How do college coaches narrow down recruiting databases and eventually figure out which top athletes deserve an offer? 

As I have mentioned, some college coaching staffs begin the recruiting process with over 5,000 prospective recruits. With a list like that, it is definitely not an overnight project to narrow it down to the thirty to fifty (that number varies by school) prospects that they will eventually offer athletic scholarships. Schools there are certain schools and coaches who have have been renowned for offering hundreds of prospects but I would guess that most college programs end up offering athletic scholarships to forty or fifty sought after prospects. That will depend on how many players they need to sign and if they are landing any of these athletes.
When the coaches build this list, the first thing they will do is send out questionnaires to the prospective athletes trying to find out more information about them. These sheets are vital to fill out but at this point, the coaches may be looking more to cut down that recruiting database. If the player has lack luster stats or bad grades, chances are that once the form is filled out, they will be taken out of the database or at least downgraded in the level that they are recruited.
So out of that 5,000, lets just say that 1,000 meets the criteria that the college coaches are looking for. That is when the coach will start showing more interest, sending more letters, and requesting video tape. I have always said putting together a quality highlight video is something that is vital in the recruiting process. My guess is that 500 of those athletes will either not be able to get their hands on tape or the highlight video is so bad that the coaches can’t see much. So the list is down to 500.
Now the coaches will go through the highlight videos and judge which players have the ability to play at their level. With so many prospects to evaluate for an athletic scholarship, unless you have other offers, I am willing to bet that the coaching staff just does not have much time to spend on you and will need to be wowed by your highlight tape early. I have seen about five underrated prospects highlight videos that wowed me into thinking that they would get a Division I scholarship. When all was said and done, all of these athletes ended up getting major Division I scholarships. Before seeing these videos, I would say that the prospects were flying under the radar.
So the coaches cut out 300 of the players because they are just not good enough and now are now down to 200. This is when the coaches should be sending hand written letters and showing much more interest. I would assume this should be around the spring or summer. While you are high on their list, if you don’t have an athletic scholarship at this point, you are not among their top tier of athletes. The coaches take this time to judge how serious you are about their school and then rank the recruits accordingly. The coaches need to do this because if option A, B, and C all fall through, they need to quickly respond and look harder at options D, E, and F to see if they are worth offering.
With the top 200, the coaches will try to bring these athletes on campus for their camp so that they can evaluate the prospective recruit in person. This gives the coaches a chance to see you in person, see if you really are 6-foot-3, can handle coaching, and adapt quickly. Let me note that just because you are invited to a camp, that does not mean you are on their top tier of recruits.
After the camp, the coaches cross 100 recruits off who are just not good enough and are down to 100. Lets say that there are 30 scholarships out, back up plans for the other positions, and the possibility that if you are among those players you can walk on. Like I have said before, it is important to know that going in. These coaches need to keep the backup options uncommitted if things fall through with their top recruits. They will feed you many lines about that they need more evaluations but it is because you are on their second tier of athletes. Unless you make drastic improvements, your offer from that school hinges on on what other recruits decide to do.
That is a quick look at how coaches cut down a list of over 5,000 to around 100 prospects they are somewhat serious about. In the end, around fifty get athletic scholarship offers and the class ends up around twenty to twenty five players. It is different in basketball but the coaches do what they can narrow things down and offer as few prospects as they can.

 

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