Q&A with a Family Part 1: What happens with football recruiting during a coaching change late in the process

When an athlete accepts a Division I scholarship offer for any sport, they feel strongly that this is the school that they want to spend the next four or five years of their life at.  And while some may decommit and eventually pick another program, the majority of athletes stay strong to their word when they originally commit.

But what happens to a recruit after committing when the head coach at the school leaves the program in a flash only a short time before Signing Day?  We had a chance to do a question and answer with a family who had the chance to go through this exact situation.  Find out what they thought about the whole process and what they did to help their son get football recruiting attention in the first place.  This is part one of a two part article.

Can you please describe the overall recruiting process that your family went through?
The recruiting process started in the summer between our son’s sophomore and junior years. He attended the State University #1 one-day Prospect Camp and one day of State University #2 three-day padded camp. He also attended a 7 on 7 Passing Camp at State University #2. Being a starter on the State Championship Team jump started his recruiting due to the exposure he got during the semifinals and State Championship Game.

We had a highlight tape made and attended a number of Junior Day Events at several schools. In the spring of his junior year, we also made several unofficial visits to check facilities, academics, and the football program.  We had offers from a couple of recruiting services to promote our son and help with the recruiting process but we opted to try it ourselves first.  With the offer from State University #1 in April of ’08 and his commitment in May ’08, he decided to end his process early because that was the offer he was looking for.

What had been your experience with football recruiting prior to this?
None. We did our own recruiting process with our daughter, who received a volleyball scholarship from Out-of-State University #1.

When did you feel your son had the potential to play college athletics?
Freshman Year

Did you use a recruiting service/recruiting agent during the recruiting process? If so, why? If not, why did you go that route?
Both (parents) are college athletes and have gone through the recruiting process ourselves. Granted, it was many years ago and things are quite a bit different today but we knew the questions that needed to be asked and we knew that we needed to promote our son through exposure at camps, a highlight video, and communicating with the coaching staffs. We had some experience with recruiting from going through the process with our daughter.

We did speak to a couple of recruiters, but after seeing the price of some of the services, we felt we would make a run of it on our own before soliciting their services.  Being from Large High School #1, a school with a rich tradition in football and a great coaching staff, also was a big help in the recruiting process. The coaches do a nice job of promoting their players and have many contacts in the college ranks.

If you handled recruiting yourself, what did you do to help get your son’s name out to college coaches?
We had a highlight video made and sent it out to many different schools. He attended several junior day events.  The high school coach sent his name out on many potential athlete questionnaires. During his junior year, he worked out with another Division I athlete during track. Many coaches visit Large High School #1 throughout the winter and spring. When they were talking to this other athlete, they noticed our son’sbody type, work ethic, and foot speed, and took a mental note of who he was.

Do you feel that making All State/All Conference lists is important during the recruiting process?
No. Our son did not have a single post season honor during his Junior season.

What do you feel were some of the best steps that you took to help get your son attention?
Attending camps in the summer.

Were there any steps that you took that you would have avoided when looking back now?
No

How much help did his high school coach play in the recruiting process?
The high school coach did a great job of adding our son’s name to many lists of potential players. He also returned phone calls to many coaches, introduced our son to many of the visiting coaches, and even attended one of the summer camps our son was at and spoke with the coaches there about him.

Was the guidance counselor at the school used much? If so, for what?
Yes. Our son is interested in Engineering. His counselor helped him by giving him a list of the top engineering schools to look over during his recruiting process. They also assisted us with some of the Clearinghouse information and sending transcripts out to some of the schools he was looking at.

Did you make a highlight video yourself or have it professionally done? Why did you pick the route that you did?
We had a highlight video made by a local guy.  He is a graduate of Large High School #1, films all of the games, and really knows the players and what to look for in a highlight video. We had seen some of his work and liked what we saw so we went with his services. We felt it was important to have a quality product to send out to the coaches.

How many highlight videos did you end up sending out total?
Between 10-15

Before sending the videos, had you had much contact with the college coaches?
Not really, in most cases it was our son’s contact with coaches at school and from camps.

Was there much contact with the media during the recruiting process? Did you use it to help get the word out about scholarship offers?
Yes. Before our son’s scholarship offers, the only media contact was from Rivals.com and Scout.com.  Once he committed to State University #1, the larger newspapers throughout the State and television crews started interviewing him.

Why did your son decide to end the recruiting process in May originally?
ISU was our son’s “dream school” for football and engineering.  He’s been to the city many times for different family and athletic events. He’s always liked the campus, the energy during the games he attended, and the city. He liked the size of the school, the football facilities, and he’s always wanted to play in that conference. When State University #1’s coach offered him in April, we visited a few other schools and nothing ever lived up to his vision of that program. When we went on an unofficial visit in May and looked more in depth at the Engineering Program, the student housing, and the Academic Center, there was no doubt in his mind that this was the place he wanted to be.

Was there any thought at all that the coaches at State University #1 would leave?
No. We thought State University #1’s coach would be there at least five years.

When did your family first hear about the coaching change?
We heard rumors the day before State University #1’s coach announced he was taking the job at another school.

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