For those with Division I-A (BCS) dreams, there basically is only one reason now why a school at this level will offer you a scholarship this late in the process. It is simply because a recruit that they were after picks another school or the coaches just do not feel good about where they stand with a current football recruit.
I would love to sugarcoat this response and say that these schools will be throwing out offers left and right. The problem is that this is just flat out not true. Many of these schools are now putting the finishing touches on their recruiting classes. There is also a potential for a grayshirt offer but those don’t happen very often and are rare from school to school.
What these schools will most likely be telling you is if you are going to be invited as a walk-on. Regardless of your disappointment, there is no reason to shut down any doors in the football recruiting process so at the very least consider it. It may be a good bargaining tool in the race for scholarship dollars.
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The majority of Division I-AA (FCS) schools have already started to bring in their top targets on official visits. Because these programs have a set budget that they can offer for scholarships in each class, the timing of your visits really do matter. In most cases (let me stress most because there are always exceptions to the rule), these schools bring in their top recruits in December if they are out of the playoffs.
Otherwise, the earlier in January that you are invited for an official visit, the better your chance are to get a larger scholarship. The first few weekends of January are when these schools are competing with each other to snag their top recruits. These schools believe that the sooner they can get an athlete on campus to see what they have to offer and to extend a specific dollar/percentage amount to the scholarship, the better the chances that they have to land them.
As it gets into late January and early February, many of the visits are used for low scholarship offers (20% and less) or potential walk-ons. Again, this is not how every case plays out but that is the standard situation for the majority of Division I-AA schools.
Division II coaches take a similar path as the Division I-AA coaches. The one thing that these Division II coaches make sure of in about 95% of the situations is that they want an athlete on campus in order to discuss exact numbers for a scholarship. Like I said above, bringing an athlete on campus is by far the best way to impress them and give them a full taste of what their school has to offer. They may offer something verbally but the exact numbers will not be known until you actually take a trip to the school officially.
The coaches at the Division III and Junior College ranks are waiting to see which athletes get offers and which ones don’t. Both levels continue to recruit athletes but since an offer from a larger school in many cases will trump what they have to offer, these coaches are lying in waiting until the dust settles after Signing Day.
If coaches are still calling you and haven’t mentioned an official visit, then you need to bring it up yourself. Take some initiative (parents can print this out and show it to their son but make sure the topic is discussed and brought up frequently). If a school really is seriously interested in your abilities, then they should have already talked about it and worked on finding a date.
If no coaches are calling and all you are getting is mail, then go back to The Five Steps to a Scholarship Offer and read the section on marketing an athlete to college coaches. You need to take a long stretch of time and make 100% sure that you really want to play college football. If you have serious doubt, then it may not be for you.
Your decision should be that you want to play. If that is the case, then market yourself to Division III and a few smaller Division II programs. This is a great time to be realistic (tough concept for some to swallow) and realize that if no calls are coming, then you are likely going to have to play at the lowest level. It sucks but it is the only way to continue your career.
For those with attention from larger schools, take those visits and document as much as you can about them. You are likely going to be making a college decision within the next month and relieve yourself of one of the most stressful decisions of your life. And while it is great to get over, remember that this may be the only time in your life where adults will be doing everything that they can to lure you to their school. This basically will be the only time you will ever experience anything like that. Enjoy it, put the time in, and make a very educated decision that you will be happy with.