I recently received an email from a mother wanting to know more about the Division I-AA football recruiting process. This parent felt that the site talked to much about the Division I-A football recruiting process so she wanted to learn more about what her son was to expect when looking into schools.
Because of this excellent request, I have decided to put together an article talking about the five biggest differences in the football recruiting at the Division I-A and Division II levels. This shows that if you request it, there is definitely a chance that I will write about it in the future. Onto the big five.
1.) Scholarship and Money
For whatever reason, everyone loves to say that their son, daughter, nephew, neighbor, cousin, or friend is going to college on a full ride. But at the Division I-AA level, that is normally not the case. These schools have a set budget every year and the coaches can use it how they like. These programs normally offer partials to recruits and the numbers end up increasing as they start contributing. There are cases where the coaches will offer a full from day one but they are rare. Coaches at the Division I-A are required to offer all or nothing. If you play at this level, you will either be getting a full scholarship or be a walk-on. There is no options here.
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I don’t want to come off sounding like Division I-AA coaches are lazy because they are not. But the timing of the recruiting process is much different at each level. For Division I-A coaches, they will offer a prospect as early as they feel that they can play at their level. Just ask Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin. I have heard coaches at this level offer a player as early as eighth grade. Division I-AA coaches on the other hand prefer not to offer early simply because they are worried that larger schools might get wind of an early offer. When they hear about it, these Division I-A programs will start sniffing around and doing a better job evaluating a prospect if they are aware that an offer is on the table. The majority of Division I-AA schools do not offer until after an athlete’s senior year of football. There may be a few offers earlier but most wait until visits take place.
There are some fantastic options at the Division I-AA level for schools. No doubt about that. But if you are going to compare Division I-AA facilities to Division I-A facilities, it is going to be an uphill battle. Just go visit Oklahoma State, USC, Texas, Florida, and programs with money. Their facilities are amazing. There are some solid facilities at Division I-AA schools but you certainly cannot compare the two.
Because of budgets, it is harder for Division I-AA schools to visit high schools and makes it tougher for them to bring in athletes on official visits. They have a certain amount of money every single year and they must be careful with how they spend it. Major Division I-A coaches have no worries about budget and money. If they need to visit a recruit the next day, they will take the flight that works out best for them and price will not be a factor. That is just how things go. Don’t expect to receive as many visits from Division I-AA coaches.
Similar to facilities, there are a lot of fantastic Division I-AA programs that have really improved over the last decade. But the fact remains that even lowly Division I-A schools normally have better attendance than the Division I-AA powerhouses. Most Division I-A schools are bigger and that is why. They have a larger school and thus a larger following and alumni base.