One of the toughest questions in the recruiting process involves when the timing is right to make a final college decision. There are so many different things involved that make the process tough. But of course, I am here to help athletes and parents look at some of the most important aspects of why making a decision now versus two months in the future could be a lot different.
The reason I probably hear the most when talking to athletes about them making their decision before their senior year of high school is so that they can concentrate on enjoying the year and just going out and playing. They also talk about how it will help reduce the phone calls (Which it does), playing your best when college coaches are in attendance, and why they want to focus on winning a State title and not recruiting. This is a very legitimate reason why making a college decision before your senior season of sports is a great thing to do. However, it is not possible for all athletes to do it.
One of the toughest decisions an athlete has to face is those holding just one scholarship offer. What makes it so tough is that these college coaches will start putting the squeeze on you as an athlete and make sure that you know this offer could go another recruit any day now. As a coach, unfortunately, this is something that you really have to do. There is no way around it because it is important to get an athlete in the fold as soon as possible and move on to other recruits. And that is also why having a decommit can hurt a recruiting class so badly.
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As an athlete, holding just one offer is a very tough situation but better than having no firm scholarships on the table. That offer means you probably can play and that other schools are taking a look at you. These other schools will want you to hold off on making a decision because they want to see your senior tape and have you in for visits. This gets extremely stressful because the school that has offered may have extended scholarship offers to five players at your position and they are taking the first two to commit. This happens all of the time. With no back up offers, you get nervous about it and don’t want to lose getting your scholarship paid for.
Here are two quick examples where this has happened. Recently, an All State football player received a Division I offer from a solid football program out of state. This school was ten hours away but has been doing some good things. Schools closer to home had been recruiting him but wanted to see more tape from his senior year. The program that had offered him was not pressuring him but made sure to let him know that other kids had received the offer and they were taking only a few at position. The athlete was thrilled when he ended up committed to them but did it out of fear of losing that offer.
Another athlete, this time a basketball player, didn’t have that fear of losing scholarships so he ended up at a smaller school in the end. By the time his sophomore year was starting, this talented basketball player had an offer from a major Division I basketball program and another mid major school that had been to the NCAA tournament recently. The mid major school was tired of waiting to see if he would commit so they offered a scholarship to his AAU teammate and they were going to take the first commitment. The AAU teammate decides to take that scholarship so he is left with the major Division I offer. After that season, the coach at the Division I school gets fired and the offer is not honored by the next coach. So this talented recruit went from two big time offers to zero. He wound up getting a few smaller scholarships and while his schooling will be paid for, he will not get a chance to play big time college basketball.
Looking back, there is never a perfect time for every athlete as to when to make a college decision. Some have made it in their freshman or even eighth grade year while others wait until the last day of Signing Day their senior year. It is about finding a perfect fit for an athlete in athletics, academics, as well as socially. Those are three very big factors in this decision that will help you decide when and where you want to attend college.