Pay Attention to Who is Paying Attention to YOU
Two of the most basic decision-making guidelines in choosing a school/football program are: Go somewhere where you know you can play and Go somewhere where someone wants you.
As a high school player, the fun of playing football is the games. I’ll bet there are less than 1% of you who could honestly say they enjoy the practices as much as the games. Its no different at the college level and so choosing a college football program where a player knows he can get on the field at an early stage of his career is a vital component of the decision-making process. Given that most freshmen red-shirt, looking for an opportunity to be a 3-4 year contributor should be an important part in a high school player’s final decision.
Going somewhere where someone wants you is just as important. At this time of year, that translates into who is recruiting you. All those form letters you have received from Division I schools don’t count unless a coach called you on the telephone during the May evaluation period. Every high school player has his “wish list” and should, but realistically there is another list composed of schools showing interest in you as the prospect.
It is important to go to college summer camps because it not only gives you an opportunity to get to know coaches and see campuses, but it also gives those coaches an opportunity to evaluate you as a player. You have to be realistic when you make decisions on which summer camps to attend.
If you have been fortunate to have been offered a scholarship, you should definitely try to attend that school’s camp. This will help firm up your decision on which school to choose, because making decisions during your fall season is really tough. You have a lot of other things going on, like helping your team to win a championship. If you have multiple offers, you have some decisions to make. Maybe you attend an out of state camp, because you know you won’t be able to go to a game at that school during your fall season. Probably you should rank-order the schools that have offered you, and make some decisions based on priorities. Remember, if a school has already offered you a scholarship and you go to their camp, they will probably be looking for a verbal commitment once camp is over.
If you haven’t been offered yet, you should pay attention to which schools called you on the phone during May. That phone call shows a much higher level of interest on their part than all those form letters combined. A school wouldn’t have called you if they weren’t interested and they want you to come to camp, so they can see first hand your abilities and work habits, and decide whether they want to offer you or wait until they see tape of your senior year. After camp, make sure you ask your position coach for feedback. You deserve to know where you stand.
If you haven’t been offered and you haven’t been called, perhaps its time for some reassessment. You may have been receiving a bunch of recruiting form letters, which means you are merely on the mailing list. Those schools may or may not have evaluated you on tape. At this point your decision on camps comes down to whom would you like to impress the most. A solid camp performance could get you on the radar screen for the fall. Do some research. What schools are on your wish list? Which schools need players at your position? Who has an offensive or defensive scheme that fits your ability? Many Division I schools employ coaches from 1AA, Division II and III to work their camp. Maybe that Division I school isn’t recruiting you, but can pass your name along to their contacts at lower level. Finally if you aren’t being recruited very heavily, the one-day mini camps are your best bet. You get a lot more exposure by attending a series of one-day camps than you do by parking somewhere for 3-5 days. The costs of attending the one-day camps are all time and transportation, but consider it as an investment in your future. Regardless of what colleges say, the minicamps are all about evaluation and recruiting.
Finally make sure you maximize your opportunity. Get plenty of rest, eat right, hydrate yourself, and ….compete!