What is a “January Recruit” in the eyes of college coaches

One of the more interesting phrases that I found from a comment on the board related to more information regarding a January Decision Recruit. Basically what this involves is a recruit who is not a top tier recruit but still a prospect would like to land in the recruiting process. But before they offer a January recruit, they are going to see what happens with their top rated recruits.

I have also called these January Recruits fallback recruits or option B/C in the recruiting process. College coaches have to keep these January recruits on the hook because you never know what will happen. It could be a decommitment or an academic casualty but there is no doubt in my mind that every coach uses these just in case.

In some situations, these January Recruits could be full fledge recruits that they are seriously considering offering a scholarship. In other situations, these recruits may just be backup options who at the very most would be offered a walk-on spot. I have seen major Division I schools frequently call recruits during the fall and winter then not even offer them a spot to walk-on (I am not trying to worry families, just saying that it does happen).

The reason that the January Recruits occur is pretty simple. The top players in the country may be considering multiple schools but he obviously will only be signing with one. These schools don’t want to fill up their defensive line offers if they have a potential five star on the line.

If the school loses that five star recruit, then they have two options. The first is to bank the scholarship for the following class or give it to a best available athlete. In this situation, landing a defensive lineman to add to the depth at that spot is needed in this hypothetical story. Now that option A is going to a different school, your son may be Option B.

If you could see the recruiting board for this school, they know exactly what their plan will be if they are unable to land the five star defensive lineman. Yes, they are probably confident that he will attend school there (as are most of the other schools in the race) but they know that they must have backup options in place. If you are that option B, then you are what is known as a January Recruit.

This defensive lineman is going to make his decision in January and that will cause a domino effect for different schools. If he lands at one program, that school may close up the recruiting at defensive line for the year and be thrilled with landing this five star athlete.

The other three schools will all have to pick up the pieces and make a decision. State University may have already offered three defensive tackles and will take commitments from the first two. Southwest State may have a defensive end who is the best athlete on the board that they feel they must bring into this recruiting class. Every situation is unique that is it very hard to tell what a school would do if you are their B recruit.

You may be the next in line but that is not 100% sure that you will be getting a scholarship offer. They may end up offering a linebacker that they like better than you and only offering you a walk-on spot. Crazy things happen during the recruiting process and you must be prepared for changes at all turns.

If you are a January Recruit, what you should do is start looking at smaller schools. If Western State University is seriously considering, then broadcast your attention to other PAC 10 and Mountain West schools. If Mountain West schools are recruiting you, start looking at Division I-AA programs. And if you are only hearing from Division I-AA programs, look into Division II schools.

You must be prepared for a worst case scenario here because the college coaches will be. Their strategy likely will remain private until the last minute so when they throw out “we are offering you a walk-on role” or “we are no longer interested in you,” there have to be other options that you can take. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a mistake and not something you want to deal with if your dream school falls through.

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