojans can do if they lose out on Woods.  The first is to bank the scholarship for the Class of 2013 or give it to a best available athlete.  In this situation, landing a wide receiver to add to the depth at that spot is needed in this hypothetical story.  Now Woods is option A.  Your son may be Option B and hoping that he does not decide to join Lane Kiffin in California.

If you could see the recruiting board for USC, they know exactly what their plan will be if they are unable to land Woods.  Yes, they are probably confident that he will attend school there (as are most of the other schools in the race) but they know that they must have backup options in place.  If you are that option B, then you are what is known as a January Recruit.

Woods is going to make his decision in January (that is pure speculation because we are talking about January Recruits, not December Recruits) and that will cause a domino effect for all four schools.  If he lands at Oklahoma, the Sooners may close up the recruiting at wide receiver for the year and be thrilled with landing this four star athlete.

Alabama, USC, and Washington will all have to pick up the pieces and make a decision.  Alabama may have already offered three wide receivers and will take commitments from the first two.  USC may have a wide receiver who is the best athlete on the board that they feel they must bring into this recruiting class.  Every situation is unique that is it very hard to tell what a school like USC would do if you are their B recruit.

You may be the next in line but that is not 100% sure that you will be getting a scholarship offer.  They may end up offering a linebacker that they like better than you and only offering you a walk-on spot.  Crazy things happen during the recruiting process and you must be prepared for changes at all turns.

If you are a January Recruit, what you should do is start looking at smaller schools.  If USC is seriously considering, then broadcast your attention to other PAC-12 and Mountain West schools.  If Mountain West schools are recruiting you, start looking at Division I-AA programs.  And if you are only hearing from Division I-AA programs, look into Division II schools.

You must be prepared for a worst case scenario here because the college coaches will be.  Their strategy likely will remain private until the last minute so when they throw out “we are offering you a walk-on role” or “we are no longer interested in you,” there have to be other options that you can take.  Putting all your eggs in one basket is a mistake and not something you want to deal with if your dream school falls through.

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