Story: Four Phases in the Recruiting Process

By Randy Rodgers : 5th In A Series

The entire 16-month recruiting process (from the start of a player’s junior year to Signing Day as a senior) can be broken down into four distinct phases, some of which overlap. They are the

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“Prospecting” phase,

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“Evaluation” phase,

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“Marketing” phase, and

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“Contact & Closure” phase.

The Marketing and Evaluation phases are somewhat overlapping, depending on the approach that different college programs utilize.

The Prospecting phase begins and ends with identifying prospects. College coaches find out about you as an individual prospect in a variety of ways. Primarily, college coaches have some type of communication interchange with high school coaches. Some type of questionnaire is mailed out to the high school coach asking for his recommendation on which players are the best college football prospects in his program. Many high school coaches have developed their own questionnaire and merely respond by mailing back their own. Today, both groups have the ability to do this on-line. College coaches also subscribe to a number of newspapers and internet recruiting services to identify top prospects as well as pay attention to all- conference, all-city, and all-state type teams. One of the key things that a college coach wants is to obtain the home address, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of top prospects. So it is very important to respond to each and every questionnaire that you receive.

The Evaluation phase kicks in as soon as the college identifies you as a prospect. The individual questionnaire each high school player fills out contains key information that college coaches use to start the screening process. Height, weight, speed, and statistics are all part of this process. Next the college will try to obtain copies of videos of actual games from the prospect’s junior year. Many players prepare highlight tapes, which are nice, but college coaches do prefer to watch the actual game tapes. They realize that your highlights are exactly that — highlights! Colleges will also want to evaluate you as a student, so it is important to get signed up with the Clearing House, so a college will be able to thoroughly evaluate you as a student. If you pass both of these tests, a college coach will also begin to evaluate each prospect as a person. Carrying excess “baggage” is never a good idea.

Once a school identifies you as a prospect, they will mail you an initial individual questionnaire to start the evaluation process. All subsequent recruiting mail can be generally classified as marketing material. Schools will send you letters, flyers, brochures, cards — all designed to impress you and create a favorable image of their university and football program. At the point they evaluate you as a recruitable prospect, they hope you will be sufficiently impressed with their program.

All three of these phases are going on concurrently right now. Each day, schools find out about more prospects and send them questionnaires. Each day, prospects receive those initial questionnaires, fill them out, and send them back, triggering the evaluation phase. Schools are evaluating players while they are marketing to them.

At some point the contact phase begins. The NCAA defines the contact period as when a college coach can come off his campus to make face-to-face contact with a prospect and his parents, either at the high school or in the prospect''s home. This contact period won’t start until next December. However, more and more prospects are making unofficial visits to campuses this spring to meet coaches and tour facilities. The contact period really has started when this happens. If a school really likes a prospect they can make a verbal offer of a scholarship at any time and if they do, then they will at some point try to “close the deal” and get the prospect to make a decision. Thus the “verbal commitments” you read about in the paper and on the internet each week.

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at the “prospecting phase” and see how prospects can positively impact the process for themselves. Its called Getting on the List!