I have spent the past two years harping time and time again about the importance to consider all of your options during the athletic recruiting process. You may have the biggest Division I eyes known to the world but if all of them suddenly disappear after you have a poor senior year, what are your backup plans? These schools also have recruiting boards and may not even take time big time athletes like yourself.
If you are a football recruit going through the process, the fall is a great time to broaden your horizons. The reason this time is important for football recruits is because you can go to campuses and see schools in action. If schools are willing to offer you free tickets and you have access to a vehicle that can get you to the game, you might as well try to see what schools at all levels have to offer.
The more visits that you take, the more opportunity that you will personally have to be able to compare schools with one another. You may think that you are a Division I football player and that is all you want to do. But when you take a trip to State University and actually get a feel for the size of the campus and sheer amount of people that go to the school, you may change your mind. At the same time, you may end up falling in love with the school and hoping for an opportunity to even walk-on at State University.
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The same can be said for the Division III level. There is a lot I love about Division III football because it is so pure. Most games are not televised and these athletes are basically playing for the love of the game. But one thing that most Division III schools are lacking is a huge following. So don’t go to a Division III game expecting a huge tailgate and a great crowd for the games. Outside of family members, the local community, and some students, not that many people are going to be coming to the game.
The reason that you should try to take as many visits as you can is simply to get a feel for all the schools at different levels. You can do all the research online you want but the best way to get a real feel for a campus and a college is to actually drive your butt there and walk around. Without that, it is nearly impossible to make your own assumptions about the school.
A few years back I was told by someone how great this certain Division III school was. According to the person that I talked to, they had brand new facilities and everything was first class. I finally had an opportunity to visit there a while back and it wasn’t all that special. It didn’t seem all that new and I wasn’t really sure where my source for his information. That is why taking trips yourself is so vital.
So if you have the time, money, and wheels to get around, you might as well take advantage of comparing schools and their game day atmosphere. Also, don’t always go to the big rivalry game. Some smaller colleges are smart enough to schedule recruiting visits for the day when the fans actually care about the game. The off games are sometimes the ones to watch and see how the crowd reacts. Did anyone come? Were they into the game? Can you see yourself playing there for the next four or five years?