With a rush of football official visits being able to legally happen during the month of September per NCAA rules, I thought it may now be a great time to talk about the main things you should be looking to get out of this official visit. As an athlete, you should also try to get some of these things out of unofficial visits as well. Here are some of the main ones:
If you are going during the fall months, you need to make sure you get a great feel for the game day atmosphere. This a perfect time to see what it is like from the eyes of the coaches, the players, and the fans. It may be the first time you have been at the stadium or the tenth. Regardless, getting to see the game day atmosphere on an official visit is an in-depth look at the program that you will only get once. Could you see yourself playing at that stadium? Is the crowd supporting the team or complaining when they do something bad? Think about the little things when learning more about the atmosphere on the visit.
If you do not get a chance to talk about academics or academic support on an official visit, I would be very scared. The school and the coaches should present how much they help athletes to succeed. I spoke with a coach who took a prospect to a Big Ten school and saw the academic support, he was shocked how athletes actually flunk out of school. They do so much for you at the Division I level and they should give you more information about academics and possibly what you want to major in. If time is on your side, they may even have a professor from the field you are considering to go into.
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While the coaches may be busy with game preparation, they should allow you the opportunity to watch them and see how they coach. Pay attention to how they treat their players and if the athletes really buy into what they are saying. After the game, especially on Sunday morning, you will get a chance to learn more about the coaches away from the field. Usually the official visitors eat breakfast at the home of the head coach before they leave. This gives the coaches an opportunity to learn more about you as a recruit and see that the are not football 24/7.
Regardless of where you go to school, the college is going to have a nightlife. There is nothing you can do about it. But you should see how the current players on the team are and how they act. Do they all get extremely drunk every Saturday night after the game? That may not be your type of thing but try and figure out how it is at college. The nightlife going from high school to college is a big difference. So try to get a feel for what it would be like at that college.
There should be time for you to get a chance to get tours around the campus. You want to see if it is a big, sprawling campus or smaller. If you are staying north in the US, then a smaller campus may be better for you during the brutal winter months. Think about what type of campus that you would prefer and go from there. It is important to think about this type of thing before making a final decision.