A mother’s thoughts on the athletic recruiting process and how a season ending injury can factor into things

I had a chance to email back and fourth with a mom who has been through a lot during the recruiting process. Her son was a highly rated player in the Midwest and could have added multiple scholarship offers if not for an injury in his first game of his senior year. This is the a nightmare for any recruit who does not have any scholarship offers. Her son’s ACL was torn and his missed the majority of his senior year. But in the end, it worked out and he was able to stay in state at a strong program.

This gracious and helpful mom answered some of my questions about what her family went through. This is a very interesting take because this is the exact opposite of what anyone wants to happen during their final year of prep football. But as I mentioned, luckily for them, it all worked out in the end and her son will be paying very little for his college education. Here is this in-depth question and answer.

Describe how the recruiting process went for your son?
“My son would probably be the best person to ask on this but I think it was okay until it got to be November of his senior year. He was another one of those kids who had gotten a lot of mail from all around and was going on about his fourth large shoe box full of stuff. He seemed to be getting a lot of attention from four main Division I schools with no scholarship offers but all of them interested in watching his senior year. With all of the junior day visits he was invited to, spring games, and camps he attended the frustration started to set in when others started getting offers and none for him. He tried to be patient and understanding and kept working hard; then got hurt the first play of his season and he knew everyone was wanting to see how he would do his senior year, and getting time in at defensive back. Many schools wanted to see him at that position so he was going to do that his senior year in addition to running back.”

What was the highlight of the process?
“In the beginning when he still had hope of getting some offers he just enjoyed the visits and getting to see games and tour campuses and getting to know coaches. After he had gotten hurt and when it got to be later in the season his biggest highlight was having an in home visit and then eventually getting an offer from that same school. Early he really enjoyed the attention until it started to turn into frustration.”

What was the toughest part of the process?
“Just not understanding how the whole recruiting process goes and why schools do what they do and pick the kids that they pick. Also after finding out that several of the Division I schools that were recruiting my son still had offers out there to other kids who had also torn their ACL so it wasn’t just because of that. I’m sure there are several factors but you just never know. Having several great years of camp at one particular Division I school, good camps this past summer, and even getting MVP at running back for the Nike Camp didn’t seem to be enough. His position is also a hard position to get recruited it seems; he was going to show what he could do on the other side of the ball with his speed and athleticism but never got the chance.”

How much time did the family spend traveling to visits?
“We went to so many visits to one particular school that I could have given the tour myself. There were junior day visits and spring games at a variety of schools. Then the Army Combine in Texas, the Nike Camp, camps at a number of colleges. In addition to more games in the fall to all of the above including a Division I-AA and II school. It was a lot of traveling for almost a year but at the time was very enjoyable and exciting.”

When your son tore his ACL and was out for the majority of his senior year, was the family worried about a scholarship?
“We were not as worried about getting an actual scholarship as much. We were probably more worried about him not getting an offer from a school that he really wanted to attend. However, it all worked out and he did get that offer from a school that he was hoping to get one from and cannot wait to get there. It has been his dream to play Division I football (or Division I-AA) so he felt that he would walk on to a school of that size even if he got a scholarship from a Division II school just to try and see what he could do.”

Did the injury turn schools away?
“Yes to a certain extent. I do believe it wasn’t just this injury however. I feel that if he had a chance to play on the other side of the ball, or would have thought to do that his junior year that would have helped him out with the schools that were wanting to see him play at that position and never got the chance to. And then whatever other factors schools look at when recruiting. It is hard to tell for sure.”

Were all coaches straight forward with you during recruiting?
“Some were and some weren’t.”

Did any coaches lie to you or your son during the recruiting process?
“I wouldn’t say that any of them “lied” to him that I know of. However it was hard to read them and also to find out they didn’t want him bad enough to make him an offer in the end but really seemed like they did in the beginning of the process and when working with them at camps.”

How does it feel to know your son is getting his college paid for?
“It feels great that he is getting a very cheap education and gets to play football along the way. I don’t even think it has really sunk in yet but I know it is a great thing!”

If you could do it all over again, would there be anything you would change?
“Probably not go to SO many unofficial visits to all the same schools without even knowing if that is where he would end up. One would be plenty until you know there is an offer on the table or that he wants to go there no matter what happens.”

Do you have any advice for other parents reading this?
“Enjoy the whole process while not letting it consume you and your family. Also, if you get stressed out about the whole thing your kid probably will too. Try not to figure it out either as far as who schools recruit and why. Even our son’s coach said he cannot figure out how it all works and once he thinks he knows he just gets confused all over again.”

Were you often stressed by the recruiting process?
“Yes. Just not knowing what was going to happen and to have all that stress on my son as well. One example is that he had gotten a call from the coaches at one of the Division I schools recruiting him the week that they were going to come and watch him play. That was a stressful week knowing that he wanted to impress them, then he ended up getting hurt the first play (of his first game).”

*A special thanks for this mom’s help for this article.

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