College Football Recruiting -
How It Works
and Helpful College Football Scholarship Hints

Demystifying the College Football Recruiting Process

College Football Recruiting Explained

Are you a high school football player looking to get recruited for college football? Although football is one of the most competitive NCAA sports in the country, you still have a shot at being recruited if you familiarize yourself with the process and take the right steps to connect with college coaches. Learn more about the college football recruitment process and create your own website to help you stand out from your competition. Keep reading to learn more.

Or do you?

If you happen to be big, more athletic than the next guy, play a unique position really well, or be incredibly strong or fast, well, those odds jump. There is a lot of money in college football, but if you're going to go after one of those scholarships, you have to understand the 'game' of the recruiting process, and learn the rules. According to ESPN, NCAA payouts are on the rise (be prepared to pick your jaw up off the floor when you read that article). So keep reading - what have you got to lose?

The College Football Recruiting Process: a Step-by-Step Guide

College Football Recruiting Unofficially Begins in 8th Grade or Freshmen Year. For the most elite D1 schools, the recruiting process began years ago. For others, it's not too late, as long as your talent, size, and in some cases, grades are in range with your target schools, and you have a way to get through to college coaches. We can help you with the latter.

Initial contact from coach. The official college football recruiting process begins either with an initial contact from the coach in the form of a “nonathletic recruitment publication” such as a "form" email about a camp, flyer, brochure, or questionnaire, or an email sent from a player or recruiting service to a coach. If you receive an email from a coach, you should know that a college football coach and his recruiting team might send out hundreds or even thousands of these materials, depending on the size and funding level of the university’s football program. If you receive one of these emails or letters and it includes a questionnaire, it’s in your best interest to fill out the questionnaire and send it back quickly. But don't think that just because a coach sent you an email that he's stronhly interested in you. Early in the process, they cast a wide net, and narrow their sights as they move through sophomore and junior year.

Base evaluations. Next, the college football recruiting coach will begin assessing athletes by conducting additional research. Typically, the coach is not allowed (according to NCAA guidelines) to contact athletes directly this early in the recruitment process, so he will look online for information about athletes and start contacting high school coaches. Therefore, it is important that you build a positive relationship with your high school coach because without doubt, he will receive at least one phone call about you. The university coach will consider athletic performance as well as an athlete’s coachability, test scores, GPA, game statistics, and performance records. If video footage is available, the coach will almost certainly watch it. He might begin to rank all potential athletes to evenly compare a number of potential recruits for his football team.

Personal contact. Next, the recruiting coach and football player will make personal contact by phone or in person. Depending on NCAA requirements, the coach may be able to initiate contact with the athlete; if not, the athlete can initiate contact with the coach. At this point, both the player and coach get a better understanding of each other and can assess things like character, attitude, and details regarding the university’s football program. Phone calls and visitations from the college football recruiting coach may continue (up to six times before the player signs) as both the player and coach get to know each other.

Campus visit. Next, the football player and coach will arrange an official campus visit. Campus visits help both the coach and the player assess whether the school and team are right “fits,” while also exposing the athlete the university and team. Many D1 schools pay for airfare and accommodations, and a Division 1 potential recruit can make up to 5 official visits. If the campus visit goes well, the typical next step is either a follow-up visit or the extension of an offer from the football coach to the high school player.

Unique Features of the Football Recruitment Process

As one of the most competitive NCAA sports, college football has a number of unique features which makes recruiting for football different than for other NCAA sports. Some key features which distinguish college football recruiting include:

Initial contact: According to NCAA rules, Division I football coach can send out “nonathletic recrtruiting materials” during your sophomore year; no personal contact can be initiated by the coach during sophomore year.

Recruitment periods. Division I football recruitment intensifies during your junior year, when coaches are allowed to start sending you official recruiting materials. Unlike other NCAA sports, however, the start date for coaches to initiate phone calls with you is not until the spring of your junior year. Every college football coach is allowed to call you one time from April 15 through May 31 of your junior year, and the coach can’t initiate any more calls until your senior year. There are also very specific limits on how and when a coach may initiate contact you during your senior year. View the NCAA’s college-bound athlete guide for further information or contact us for details.

