Every year there are stories of scholarship offers made to 7th, 8th and 9th graders. This year has been especially busy with stories showing up every few days. Recruiting companies (we are guilty of this as well) love to use this as a selling point that you must start the recruiting process early! While the recruiting process does start before high school, the goal shouldn’t be a scholarship offer before high school. In this article, I am going to dispel some of the myths around early scholarship offers, why they happen and what they really mean.
What Early Offers and Commitments Mean
The most important thing to remember when hearing of an athlete “getting a scholarship” before they are a senior in high school is that the offer is unofficial. This means the school doesn’t have to provide a written offer come senior year. Most of the time schools honor their commitment, but there are several reasons an offer might not materialize; the coach leaves, the recruit changes their mind, you get injured, they get a commitment from am recruit they think is better.
“I had everything figured out and it was pulled out from under my feet, but I’ve picked myself up and won’t let this bring me down.” – Daniel Gresham (SMU commit who lost his offer from Texas when coach Mack Brown resigned)
This isn’t to say a verbal commitment isn’t worth anything. The majority of college coaches and athletes honor their commitments. However, as you get to the bigger programs, especially at the elite DI level, verbal offers and commitments have come to mean very little.
“We just keep recruiting until the first Wednesday in February every year, that’s all you can do.” – Angus McClure (UCLA defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator)
Why Are Scholarship Offers Made to Junior High Athletes
If an unofficial offer doesn’t have to be honored why are they made? If you will believe the coaches, they say it is because they have to offer early or they will lose the recruit. Athletes like to commit early because it gives them a sense of security that an offer is there waiting for them. The other reason is simple, publicity. For example, how else would Maine’s Men’s Hockey team get national coverage? They take a very talented young hockey player who is already famous on YouTube, and they get free publicity for their program; regardless of if the athlete actually signs with them in 7 years or not.
Why You Should Start the Recruiting Process Early
If only the top .001% of recruits are going to get offers in junior high, then it might seem unnecessary to start the recruiting process that early. That depends on what you define as starting the recruiting process. At Athnet, the recruiting process means things like;
- Educating yourself on rules and requirements
- Understanding the role of academics and athletics
- Thinking about the types of schools you might be interested in
- Talking with high school and club team coaches about your goals coming into high school
Recruiting in Junior High doesn’t mean you are emailing and calling coaches every week trying to get noticed. It means you and your family are preparing for the journey.