Colleges and universities from all over will hound you with letters and calls to choose their school as the place to extend your athletic career. But you can’t commit just because they came calling. Keeping in mind that you’ll spend the next four years of your life there, articulate to yourself exactly what you’d like out of your college experience; then decide which school can best fulfill your wish list. This means assessing yourself, and the coach you could potentially play for, to the nth degree.
Setting lofty athletic goals is important, but would you be happy if you just make the squad? Say you’re a 5’11, 210-pound offensive guard who runs a 5.1 40, and a MAC school offers you a partial scholly. Do you think you’ll get enough playing time to make you truly happy with that team? Or, would you rather accept a full scholarship from a D-II, and get the opportunity to start every game by your sophomore season?
Using the school’s website or media guide, measure your physical tools against a team’s current roster. Check out each player’s position, hometown, age, height, weight and athletic profile, including their high school accomplishments [All- State, All-Conference, State Champs, etc.]. This will help you gauge the level of ability the team recruits.
Physical Attributes: What is your size compared to others at your position?
Position: Find out how many people on the squad play your position to know whom you’ll compete against.
Geography: Does the coach recruit nationally, or just go after in-state talent?
Transfers: Is the roster littered with JUCO transfers? They’re generally more experienced and more prepared to play than recent high school graduates.
The High School Athlete’s Guide to College Sports: How to Market Yourself to the School of Your Dreams recommends asking yourself these questions to assess your ability level:
• How have you performed at major events, such as showcases, tournaments, meets and state or national championships?
• Do you know of any college athletes with abilities similar to yours?
• Do you possess impressive physical attributes? A coach might recruit you if he believes that you’ll develop into a great athlete within the next two or three years.
• Do you possess the leadership skills necessary to compete in college?
• Do you play for competitive summer or club leagues?
Coach ’s Interest
No athlete wants to be at a school where he isn’t wanted, and sometimes coaches—just to leave you with a positive feeling or because they don’t want you to go elsewhere—will mention the opportunity to walk on. Make sure you know that the coach truly believes in your athletic ability before picking his school. And when one coach tells you to walk on and another offers you a scholly, the coach offering you money obviously believes more in your ability.
Choosing between offers is just one situation when you’ll need to gauge each coach’s interest and commitment to you. Being mailed questionnaires, getting calls from coaches and receiving texts are a few others. Note the various ways a coach contacts you and what each one means. A general rule of thumb: the more a coach personally contacts you, the more serious he is.
Coach noticed you:
• Mailed a questionnaire to fill out and return
• Mailed a summer camp application
• On the school’s athletic mailing list
Coach is interested in you:
• All of the above
• Calls your high school coach
• Comes to see you play
• Emails you regularly
• Mails you a media guide and school information
Coach is very interested:
• All of the above
• Sends text messages
• Sets up phone conversation with you
• Sees you play more than once
Coach is committed:
• All of the above
• Sets up regular phone calls
• Invites you to make an official or unofficial visit
• Offers you a scholarship
To Walk On or Not?
Controlling Your Recruiting Opportunities
Receiving Financial Aid
Division & Sport Breakdown
Academic Eligibility Requirements
Getting Noticed by College Coaches
Communicating with a College Coach