Over the last month, I had an opportunity to see an athlete in action on the football field and then a few weeks later I was able to interview him and talk to him about how the football recruiting process was going for him. Before really digging into the story, let me mention a few things. The athlete is about 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and can really move. He started at linebacker as a junior and now starts at quarterback as well this fall for his team.
When watching him play, I strongly felt that the reason why he was playing quarterback was because he was one of the best athletes and leaders on the team. He didn’t seem to have a strong arm during the game in the limited amount of times I saw him throw the ball. With the way he hit, I believed that he could get a Division II scholarship because of his play defensively. But in talking to him, I was surprised that he wanted to play college football at a position that I felt strongly was his secondary position.
This happens all the time and at all levels so this story is not unique or different than others. Many athletes are dead set on playing a certain position and even give up bigger opportunities to play that spot. There are athletes who major programs want to play defensive back but they want to stay at quarterback (or at least be told that there is a chance that they will play quarterback). Some college coaches will feed them lines about getting a chance (which may happen for one practice) but many know the strength of a player, even when watching him in film. That is especially true for those hoping to play quarterback in college.
So if you are the athlete who strongly prefers another position than what you are being recruited at, what should you do? There are basically two major options.
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The first is to take the biggest scholarship that you get and play whatever the coaches tell you. They are the ones that are basically paying for your college education so maybe you should just shut your mouth, do what you are told, and try to get on the field as early as possible. You should be able to get a good feel from the coaching staff about how realistic your chances are at certain positions.
I know some athletes that have told me they really don’t care where they have to play; they are just happiest seeing the field. And if you think about it, playing time really is something that cures a lot of ails (as well as winning). There are a lot of positions on the football field available. And if you are willing to get your education paid for and want to see the field, let the college coaches figure out where you will be used best. You may end up moving to a variety of positions but really, it is worth it to see the field and help your team out. That is more important than telling people that you are just a quarterback.
Or you could spurn bigger colleges for a guarantee that you will play the position that you want. If you love playing quarterback and don’t care if you have to go to a Division I-A (FCS) or Division II school to do that, then go ahead and live the dream. There are some situations where athletes are just stubborn enough to want to prove college coaches wrong. If you are in that situation and can get a good education at the same time, go for it.
In my opinion, most athletes won’t take this route simply because there is a big difference between Division I-A (BCS) and Division I-AA (FCS) schools. That difference usually pushes athletes to the larger level, even if they are expected to play a position that they may not enjoy the most. But again, do whatever makes you happiest. If you want to turn down a Division I scholarship and play both ways for a Division III school, go do it. Just try to get your education paid for and enjoy yourself in college.