You're a football player whose senior year of high school is drawing to an end, and you're planning to head off to college. But before you finalize your plans, think about this. Going to college right away may not be the best option for you, especially as an athlete. You might benefit more by holding off college for a year to attend a post-grad program.
Here are a few athletes whose names you may recognize who attended post-grad prep schools and went on to have athletic success in college and the pros.
- Eddie George (1995 Heisman winner): attended Fork Union Military Academy for post-grad.
- Vinny Testaverde (All-American, 1986 Heisman winner): also attended Fork Union Military Academy for post-grad.
- Larry Kelley (1936 Heisman winner): attended Peddie School for post-grad.
- Tony Woods (former NFL linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, and Washington Redskins): attended Seton Hall Preparatory School for post-grad.
What exactly is post-grad prep school?
A post-grad prep school, simply put, provides another year of secondary school before moving on to college. It is considered a fifth year of high school. Athletes do not lose their college playing eligibility like they do by playing at the junior college level. Some schools, like East Coast Prep and Jireh Prep, allow students to graduate in December and declare them eligible for college in January. This makes an athlete more attractive to college coaches and helps him get acclimated to college before fall practice begins.
It's hard to argue with the results. East Coast Prep sent football players from this year's team to the University of Illinois, Marshall University, and Western Michigan University. In the past few years, Jireh Prep has sent athletes to West Virginia, Syracuse, Wake Forest, San Diego State and Colorado State, to name a few.
Reasons why athletes choose post-grad prep school
Some athletes have GPA or core class requirements to fill, and others need to improve their ACT or SAT scores. For the 2013 football season, Jireh Prep brought in 43 athletes who weren't qualified to play at a four-year school. As of today, 35 of them are fully qualified, and eight are waiting on test scores to find out the status of their eligibility. Jireh Prep head coach Scott McConnell credits the school's strong test prep lessons and fully accredited curriculum for the success of his student-athletes.
2. No offers. Now what?
Some players just need time to get a little better. Skill development is a huge focus for these schools. They don't have high school or NCAA time restraints and they are able to spend ample time on weight training and field practice to develop their athletes.
3. Damaged Goods
College coaches can pull a scholarship offer or never extend one to an injured athlete. A year of post-grad allows the athlete to recover, build his strength back and show coaches he is 100 percent healthy.
4. I Played Quarterback in High School
High school athletes are put in position to help their team win, not necessarily the best place for them to get recruited or succeed at the college level. The most common position change involves former high school quarterbacks. The quarterback is often the best athlete on his team. He might be 5-foot-9 with great footwork and a knack for making plays. But it can be tough for a college coach to project where this athlete might succeed in college. A post-grad program can help him prove he can play another position.
The future of post-grad football
There's no telling how big post-grad football can become. According to East Coast Prep Director of Operations Dick Bell, the school has received 900 applications for the 2014 season and has only 55 spots available. Other prep schools report similar numbers. These schools will continue to grow, and more programs will pop up. The market is too big for it not to happen.
Interested? Here are some post-grad schools and their locations.
- What Athletes Need to Know About Playing D-I Sports
- Must-Know NCAA Recruiting Rules and Regulations
- 8 Ways NCAA Recruiting Rules Have Changed
- College Football Recruits: 5 Strategies to Get Noticed
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