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When It Is Okay to Ask a Coach About a Scholarship

Too many athletes I speak with and whose emails I read are asking coaches about scholarships in the first few emails or phone calls. The only thing this is going to get you, is ignored from that coach. Coaches know athletes want a scholarship, but they also know they only have a limited number to offer and what they really need is athletes willing to play for little or no scholarship money.

This doesn’t mean talking about a scholarship is forbidden, but you need to be sure the coach understands your commitment to the team first and only then approach the topic respectfully.  I recently had an exchange in the comments of my blog about gauging a coaches interest and wanted to share it here as an example of exactly how to approach the topic of talking about scholarships and how to approach recruiting in general.

The athlete in this story is getting recruited by his dream school and while they have had excellent conversations with the coaches, they haven’t received a scholarship offer. The actions below should serve as a checklist of things that should be happening between you and a program before you ask for a scholarship offer.

  • They have made two unofficial visits and talked with coaches each time
  • Attended a game and been on the field
  • Talked with the position coach and head coach before the game
  • He has been given a recruiter to stay in contact with and the contact info for his position coach (offensive line)
  • The team is has sent scouts to his practices and games
  • His position coach has told him he looks forward to coaching him

Despite all of this activity with the coaches and scouts, the athlete hasn’t been offered a scholarship.

Why hasn’t this athlete received an offer yet?

The above type of recruiting activity is a classic situation of a recruit who isn’t quite high enough on the recruiting board to be getting a scholarship offer… yet. The program clearly has interest in the recruit, wants them to play for them next year, but isn’t prepared to offer them a scholarship until they get a decision from a couple other recruits they have ranked ahead of them. This recruit is slightly undersized for the position (6’2” 255lbs) but obviously the coaches see the potential for them to develop into a good college offensive lineman after a year or two.

The parent confirmed my explanation, telling me they know the program is recruiting other high ranking recruits at the position, but they haven’t received a commitment from those athletes.

Now is a good time to bring up a scholarship

Based on what the athlete and parent have told me and the actions of the coaches recruiting them, talking about a scholarship is perfectly acceptable. The athlete should call his recruiting contact and bring up the topic of a scholarship. Here is an example of what they might say, “Coach I know you are also recruiting [name a couple of the athletes] at my position and I understand you have limited scholarships to offer. Your program is my number one choice and I want to do everything I can to play for you next year, but it is important to me and my family to also consider scholarship opportunities. I would like to know if you were planning on offering me a scholarship and what I might be able to do to get an offer.” By making your intentions clear in a respectful way, the coach can choose to respond or not, but you have done your job of letting it known you are looking for a scholarship. After this, you leave the topic alone unless the coaches bring it up.

What can the athlete do to get an offer from this school?

There are really only two things the athlete can do now to try and get an offer. First is wait for the other recruits decisions, but this could take until signing day in February and maybe you want to wrap up your recruiting sooner. Second is turn up the pressure by getting offers from other programs. Continuing to talk to other schools and going through the recruiting process with them is always a good idea if you haven’t made a commitment to a school. You should only be talking to schools you are truly interested in playing for. Do not waste a coach’s time by pretending to be interested in their team only to try and get an offer from another program. It could eventually get back to the coach of that school and with one quick phone call to your top choice school both opportunities will disappear.

What this athlete is going through is an example of exactly how you want to engage in the recruiting process. You can’t control the opportunities that exist at a particular program each year. It is your job as a recruit to do everything you can to put yourself in the best position possible and be prepared with backup opportunities.

Are you having difficulty understanding the recruiting process? Maybe you are trying to get coaches attention or get offers from coaches that just don’t seem to be coming? Leave your questions below in the comments, contact me on twitter or email (my email is available on my Google+ profile).

Are you ready for the NEXT STEP!