I had a chance to talk to a recruit last night and was speaking with him about summer camps. While this was a basketball player, this article does apply to a variety of different sports. Before going into what he said, let me state that he has multiple Division I offers from low major schools and interest from a variety of others. Like a lot of basketball recruits, many are waiting to see him more this summer on the AAU circuit.
I asked him about what other camps that he planned to attend that summer. He mentioned that he received an invite from State University (The most liked college in his State) to their Elite Camp. Normally that is a big honor that most athletes sign up for right away. But this recruit had a very interesting line when talking about it. He said that because State University had called him or shown all that much interest, he wasn’t going to go. The reason he said was because he felt that he was invited just to fill numbers at the camp.
What he meant by filling numbers at the camp is this. A Division I men’s basketball program is allowed to give out thirteen scholarships to prospective athletes. Because most coaches try to keep the recruiting classes even, they want to bring in somewhere around four athletes per recruiting period. At an elite basketball camp, there are usually somewhere between fifty to sixty players. While ages can vary greatly, the percentage of athletes at the camp that will end up getting an offer from that school are small.
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This athlete knew that the school was recruiting him. They would occasionally send him mail and they may watch him during the AAU season. But because the numbers at the camp had to be filled, they were obviously sending out invites to players that they may not really be evaluating. What they were doing is filling the numbers with competent athletes (He does have multiple Division I offers just not at the level of this school) who could play against kids that they had higher on their recruiting lists.
The reason that this applies to football as well is that most colleges have a senior one day camp where they bring in what they consider their top prospects. While these football coaches may be getting a chance to work with these players for the first time, my guess is that they don’t think all really have as good of a shot at getting a scholarship as the top prospects of the group. As with the basketball camp, they need to find enough bodies that can at least stay somewhat competitive against their top recruits.
These elite camps or senior camps are much more important in the recruiting process than their week long camps later in the summer (That is especially true for basketball). While you can get a scholarship out of the week long football camps, the majority of the summer basketball camps are jokes. It is a way for the college coaches to boost their income and let the kids have some fun.
The one nice thing about these elite camps is that they are normally cheaper. The college coaches are making little, if any money off of them. The reason that they are holding them is as a recruiting tool. They want to get a chance to evaluate the prospects and learn more about them. And at the same time, they have the recruits on campus and are building a relationship that way.
Many of these camps also have lower level coaches that may help you down the road. But if you already hold multiple scholarship offers and you have a school that is going through the motions in recruiting, he may have made the right choice passing. Why not spend your energy at a school that is seriously considering you as a prospective recruit than one that just needs you to fill a number?