If you had read the articles where I talked about how you should consider all of your options during the athletic recruiting process, this is going to be another story along those lines. But there is no doubt that this article pertaining to fallback schools does have some major relevance.
What is a fallback school? It is basically a school that if all of your dream schools and larger programs end up not coming through, there is still an option that you like in the recruiting process. If you are a senior with no offers currently, you might as well try coming up with a fallback school at all levels. The goal obviously would be to play college football at the highest level possible but if that doesn’t work out and you still want to play, there will be an option you enjoy awaiting you still.
Let’s say right now you are a senior with no scholarship offers. What that likely means is outside of walking on, chances are slim that any Division I-A (BCS) football program will offer you a scholarship (yes, it could still happen but for the sake of the article, that scholarship offer is not coming). You are hoping that you have the ability to play at the Division I-AA (FCS) level during college and have been targeting those schools accordingly.
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Right now, there is one in-state Division I-AA program that you may consider your dream school. This is the school you have followed for the last few years and would love to get a chance to play there. Unfortunately they have already secured a top rated offensive tackle and only have an option to bring you in as a walk on. Because the school is expensive, you want to continue seeing what else is available.
At the Division II level is a number of schools that you like but they are far away from home. They are offering a small amount of scholarship money but nothing that you are thinking about jumping on right this second. Your state may have a limited amount of Division II schools in your area and that may make playing at that level tough for you to do because you want to stay close to home.
All of the schools that you are currently looking at may work out for you to play college football. But if walking on at a bigger school and/or taking a small scholarship at a far away school doesn’t work, wouldn’t it be smart to have a fallback school at the Division III or NAIA level just in case things don’t work out? Yes, every athlete wants to play for a scholarship but the odds are slim for many athletes. That is why in the spring of your junior year, it may be worth taking some visits to Division III and NAIA programs around your area.
Division III schools may not be able to offer scholarships but they certainly can help you pay for college. If you are good enough, you may also have the ability to play early and get a great education along the way. If you do the legwork here early (I always seem to be saying that), you may pick one or two schools at this level that you really like. Obviously your focus will be on bigger schools but you know that if things don’t work out, there is a solid fallback option.
Doing this work ahead of time saves you the hassle of struggling when the Division I-AA and II schools end up looking elsewhere for an offensive tackle. You may also not feel comfortable at the Division II schools and want to stay close to mom and dad. This school gives you that option. You may like the bigger schools more but if you have researched the school and met the coaches, you should know a great deal about what they can offer.
Again, having the time to do this is not always easy but if you start early and stay on top of things, there is no doubt that finding these fallback schools could be a good option to have in the recruiting process. There is a lot you won’t be able to control but having these fallback schools in your back pocket means you won’t feel forced to take a small scholarship at a school eight hours away.