In one of the most interesting comments that this site has seen in previous weeks, someone wondered about how the athletic recruiting process worked when a school receives a commitment from a similar player in the same class. Here is what the comment said: “My question is about people in my class committing early. If a player commits to the college I want to play should I forget about playing at that college completely or is there still a way to attend it even though that recruit committed so early?”
While I do believe that this question pertains to the basketball recruiting process, it is an interesting subject to delve into for both football recruiting and basketball recruiting. In many cases, schools will be tight with scholarship offers and that will factor in if they can take two similar players. For both sports, it is definitely a different answer.
Because I believe the question was related to hoops, lets start there. Obviously the first thing that the recruit needs to do is be able to prove that he or she can play at this high level. For example, if we are talking about Kentucky or Texas and the recruit is only getting Division II interest, it may be best to be realistic about the process. But for the sake of this article, lets say the school is recruiting the athlete and they just received a commitment from a very similar player.
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With the small amount of number of basketball scholarships, most schools really don’t try to recruit the same position twice in a class. College coaches know every year exactly what they are looking for in recruiting classes. It may be an athletic wing, a big man inside, or a pass first point guard but they know what they are looking for. Again, going back to the scholarship limitations, they usually don’t go into the process trying to get two similar players.
However, the athlete posing the question may be more of a true point guard and the committed athlete could be more of a combo guard. If the coaches are that enamored with your ability, there is no doubt that they will want to land you. Here is a good recent example. A top tier college baskebtall program is listed as having a commitment from a three star point guard. But they are also in the thick of things for another guard who is rated the #1 player in the country. If their coaches can keep the commitment from the original point guard as well as land the #1 recruit, there is no doubt in my mind that they would want both players in this class.
Again, let me stress that this really depends on the players and if they feel that they are of that ability. If the coaches have three scholarships and are looking for one guard, they may change their mind on the numbers if they are having success with some outstanding guards. They will not stretch and pick a Division II guard just to fill a spot. Division I basketball coaches would rather bank the scholarship if they are not happy with the players currently left and on their radar.
There still are a few other possibilities as to how that spot might open. The first is that the athlete committed to the school decommits and decides to head elsewhere. If that is the case, the scholarship is now up for grabs. The coaches may also see a player at your position transfer that creates an immediate void. The third option is walking on. You would have to speak with the coaches about walking on because you really have to be a heck of a player even to walk on at the Division I level. I have seen many All State high school players get cut trying to walk on.
For football, it is a big different of a story. While coaches would love to fall their top choice of recruits every year, that is not usually the case. Some schools will try to bring two quarterbacks in during a given class and let them sort themselves out. The better quarterback will be the starter while the other one could transfer or be the back up over the next four years. That decision usually depends on the athlete and how much they like the school.
Football has a much bigger luxury with the amount of scholarship offers that they can give. They can bring multiple players who play offensive tackle in high school and then move them to fit spots that they need along their line. While basketball players can be versatile, the scholarship limits let football coaches be much more creative and give them the opportunity to bring in players at the same position in every recruiting class. It is easier to find playing time with twenty two players (plus special teams) versus five starting basketball players.
I recently saw a football recruiting situation where a player ended the recruiting process early. The school continued to recruit a similar athlete and told him to be patient. The athlete did just that and took his time in the recruiting process. For whatever reason, the first athlete decided to commit to another college program. That open scholarship allowed the other athlete to receive an offer from that school. He promptly jumped on the scholarship and won’t be look back anytime soon. So things can open up in the recruiting process. You just never know what will happen and that is why it is important to never write off a team or burn bridges. Doors can open up that you would never expect.