Campus visits: Although you can make an unlimited amount of unofficial visits during select timeframes during your sophomore and junior years, you can’t make an official campus visit until your senior year.

Commitments: During an athlete’s senior year, he typically submits a letter of intent between April and August. This letter indicates the athlete’s commitment to a university and its sports program.

Subdivisions: As you probably already know, NCAA Division I college football is broken up into special divisions: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivison (FCS). Although there are a number of differences that distinguish these two divisions, the key factor impacting the recruitment process in particular is the amount and type of scholarships given by FBS and FCS coaches. FBS coaches are granted 85 full scholarships which they offer to athletes as full scholarships; FCS coaches are granted 63 full scholarships which they are allowed to offer as partial scholarships. Both subdivisions are allowed no more than 85 players per team. See the 2015-2016 NCAA Division I manual for more information.

Whereas some coaches say that they trust recruiting agencies' judgements and will take a look at the athletes sent their way, others say that they "immediately delete emails" from college football recruiting agencies and consider them “equivalent to spam.”


The Role of Recruiting Agencies

Because the football recruitment process is highly competitive and complex, recruiting agencies have stepped up to try and assist both coaches and high school players. These agencies claim that they can connect you with the right coaches and help you get recruited to a football program fit for your skill level.

However, the success rate and value of these agencies is debated, and adoption among coaches is inconsistent -- ultimately meaning that the agencies can’t reach every single NCAA football coach. Whereas some coaches say that they “trust [agencies’] judgements and will take a look at the athletes sent our way,” others say that they immediately delete emails from agencies and consider them “equivalent to spam.” Furthermore, remember that it’s impossible for an agency to know you better than you know yourself.

With this in mind, one of the best steps you can take in the college football recruitment process is to create your own online profile. If you take the time to create your own online athlete profile with detailed information, you can ensure that you’re easily accessible to coaches -- while also impressing them with your initiative and dedication. An online profile should include all basic athletic and academic information and records, as well as video clips. For help setting up your own online athlete profile, contact us.

Why Do I Need an Online Profile?

  •   For team sports like football, the recruiting process can be subjective because hard metrics don’t exist as clearly as they do for individual sports. Thus, you should aim to make your online profile a clear representation of your athletic strengths and achievements for coaches to easily find. Make sure to include common statistics such as position, height, weight, bench press, squat, and vertical -- as well as additional information about what makes you unique as a player and a description of the level of competition you face within your league. It’s also helpful to include features like a personal statement or team/league recognitions and achievements.

Lastly, remember that coaches may not consider athletes from smaller high schools as closely as those from larger high schools, because larger high schools simply have more athletes and thus higher levels of competition. With this in mind, it’s especially important that football players from smaller high schools do everything they can to establish a thorough, convincing online profile. The objective of your profile should be to put your best foot forward and make it easy for college coaches to say “yes.”

Why Should I Include Grades and Test Scores Within My Profile?

Even in a sport as competitive as football, grades still matter. The NCAA holds college football coaches to certain GPA requirements, and because of this, they seek out players who have strong academic backgrounds. For example, if a coach is considering two identical football players during the recruitment process and one has a 3.0 GPA and the other has a 2.4 GPA, the coach will most likely make an offer to the athlete with the 3.0. Note that high school students must maintain a 2.3 GPA to compete during their freshman year of college for Division I sports. For more information, visit the NCAA’s website.

Because test scores and grades are important to college coaches, you need to make sure to include them within your online profile. When completing your profile, be sure that your sensitive information is password protected -- something we always do at Athletics Recruiting.


The college football recruitment process can be very intimidating, but it’s also very exciting. Once you learn about the process and set up a solid online profile, you’ll be well on your way to a smooth recruitment process. Start now and look forward to connecting personally with the right coaches, from teams with rosters that match your physical size.

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