Being a backup athletic recruiting during the recruiting process and what you can do

If you are a football recruit or basketball recruit heading into your senior season and you have received Division I interest but no scholarship offers at this point, I can tell you right now at the very most you are a backup recruit.  What I mean by a backup recruit is basically a fallback option for the coaches at the schools recruiting you if their top targets pick other programs. 

Coaches have to have these backup recruits for obvious reasons.  If they are trying to take two linebackers in this senior class and the two athletes with offers suddenly pick another school, the coaches want to be able to have option B lined up.  If they don’t have you or others as a backup recruit, then they will be scrambling in hopes of getting a commitment from an option D or E recruit.  If that is the case, then the coaches are likely in trouble in the long run.  But there are some things that you can do about it. 

Lets say hypothetically that you are a backup lineman recruit for Ohio State.  You have been hearing from the Buckeyes via mail, letters, the phone, email, attended a Junior Day, and worked out for their coaches at their camp.  They continue to tell you to be patient, keep working hard, and to send your first three game tapes of your senior season.

In all honesty, I have never heard of a coaching staff being so wowed by those first three game tapes from an athlete that attended a summer camp at that same program.  The story I hear more common of athletes getting offers at this time of year or during the fall is when their top recruits either pick another school or decommit.  That leaves them with an opening that you could fill yourself. 

I have told this story before but State University was recruiting this athlete extremely hard.  They had not offered and basically told him the be patient and we will review your tape after the first three games following him attending their camp.  A few weeks after the camp, the school has a player at the same position who was previously committed change his mind and pick another school in their conference.  State University then offers this other athlete recruit.  Did the coaches at State University suddenly change their mind after re-watching his tape?  Not a chance. 

This is the domino effect of being a backup recruit.  The problem is that you will likely never know for sure where you are at on the chart.  You may be next in line at cornerback but the coaches may suddenly decide that they don’t need a cornerback in this class.  Nothing is guaranteed until you sign that final paper in the football recruiting process come February. 

If you are in this situation, the first thing that you must do is not sit there and just wait.  What you need to do is be proactive and really start to market yourself to college coaches.  Take a look at Division I-A, I-AA, II, and III schools that may fit you academically and athletically.  The broader the search, the more options you will have in the recruiting process. 

I hate to say it but there is obviously a hole in your game if you are unable to land a scholarship offer at this point in the process.  Sure, an offer may come down the road but you want to make sure that you will have options when everything is said and done.  That is why I think it is vital that you look at new schools.  This is the surest way to make sure if the big boys don’t come calling in the fall, you have backup options lined up. 

Just look at all the athletes throughout the country committing to smaller Division I football and basketball programs.  They could roll the dice and see if bigger programs would come calling.  But in the end, the key is finding where you will be happiest.  And just because a school is bigger doesn’t mean it will make you any happier there. 

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