If you start the college recruiting process during your senior year of high school, there is a good chance the only sports you'll play in college will be intramurals. College coaches are identifying potential recruits much earlier these days. Some high profile sports make verbal offers as early as middle school.
Realistically, a high school athlete and his parents should start thinking about the recruiting process during the athlete’s freshman year of high school. You should become familiar with how the recruiting process works and understand the definition of recruiting terms such as contact period, evaluation period, and dead period; the rules related to official and unofficial visits; and the NCAA recruiting calendar.
Unless you are already sought-after, start identifying schools which are a good fit during your sophomore year, and reach out to those programs by sending an email, filling out the school recruiting questionnaire, and attending camps that the schools either host or will attend.
Your junior year is perhaps the most important year in the process. It’s a common occurrence for college coaches to send out verbal offers and accept for a graduating class as early as 18 months before you leave for college. As a junior, reach out to schools that meet your criteria and get your current coaches involved. You may not initially hear back from many of the schools, but be patient and persistent. If you are realistic about your athletic abilities and you have good grades, by reaching out to appropriate schools and involving your current coach, you will find a place to play in college.
Consider the following:
- A 6'4'' shooting guard from California committed to Kentucky before actually knowing which high school he wanted to attend.
- In 2006, a basketball player committed to USC before ever playing a high school game.
- An 8th grade quarterback from Delaware was promised a scholarship when he was in 7th grade, only 13 years old.
- An 8th grade football player from Baton Rouge, Louisiana was offered a scholarship from a Division I program.
College recruiting grows more competitive each year. As a potential recruit, this is something you must accept and embrace. It is never too early to start preparing for the college recruiting process, but if you really want to earn a college scholarship, it might be too late if you wait until your senior year in high school!