NCAA College Football Recruiting
There are more athletes, coaches and camps involved in football recruiting than any other recruiting process at the college level. There are just over 80,000 football players at the college level with only 14,000 of those playing at the NCAA D1 level. That might sound like a lot, but with over 1.1 million high school football players you can see how difficult it is for a college coach to find every qualified athlete, evaluate them and recruit them.
What You Must Have to Start the Football Recruiting Process
Coaches are restricted from contacting athletes until their junior year of high school. However, many football recruits are well into the recruiting process and have been communicating with coaches for years before there junior year of high school. The way they are able to do that is by being proactive in the recruiting process, contacting coaches on their own, creating an online profile and attending camps and combines. However, before you go contacting coaches asking them to recruit you, you need to know coaches look for the same basic information for each recruit before they even consider recruiting them:
Highlight Video and Full-Game Film
If you are expecting a coach to just show up at your game to watch you for the first time, you will be waiting a longtime. Every recruit worth a coach’s time has a highlight video online so a coach can make a quick evaluation of them. As an added bonus you should have a full-game film available to send upon request.
Verified Combine Stats
There is a reason professional football players can shoot up the draft boards with a strong performance at the combine; coaches know how those exercises translate into football ability. College coaches need to see your 40 time, board jump, vertical, 5-10-5 shuttle, bench and squat numbers. These numbers need to come from a verified source like the hundreds of combines run each year. Find out more about attending football camps or combines here.
Your Contact Information, Game Schedule and Summer Camp List
The last part to getting started is having your contact information available to coaches along with a complete list of your upcoming games and camps where they can watch you.
Having all of the above information isn’t that hard, but getting it out to the right coaches and better yet, having it found by coaches can only happen if it is online. 95% of college football coaches say the recruiting process begins online. You can be found by coaches looking online by getting your free profile. All you need to do is click on the parent or athlete button on the left.
How Each Position is Recruited in College Football
Quarterbacks are the leaders of a football team, and coaches are more likely to offer a scholarship to a quarterback. It is important for a quarterback, more than any other position, to find a system that fits your skills. Are you a big, strong pocket-passer with a good arm? You should research colleges that run a pro-style offense. If you are a quarterback that likes to run and you have more speed and athleticism, you should start your college search by looking for teams that run a spread offense. Coaches tend to take most of their time recruiting several quarterbacks and will need to see you several times before considering making you an offer.
Coaches consider speed and size above all else when looking at running back recruits. Those that possess both size and speed are able to come in and contribute right away. Smaller, faster running backs should consider teams that run a spread offense. Pro-style offenses look for bigger running backs and those with a better balance of speed and power. It is not uncommon for coach a coach to recruit you if you are a running back and ask you to move to another position to play at the college level. As a running back you can really improve your chances of getting recruited by having strong combine numbers.
Size and speed are crucial for a receiver to be recruited. The two main types of receiver coaches recruit are big play and possession receivers. Big-play receivers spread the field and are larger and more athletic. Possession receivers are good at getting open on shorter routes and picking up first downs. Big, fast receivers are highly sought after, and can come into a program and make an immediate impact. Smaller receivers can find recruiting opportunities by presenting themselves as slot and possession receivers and being willing to do whatever it takes to make the team.
Tackles are the big guys on offense. Coaches look to recruit athletes with large frames that can develop once they get to campus. It is very rare that a tackle comes in and plays a true freshman. More than any other position, coaches look to recruit on potential. Coaches are willing to work and help you develop because you will be responsible for protecting a quarterback’s blind spots from the pass rush and for containing and sealing off defenders when run blocking. If you don’t have the size or frame to be a college tackle, consider moving to another position.
Offensive Guard and Centers
Guards and centers are usually smaller and more athletic than tackles. For this reason, some undersized high school tackles might make the transition to center or guard for the college level. You will usually need to be faster than tackles because you have to “pull” to the outside when run blocking. Coaches will recruit you for potential size and strength to build on and develop, similar to tackles. As a high school offensive lineman, show yourself as able to play anywhere on the line and you can boost your chances of playing in college.
Tight ends are usually the most versatile athlete on the field. They are responsible for both blocking and receiving. Tight ends have the size of a smaller offensive lineman, and the speed of a bigger receiver. Coaches will expect you to out run linebackers and overpower defensive backs, all while being an extra blocker during run plays. Tight ends are heavily recruited because of their versatility is hard to find. Scholarships go to tight ends that can encompass all of these aspects into their game.
These are the big guys on the defensive front. It may take you awhile to develop the size and speed necessary to compete at the collegiate level. Just like their offensive counterparts, defensive tackle recruits are usually going to take a couple years to develop and be college ready. You will need to have a body that can hold a lot of weight, or you may be moved to another position.
Defensive ends are both strong and fast. You will need to overpower bigger offensive tackles, and still have the speed to chase down opposing running backs and quarterbacks. The best defensive ends can beat you with both size and speed. Coaches recruit athletes that are able to create separation with their size and speed to get around the corner and put pressure on the quarterback. Defensive ends are among the most athletic football players out there and most highly sought after recruits.
Linebacker is another position where you must possess extreme athleticism. You must be fast enough to cover receivers, running backs and tight ends, and also strong enough to shed blockers. You have to be aggressive and enjoy contact to compete as a linebacker. Coaches like to develop linebackers and will recruit you based on potential and ability to grow into the athlete they need. It is very common for a program to recruit someone as a pure athlete and convert them into a linebacker.
Coaches recruit athleticism over experience when looking for a defensive back. If you are fast and athletic coaches may be interested in recruiting you and moving you to defensive back. Your primary responsibility as a defensive back is to cover receivers on pass plays, but the best corners and safeties provide good support against the run game. Because of the leadership role a safety has on defense, many programs look for junior college transfer at this position.
Colleges are likely to offer scholarships to only the best kickers and punters. Many times coaches leave this position open going into spring camp and will offer a scholarship to the best walk-on at the position. If you are a kicker, be prepared to have to walk-on and earn your spot in spring ball.
Being cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center is a required step before getting a scholarship.
Author: David Frank