Story: Getting on the List ...

By Randy Rodgers : 6th In A Series

The recruiting process all begins when the student-athlete is identified as a prospect. Officially a student-athlete is considered a prospect on the first day of class his freshman year in high school. That is when all the NCAA rules that govern recruiting begin to apply. However no high school students identifies the recruiting process until that first recruiting letter arrives in the mail box or his high school coaches office. This week we are going to take a closer look at how that particular part of the process works.

Prospects are identified by colleges in a variety of ways, but primarily through some type of communication with high school coaches. College football programs mass mail all the high schools in their recruiting area, asking for recommendations from the coaches about which players are prospects at their respective levels. Sometimes this communication takes the form of a prospect sheet or card that the high school coach is asked to fill out and return. Today, most high school coaches have a list (in some cases individual biographical sheets) of their junior players and just return their own form instead of filling out the college form. Today, much of this can even be done online.

In each case, the college decides which prospects they want to initiate correspondence with, and then send those student-athletes a letter of introduction and usually enclose a questionnaire for the prospect to fill out and return. Once a prospect receives such a letter, he can be confident he is “on the list” (somewhere). All these initial letters take the same form and the purpose is to obtain the high school players home address (so mail can be sent to the home address), phone number and email address, as well as numerous pieces of information about the prospect’s academic record and athletic accomplishments.

At this point many prospects mistakenly believe that they are being “recruited”. However all that receiving recruiting letters means is that a prospect is “on the list” and being “evaluated."

The first thing every prospect should do is fill out each and every questionnaire and return it promptly. Failing to fill out the questionnaire might be considered a lack of interest on the part of the prospect. Many times, high school players are eager to fill out the questionnaires of “high profile” Division I schools and then ignore questionnaires of other less high profile institutions. This is a big mistake, because every school that sends you a questionnaire could be a potential scholarship opportunity.

Every prospect should have a “wish-list” of schools he wants to go to. Some of these schools may not send you a questionnaire. That may mean that they just “don’t know about you”. You as a prospect have a very simple task to correct that situation. Simply write a letter to the head coach of every institution you are interested in and let him know of your interest in his university and his football program. Your letter in turn will filter down to the recruiting office and usually generate an initial letter and questionnaire. That may not produce any additional correspondence, but at least you know that the school knows about you.

College coaches find out about prospects in other ways. Alumni of schools recommend players all the time. College coaches pay attention to all state, all conference, all-city teams; they pay attention to statistics; they also pay attention to internet recruiting services, and they pay attention to competitions like combines. Anywhere your name pops up in relation to football is a positive as far as prospecting is concerned.

Remember, you must first be a prospect to be evaluated and next week we will take a closer look at The Evaluation Process.