This situation happens more often than many people throughout the country think. While a number of athletes are having press conferences to finalize their future college, other senior football players have not yet made a college decision. And in the majority of situations, these are the athletes who have not been offered by the Division I-A (BCS), Division I-AA (FCS), and Division II schools.
A few things that I must mention before going into this. If there is any doubt about you wanting to play college football, you need to take a long time to look at yourself in the mirror and figure out if it will be worth it for you. Playing at the Division III level is about the love of the game because you are essentially doing it for free. So there must be a great deal of love there simply because you are going to be “donating” a lot of hours to your sport. If you don’t love if, chances are you will quit.
The next area I must touch on is that unless something crazy happens, you should likely give up hope of getting a scholarship at the I-A, I-AA, and II college levels. There are players that fall through the cracks and end up impressing college coaches with senior film in March. But how often does that really happen? The only other reason why I could see athletes getting a scholarship is if a player expected to sign at one of those schools falls through. Outside of that, your focus should not be on these programs unless your plan is to walk-on.
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- Complete Package: Junior Football All State Recruiting Package
- E-Book: Football Recruiting Position by Position Advice
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- E-Book: Producing a Scholarship Worthy Highlight Video
- E-Book: How Seniors Can Finish the Football Recruiting Process Strong
If you are confident about playing in college, one decision that you must make is looking hard into the Division III/NAIA schools versus the Junior College programs. What the JC schools have to offer is the potential (let me stress potential) to go to a bigger program after two years. However, these schools over recruit as many athletes as they can and the education that you receive in your two years at the school does not compare to almost all Division III schools. Most Junior College programs also have spent the last few months recruiting athletes and some even signed yesterday. What that means is if you decide to take that route and are not hearing from any JC coaches, you would likely be a last minute recruit that would not be high on their priority list.
There are also athletes who have committed with Division III/NAIA programs at this point but their football recruiting process usually takes longer than any of the other levels. A number of the players heading to these schools may have been hoping for a scholarship from a larger program but it never ended up coming through. For many, these may actually be a fall back option but if you followed the advice of this site, you should have been considered all of the schools recruiting you so it may turn out to be a great thing.
If you are focused on the Division III/NAIA programs, now is a great time to really look into them. The Division II scholarship dream may be out the window but these programs will find ways to offer you money (and NAIA programs can offer athletic scholarships as well). What you should do is start taking visits (if you haven’t done so already), research the schools online, and learn more about their program in general.
Once you can find a few programs that you really like, then you should apply to each. Once you get your financial aid package returned from the school, make sure to compare it with the other packages that you have received. What you can also do is shop it around with the goal being to pay the least amount possible for college. Be honest during this process because the last thing you want is to have the coaches feel you are lying to them.
If you are unhappy with the amount of interest you are receiving at all levels, then you need to go through the third of the Five Steps to a Scholarship Offer. Your goal is to market yourself to schools. Again, you have to be realistic because most Division II and bigger schools will likely not be offering a scholarship. These schools may accept you as a walk-on, if you are talented and lucky. Outside of that, it is going to be hard to find too many options outside of the Division III/NAIA/Junior College programs.