The Truth Behind Really Early Scholarship Offers

college coaches recruiting junior high athletesEvery 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.

If you have any questions about recruiting or would like some help in identifying potential schools you can contact me or on Twitter and Facebook.

11 Responses to “The Truth Behind Really Early Scholarship Offers”

  1. Mellonee Morris

    Hello my name is Mellonee Morris and my daughter Lezlie is 5″8 LHP/Hitter .426/1st Base. She is a junior and when she reads and hear that an eight grader is getting seen or verbal makes her upset. My child a 16 year old states that she only reached her goals after turning 16. When young girls are being recruited for softball at 7th,8th, and 9th grade they are not developed. Lezlie is strong and now ready for a DI level but at 13 she hadn’t developed into her body. Schools should really think that through more. Do what you say which is junior year.

  2. catherine


  3. I have a son that was in the 11 th grade this last year he squats480 dead lifts about the same has been named ddefence player of the game and name in the paper for leading the defence in tackles.he also got onrable mention and most improved player at athletic banquet. still no offers but he still has a year to go he is 5’7 -225 lbs no fat he lives in the weight room.just wondering how someone like this could get passed over?? He plays 4A ball

    • David Frank

      Every year hundreds of qualified athletes go undiscovered. It would be pure speculation on my part as to why this happened for your son in particular. At this point I would recommend he starting emailing coaches to ensure his name is getting out there. He should include contact info for his coach, his highlight video and summary of academic info.

      Let me know if you have particular questions about how our site works and how we help athletes get exposure to coaches.

  4. John Pace

    After going thru the recruting process with my son I was shocked at the reverse racism I found at the D-1 college recruiting level as it pretains to RB’s and DB’s. Yes the coaches may make an effort to talk to you but 90% of the time they will opt for a slower less talented black athlete. I am lost as to there thinking. Out of frustration my son signed with a D-1 track program. Will you honestly address the uphill battle the white athlete has during the recruiting process with D-1 schools. Now I’m talking RB’s And DB’s. I don’t want to start a race war I only think the white athlete needs to know what he is up against and the frustrations he will go thru, also is it even worth it. This is reality, I’m interested if other white dads have experienced this.

    • David Frank

      John, I appreciate your respectful comment on a very sensitive issue. I allowed your comment (we usually don’t on sensitive topics) because it is an issue that we have heard raised by other families. In my experience, there is always a lot that goes in to these situations and while the outward appearance might be easily related to race, it doesn’t tell 100% of the story. I’m not saying you were right or wrong, only my experience in these situations with several families.

      Again thank you for your comment and I think it is important that families hear from other families who have had success in recruiting, especially at the elite DI level.

    • Very interesting post and sadly absolutely accurate. My son had a similar experience but luckily for him, he had a fall back sport. He was the starting fullback on a top nationally ranked prep school team, where all of the players with the exception of my son were recruited. When the starting tailback went down with a serious hamstring injury during the second game of the season, he stepped in and scored five touchdowns breaking several long runs. He went on to lead his team (1700 yards and 17 TDs) to the State title of the top ranked conference in the Mid-Atlantic. Despite being the consensus fastest player on the field (per both his own and opposing coaches, film and the track times), college scouts kept saying he lacked breakaway speed. The funny thing is Nike had flown him out to their Oregon HQ a Top 50 prospects camp in another sport (lacrosse), where he was awarded the top athlete award (based on combine SPARQ results). It all ended up fine though because he used his 1400 SAT (2 part) score and his lacrosse skills to get a lacrosse scholarship (unfortunately not full) from one of the best sports and academic schools in the nation. As a parent, I’m also happy because its a safer sport.

  5. Anonymous

    I have an athlete that has been told by several coaches that he can play for them but the one team he wants to play for the coach won’t even give him a try out. Is this normal for a college coach to not hold tryouts for walk ons, or to not want/need walk ons?

    • David Frank

      Yes. It all depends on the program and the recruiting for that year, but some coaches simply do not offer walk-on opportunities. Depending on the types of responses your son has been getting, it might be worth continuing to inquire about an opportunity or it could be time to move on.

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