If you ask 10 high school football players how to get recruited to play college football, you’ll get 10 different answers – and they might all be wrong. The reason is simple: there is no class that teaches football players or their parents how to maximize their exposure to college football programs and help them get discovered. The good news is that learning how to get recruited is the same as learning football – all it takes is knowing the X’s (what NOT to do) plus the O’s (what to do) and practicing those habits on a consistent basis. With the right actions, and the right coach, any player can give themselves the best chance to get into a college program.
Here’s some common misconceptions about college football recruiting that you will want to avoid (the X’s):
High school coaches have one job: to win football games for their school. They don’t get paid based on how many of their players get football scholarships or play in college. Sure, they’ll root for their guys to do well, but they’re not going to call college coaches or get on the road to take a player for college visits. They’re too busy managing their own teams to do that. Many parents of high school players expect their coaches to do this, but they are coaches, not agents.
Avoid this play: don’t expect a high school coach to help a player get into college.
There is no rule against starting the recruiting process much earlier. A good time to begin the process can be freshman year of high school or even 8th grade. College coaches are looking to develop relationships with players earlier and earlier in their football careers to get an inside track at recruiting a player when senior year comes around, so they’ll welcome the chance to do so if the right player comes to them. Coaches are competing with each other to find the right player sooner, so a player who takes the initiative early on helps them get discovered and recruited.
Avoid this play: don’t wait until junior year to contact coaches.
The number of high school football players who are actively recruited by Division I schools and go to college on a full football scholarship are a small minority. Most football players in college who get recruited into the Division II and III levels get in based on a combination of good grades and football. This is because Division III schools cannot offer athletic scholarship money; instead, they offer academic scholarships for student-athletes. This means that players with good grades have a much better chance at getting recruited and getting scholarship money at the Division III level.
Avoid this play: don’t blow off schoolwork. Grades help a player get recruited as much as football ability does.
Now here’s some of the best ways to get recruited and play football in college (the O’s):
It is best to start contact with a coach through an email, as 99% of high school coaches have their email addresses listed publicly on the college’s or university’s website. Coaches will be more likely to respond to a personalized email that uses their name. An email to a coach should include the player’s high school coach contact information so the college coach can reach out to them and set up a time to talk to the player. The email should also include when and where the coach can see the player in action, because college coaches tend to bring a list of athletes they want to watch at a tournament or showcase. That’s the list players who want to get recruited want to get on.
Run this play: email college coaches in freshman year, giving the player’s name, the name of the high school coach, and a list of events the player will participate in so the coach can see them in person.
After an email, the player can reach out and call the coach at their college or university. This can also be accompanied by a handwritten letter that adds a personal touch to the recruiting process and helps the player stand out from others trying to get recruited at the same school. The kinds of interactions that high school players and college coaches can have depends on the time of year and what school the coach is from; there are different rules for Division I, II and III schools. These rules are from the NCAA and should be followed to give a player the best chance at being recruited successfully. To learn more about the recruiting rules for each NCAA division, click here for a list of Division I rules, here for Division II, and here for Division III.
Run this play: once contact is made with a coach, keep reaching out through email, phone, and letters and keep them informed about what’s going on.
It’s important to have people who are familiar with how to get recruited who can help make the right connections. Find a player who has been recruited to the college already and ask them what they did that helped them get there. There are also coaches available who have networks of college football coaches that can help players make the right contacts to get discovered. Look for recruiting-focused events that offer the lowest ratio of coaches to players so that the player gets the most chances possible to be seen by a coach and possibly recruited. The objective is to get in front of as many coaches as possible for as long a time as possible and show them a good work ethic and attitude. That’s what college coaches are looking for.
Run this play: attend recruiting events with the lowest player-to-coach ratio to get the most time in front of the most coaches.