I wrote sometime ago about the different levels of recruiting interest. This is a piece that continues to need updating because of the changes that are going throughout the athletic recruiting process. With scholarship being the goal, it is always interest for athletes to see where the interest that they have been getting ranks. In reverse order of importance, here are my thoughts on the level of attention that colleges are showing you:
The cold zone/Basic interest
Camp Invite – While it is very true that college coaches will invite players to a camp to seriously consider them for a scholarship, these same coaches have to invite a lot of other players as well. Some will tell the player that if they are the best quarterback or running back at the camp, they will offer. And in some respects, that may be true but unlikely to happen. At basketball and football programs across the country, the pay of coaches is supplemented with money that is earned during summer camps. So if a coach wants to earn more money, he needs to get more athletes at the camp. And at the same time, what this coach can do is invite any player who was named All State, All Conference, or All District the previous season. If one player shocks everyone and eventually receives a scholarship, it was worth the $300 plus to go to the camp. If not, the coach still gets paid for the camp by the player. In the majority of cases, the player does leave camp without a scholarship offer. But at least they get a t-shirt of the school.
Questionnaires – College coaches will send out questionnaires to recruits to learn more about them. When they originally start their recruiting database with thousands and thousands of athletes, the questionnaires will help them narrow things down. For example, some schools may send out these to many athletes in the area. But if it is a Division I school and the player averaged five points as a junior, that is likely to be their last piece of mail that they send the kid. I list this above camp invite because with this, they are least want to learn more about you and your skills.
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Form Letters – These are the generic letters from college coaches that are typed up and not personal at all. It can include brief talks about the school, updates on the program, and anything generic that has nothing personal about you at all. This is another letter that could go to 5,000 different athletes throughout the country. While these are nice to receive, getting one from a Division I school is far from being a Division I player. Two quick notes about these before moving on. When I was in high school, I received a form letter from the University of Texas El Paso, aka UTEP after my junior year. This was after I put up less than one point per game. In that same year, a soccer player who was in my grade had played football his first two years of high school but didn’t as a junior. After that year, the University of Nebraska sent him a form letter. So again, form letters mean little to nothing.
School Visits – While it is great to say hello to a college coach visiting your school, many of these coaches go through the same schools every year. They do this as a way to talk to the head coach. They may not be serious about you as a prospect but something that the coach does every year just in case your school has a prospect. It is building up that relationship for future use. With how many high schools college coaches visit, I really don’t think it is that big of a deal to have them in attendance.
Emails – While there has been software developed recently over the last few years that allows coaches to send out mass emails to prospective recruits (Trust me, more coaches than you think use these), emails are a step above the form letter when it becomes a personal thing. If they are just email blasts with no substance included, then I would actually rank this below form letters. But if it is personal and to just you, then it is a step above. Getting an email from a college coach is a good thing but do realize that they send a lot of mass emails out about their program.
Personalized Social Media Contact – The biggest thing about this is that it is not a camp invite. The coach at the school is working to get to know you With that in mind, it is very high on the list.
Warming up/The school is at least somewhat interested
Hand Written Letters – Receiving hand written letters from college coaches means that they are serious enough about you to spend enough attention to write out what should be a personalized note. While it is unknown how many of these they write, and if they actually do write them (Which is what graduate assistants may be used for), they are a step up the recruiting importance chain. One thing to note on these hand written letters. I wrote about an athlete a few years back who was being recruited hard by two Division I football teams in-state and had received hand written letters from them during the spring of his junior year. And this kid ended up playing sports at the Division III level. Like I said, hand written letters are a step up but nothing to get a big head about. Some schools may also send out supposed hand written notes that are actually a font on the computer. These are the fun ones to try and figure out.
Junior Day Visits – Regarding the Junior Day visit, let me state that it really depends on the school. I have seen some programs keep their visit numbers very low and all of the players there eventually go on to a scholarship somewhere. On the other hands, there are schools like Louisville and Iowa State that bring in as many kids will come. Did you play varsity? Then come on to the Junior Day. The bigger the numbers, the less prestigious it is. If there are above fifty athletes there, than rank this lower than the hand written letter. Coaches at the school mentioned before are likely trying to use this as a way to get kids to camp. While it will be a good evaluation tool, these coaches have to realize that many of these players are not even good enough for scholarship football
Phone Calls – When receiving a phone call from a coach, you know that it is something that they are doing and it is impossible (Well, lets hope) for them to fake. This gives you as a player a chance to learn more about the coach and their program. This gives the coach a chance to learn more about you as a person and not just an athlete. Athletes that are being seriously recruited by a school will receive a call during the open periods. If you are a quiet kid, make sure to ask the coach questions about the program and show them they you are interested. While they would not stop recruiting you from this, coaches will dread calling kids who are quiet and tough to talk to. That is a known fact from coaches at all levels..
On fire/Things are going very good in recruitingOn fire/Things are going very good in recruiting
Official Visits – I wouldn’t say that official visits are sure fire offers because some of the players on these do end up walking on. But if a school is going to pay for you to visit campus, that says a lot about what they think of you as a player. My guess is that if you are brought on an official visit, unless you get in trouble while there, the least they will offer you is a walk on spot. While that is not for sure, I would guess it would happen in 99% of the cases.
Verbal Scholarship Offers – From what I have learned over the past few years, I personally wouldn’t think that I have an official offer until the paperwork comes in the mail. Some coaches will verbally offer a player or hint around about it. Really, this is a big step for you in the recruiting process. The coach could tell you over the phone that there is an offer for you or while on a visit. It is something to get excited about and few coaches will go back on their word. But some may and that is why the official paperwork is what seals the deal.
Written Scholarship Offer – This may come after talking to the coaching staff or even randomly in the mail. Some schools have been known not to say anything before and the paperwork shows up at an athlete’s house. This basically means that you are in a great situation and you will likely not have to pay for college. It is the dream of any athlete and shows that the time and effort you have put in over the past years of your life has paid off. But it is important to realize that the hard work is only beginning if you are planning to play sports at the scholarship level.