One of the toughest questions to answer in the recruiting process is should I take all of my official visits. With the football dead period about to end and with less than a month left until Signing Day, recruited athletes will need to make a decision if they want to end the recruiting process early or take all five of their visits before that decision comes.
What makes the question so unique to every situation is that it really just depends on the recruit. For example, if you are a player that is very sought after and has schools all over the country wanting to sign you, then chances are good that you can decide on Signing Day and they would still take you in a heart beat. The problem with that scenario is that few athletes have that option to wait that long into the process.
As much as I love doing work on this site to help recruits, my assumption is that few athletes with double digit Division I scholarship offers would visit very often. These players already know that they will have their college paid for and do not need this site to help them. If anything, it is up to them doing the research and looking into what place will be the best fit.
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Going back to the original question at hand, most recruits are probably stuck in a very hard place right now that have scholarship offers. The schools that have extended the offers would love to land you, but they need to have a back up plan in case you decide to sign with their conference rivals. What most coaches will do in this situation is be honest with. They will say that on January 15th (Or just some random date), they will be offering another prospect.
In the end, this prospect could be made up just to help pressure you into a decision. Or they could be real because the school has to land a defensive tackle and they can’t risk going into Signing Day empty handed throughout the athletic recruiting process. It is very tough because if you are a Division II/Division I-AA recruit right now, you basically have to spend the next few weekends making official visits if you want to take all five.
But if a school that you love has you scheduled for an official visit but has not offered, you are rolling the dice on passing up the scholarship that is currently on the table. Recruits may feel that it is better to wait on a college decision, but some end up getting burned by waiting through the process and deciding late.
You are gambling one or two ways. The first is making an early decision and seeing things change. For example, a recent recruit decided to make a commitment to a Division I-AA (FCS school for those out there) early in December. I will talk about this more in another article, but like all coaches, this recruit was told that the head coach would be there all five years of his career. Apparently a job opens and this coach decides to leave before coaching him one of those years. Now what does the recruit do?
He already canceled his visits to the other schools and some may have moved on by landing commitments from prospects they felt were lower ranked than he was. But those doors may now be shut. The good news is that it is still early enough in the process that if he wants to look around, he still can. If the coach left on February 1st, it may have been even tougher for the recruit.
On the other hand, this recruit could have spent January weekends making official visits around the country. He had only taken two trips so he easily could have made more visits. But if he had decided to do that and taken his last trip over the weekend of January 26th, would all of the options he had early still been there? That is a tough question to answer.
Many Division II and some I-AA schools will now talk scholarship offers unless you take your official visit there. This is a good move on their part because the coaches force you to make them among your top five if you want that scholarship offer on the table. Some schools will entice a player to visit by promising an offer (Which usually does happen), but at the Division II level, it could be 5% of your tuition. An athletic scholarship can be anything at the Division I-AA and II levels so them promising you an offer doesn’t mean it has to be a high scholarship percentage.
My advice for recruits is that you need to find a place that you feel most comfortable at. Like when trying to buy a house, many recruits said they would visit a school and it just felt like home. You need to try and find that feeling. Even if it your first official visit in September or your last right before Signing Day, you should not make a decision until you are completely comfortable with it.
As bad as student loans are (And I can attest to that), I would rather have them than had a bad experience in college. If you can get your education paid for and leave debt free or with little debt, you have to realize how lucky you are. It will give you a huge head start on life and will be a major factor if you should make all of your visits or not.