There is a junior football prospect who I recently spoke with about what is going on with his recruiting. This athlete has done a marvelous job marketing himself to schools throughout the country. He has impressive testing numbers and looks solid on film. And with that, he has received a lot of information from colleges in a wide variety of places.
And while I think he will receive a Division I-AA (FCS) scholarship at worst, no schools have stepped up to offer him at this point. With all of the attention that he has been getting, this junior has been invited to a lot of Junior Days that he has attended. The family has spent a great deal of money going to somewhere around five to ten Junior Days in a variety of locations. Once you add in travel (gas or airfare), lodging, and eating for every one of these visits, the price tag keeps growing.
The recruiting process is a once in a lifetime thing that is extremely unique compared to anything else an athlete will go through. But is spending all this money really worth it in the long run? My strong opinion about this is no, it is better to hit the in-state/surrounding state Junior Days that can easily be driven to.
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The reason to stay close to home for these is unless there are offers on the table, it is tough to really gauge the interest that the school has. Programs are throwing out Junior Day invites almost as frequently as they are throwing out camp invites. A very small amount of schools keep their numbers low at each Junior Day. I know one Big Ten school that for every athlete they invited to Junior Days over the past three years, the lowest level that one player has gone from that is Division II.
One of the things that parents always say in their Q&As after the recruiting process is that they took too many visits, especially to the same places. Maybe in a perfect world, all of these schools will end up offering this athlete a scholarship. I honestly hope so because he is a great kid who I hope gets a lot of opportunities in college.
Showing up at these Junior Days does show that you are interested in the school and what they have to offer. But again, it is something where you can easily get lost in the shuffle. If they send out 200 invites and 80 athletes show up (plus a large amount of family as well), then how much 1-on-1 time are you really expecting with a college coach? The only thing they are promising you if you attend is a good meal and more information about their school.
These coaches do the same mass invites during sophomore and junior years for many athletes to their game day visits. While it is great to get three tickets, the reason that the coaches are doing this is to start a good relationship and make sure they are not missing out on anyone. That is why they throw around the tickets so readily. What is it going to hurt to bring more recruits in?
Many schools are also doing this for Junior Day. What these Junior Days most likely do is give recruits a false impression of how hard the school is recruiting them. If they invited me to their Junior Day, I might as well come to their camp. I will remind you that unless they call you during late April/May, they are not really recruiting you. And I don’t care how many games, Junior Days, spring practices, and spring games they invite you to.
If I was in the shoes of this athlete, be realistic. Is a Big 12 powerhouse really going to offer you if you come to their Junior Day, especially when you currently have zero scholarship offers?