One of the most important duties of a head coach is to help the players that have the ability and desire, to get college scholarships. There are several hundred schools at six different levels that offer some type of football scholarships. As a former college coach, I have the knowledge of knowing what these schools are looking for, as well as their scholarships and financial aid opportunities. This knowledge helps the player to be placed where he can both achieve a higher level of education, and be an asset to the school’s athletics.
The first and foremost aspect in college recruiting is to be realistic in the level of football a player can play at. Very, very few high school players are major college prospects but there are many other opportunities at the I-AA, II, III, NAIA, and Junior College levels. A coach must evaluate the talent of the individual and concentrate on the level that they can play at. Once the highlight has been sent out, it takes this aspect completely out of the HS coach’s hands. Now it is the recruiter who will decide if the player can play at their level or not. The HS coach will lose all credibility with the recruiter if he tries to push a player that can’t play at their level.
Highlight films are done using the HUDL Scouting Software. A highlight is not an average play that a player should make. It is 3-4 minutes of the “Take your breath away” plays that create a highlight. When completed, the highlights will be attached to a website link and emailed to all coaches throughout the country. I will also promote all players via online scouting agencies, recruiting fairs, talking with college coaches that visit, calling college coaches, and showing film of players to college coaches. Two major recruiting services that I will send film to are Collegiate Sports Data and LRS. These are the two services that almost every school in the country subscribes to. Films are also sent to Scout.com, ESPN, Rivals.com, Georgia Preps and National Athlete as well as uploaded to YouTube.
The recruitment of major college prospects begins in January of their junior year. I will send their highlight tape out to about 120 colleges at that time so any interested colleges can come by and see them during the spring evaluation period (Mid-April through end of May). The highlight films on I-AA prospects are sent out to about 60 colleges by mid-February of their junior year. The highlight films on Division II prospects are sent out by October of their senior year. The Division III and NAIA schools do the majority of their recruiting after the season is finished. It is important to put the highlight at the beginning of the video to catch the recruiter’s eye and put a full game behind it.
To receive a scholarship a player must meet the initial eligibility requirements. NCAA Division I, Division II, and NAIA have different sets of eligibility requirements. The NCAA computes a core GPA from 16 classes that are different from the regular high school GPA. These classes come from the following areas: 4 credits in English, 3 credits in Math (Algebra I or Higher), 2 credits in Natural or Physical Science (Biology I or higher), 2 credits in Social Studies, 1 additional credit from English, Math, or Science and 4 additional credits from any area listed above. I will start tracking prospects from their sophomore year to make sure they are taking the correct core classes. You cannot wait until the fall semester of their senior year to check their NCAA core GPA. All college prospects will take the ACT/SAT in the fall of their junior year. You will have a better chance at scholarships if your players regularly meet the initial eligibility requirements.
A very big part of small college recruiting (Division II, III, and NAIA) is the financial aid process. This is started by filling out the FAFSA form. This can be a confusing and frustrating process. I will explain this process to the student athlete and their parents and walk them through each stage to make sure they get their papers in by the deadlines. I will meet with each prospect and their parents on an individual basis to help them understand the whole recruiting process before it begins. Each situation is different and each family has different expectations. With realistic goals and everyone on the same page working together, the recruiting process can be a great experience for everyone and can continue a great tradition for our high school program.