Story: The Recruiting Process Starts For Juniors

By Randy Rodgers : 1st In A Series

With National Signing Day in the rear view mirror, major college football programs now turn their attention full time to high school junior prospects. While the juniors have been on the radar since last September 1, college coaches can now focus on the Class of 2006 with the seniors safely locked up. The long courtship that culminates with high profile media coverage moves into full swing. Over the next several weeks we are going to look at different aspects of this recruiting process as juniors and their parents move into the mainstream of college football recruiting.

If you polled every high school junior football player in the country, most all of them would say that they want to play college football. While the reality is that less than 3-percent will actually receive scholarships, those facts escape the hopes and dreams of most 16-17 year olds. In fact, every one of them will fit into one of four scenarios.

Scenario No.1: A player gets plenty of recruiting mail from Division I colleges, gets phone calls from college coaches, attends summer football camps, makes recruiting trips during his senior year, gets offered scholarships, and signs with someone. That is clearly the dream of every aspiring high school football player.

Scenario No. 2: On the other extreme is that a player never plays another down of football after his last game in high school. He gets hurt, he doesn’t make good enough grades, he gets in trouble, he loses interest, or he just doesn’t get recruited. In all cases, he must get on with his life, like the rest of us who have “real” jobs. In reality, this is the scenario that happens to a vast majority of teenagers who are high school football players.

In between these two scenarios are 1A and 1B, both of which involve the desire to play college football, but don’t include that full scholarship at the Division I level.

Scenario 1A: A player has the desire to play Division I football, but doesn’t receive a scholarship. He must then attempt to play in Division I as a non-scholarship player, a.k.a. a “walk-on”. That involves being capable of being academically admitted to the college at which you want to walk-on, not necessarily a slam-dunk, unless you are a very good student. You face the same admission requirements that all students who want to attend that university. It also requires you and/or your parents paying for the cost of your education until which point you “earn” a scholarship, if you ever do.

Scenario 1B: A player has the desire to play college football, but doesn’t get recruited by a Division I school and doesn’t want to walk-on. This player is usually more realistic about his playing career and chooses to attend a Division I-AA, II, or III school or perhaps a junior college. In many cases that player can receive a partial scholarship that may include not only financial assistance from the football team, but also some type of financial aid from governmental programs, loans, or on-campus jobs. In many cases these players can receive the equivalent of a full scholarship from a variety of sources.

If you are a parent reading this article, remember that every child attends college on some type of scholarship — either the “mom and dad” scholarship or somebody else’s.

Before we turn our attention to the Division I recruiting process, we are going to take an in-depth look at each of these scenarios in the next few of weeks.