Story: Handling the May Telephone Calls

By Randy Rodgers : 9th In A Series

With the first of May right around the corner, the recruiting process for Division I football takes a slightly different turn. More things are happening and prospects should be aware of them.

The Spring Evaluation period, which began April 15, will continue. Division I staffs are allowed to select four weeks out of a total of six to complete their spring evaluations. That period ends May 31. Each school is allowed to evaluate a prospect twice, of which one has to be on the prospectís high school campus. The other can be at a track meet, baseball game, or weekend combine or camp. Prospects should be aware that the weekend evaluation can only be on a Saturday, not a Sunday. So if you are a prospect looking ahead to an event such as a Nike Football Training Camp, the Ann Arbor, Athens, and Stanford camps will have college coaches in attendance. The Sunday camps will not.

Telephone calls are a part of the May landscape. In May, each college can call a prospect on the telephone once. Mom and Dad, realize that the coach who calls, wants to visit with your son. While you certainly have a lot of questions, if your son is not home, and you talk for any length with a college coach, that will count as his one phone call. NCAA rules prohibit him from calling back. The prospect can always call the coach and with the numerous free cell phone plans available in the evening, that isnít usually a problem. So USE YOUR CELL PHONE!

Prospects: if you think you are going to get a significant number of phone calls, stay home in the evenings, or at least establish a time you will be there, so the coaches can reach you. If you have a part time job, that requires you to work, just make sure your parents communicate that to calling coaches. Coaches understand that many kids have jobs and they will work around that. Having an answering machine is another good thing.

What is the purpose of the May phone call?

From the college perspective the coach really wants to know if the prospect likes his school. No doubt the prospect has been on the mailing list for some time, getting bombarded with all kinds of propaganda. All that recruiting mail is marketing-related and designed to create a favorable image of a particular school. The coach is really wanting to know if it has worked. He is likely to ask if his school is in the prospectís top five choices. He is also likely to ask what other schools the prospect likes, so that he can determine the competition. (Unless the prospect already has several scholarship offers, he should make sure his response to the first question is positiveóNo sense eliminating anybody until you have a scholarship in hand.) The coach will also likely encourage the prospect to attend the schoolís summer camp.

From the prospectís perspective, you want to know where you stand. Is the school offering you a scholarship based on your junior tape and spring evaluation? How many players is the school recruiting at your position? How many other players have already been offered? If you donít have a scholarship offer, will there be a chance of getting one if you attend the schoolís camp? Remember prospects, that coach wouldnít be calling you on the phone if he wasnít interested in you. They donít call everybody!

By mid-May you should have fielded most of your calls and based on the interest and the feedback you have received , you should be able to accurately select the camp or camps you plan to attend. Pay attention to who pays attention to you. All those recruiting letters you have been receiving wonít count for much if no coach calls you on the phone.

If you donít receive calls from the schools you are most interested in, you have to realize that maybe those schools are interested in you. That is a real hard part of recruiting to understand. Just because you have received a ton of letters, doesnít mean that you are being recruited. It simply means you were on the list until somebody had a chance to evaluate you as a player and student. The end of May may be a time to readjust your college football goals and turn your attention to another level of competition other than Division I. There are lots of tremendous academic opportunities at Division II and Division III that also involve playing football.