Updated: Dec 29, 2019
4 things all athletes should be doing before their junior year
Parents of prospective student athletes (PSA) often ask me:
“If ALL recruiting contact now begins September 1 of the junior year, does it mean that the college recruiting process begins September 1 of the junior year?
Absolutely not. And here’s why.
New NCAA legislation on early recruiting was necessary. It was getting out of hand. In fact, eliminating early recruiting across the board is good for PSAs, parents and coaches because there’s now a clear, unmistakable line drawn.
Basically, in sports other than football and basketball, a college coach cannot express interest in a player before September 1 of the junior year. After September 1, coaches can express as much interest (and as often) as they want.
That said, this also means many PSAs will elect to wait to become proactive, which is going to serve more ambitious PSAs extremely well.
So, what can you do before the start of your junior year to get out in front of your college recruitment? Here are some ideas:
Introduce yourself to coaches… via email, express interest in their programs, provide website & film, follow coaches on Twitter & Facebook. Even though coaches cannot reciprocate interest until September 1 of your junior year, you are forcing them to start a file on you. You are prompting them to begin the EVALUATION process. This is how you throw your hat in the ring. This is how you build your brand before the flood gates open September 1. It’s like getting in line before the next iPhone release or buying tickets today for a concert 6 months from now. Get in line right now if you want to be called by college coaches when your junior year begins.
Continue emailing coaches with updates/touches at least every 60 days. Again, you know coaches aren’t allowed to have any “recruiting contact” with you prior to September 1 of your junior year, and you should communicate that with coaches each time you engage them with a new touch. In fact, you can now expect them NOT to reply! The point of the 60-day follow-up emails is NOT to get a reply; it’s to build your brand. It’s to make a name for yourself and get on radars so that when September 1st does arrive, you will have positioned yourself at the top of many coaches’ recruiting boards.
Research schools and start to bring a realistic pool of college targets into focus. Under the new guidelines, NOBODY knows where they stand until September 1 of their junior year. Your club/HS coach is no longer able to circumvent the process by serving as a messenger for college coaches who want to communicate with you prior to the start of your junior year. And college coaches aren’t allowed to entice kids to make a decision on their verbal offer prior to Sept 1 either. This means it’s more critical than ever now for PSAs and parents to carefully research colleges, be open to many different options, loosen their restrictions on location, size, prestige of school, etc. Be open-minded to all possibilities. Because even though coaches can no longer demonstrate interest in a PSA prior to Sept 1 of their junior year, they will be spending a majority of their time EVALUATING players.
In other words, if you’re a freshman or sophomore and have only been introducing yourself to the Top 20 programs in the nation, and you then learn on Sept 1 of your junior year that none of these programs share your interest, then you’re essentially forced to start over. You’ve moved yourself to the back of the line, so to speak. So cast a wide net. Don’t rule out Division II, III and NAIA opportunities. Engage these coaches early and often so that if your Division I opportunities wind up being limited, then at least you’ve been proactive with a more suitable level.
The whole point of this radical shift is improving the student’s recruiting experience, and now PSAs can better enjoy the experience without feeling like they’ll lose scholarship opportunities by waiting.
Attend a college camp… and take a campus tour while you’re there. A coach can still walk you around; they just can’t discuss recruiting or their current interest in you until Sept. 1 of your junior year. Again, the point of the camp and/or the campus tour prior to the start of your junior year is NOT so you can get direct recruiting feedback from these coaches. It’s purely EVALUATIVE.
In summary, the game has changed – and for the better, many believe (myself included). There is a much clearer line in the sand now and everyone must play by the same rules. For parents and PSAs, it really comes down to this simple, unmistakable fact:
Before your junior year in high school, PSAs are driving the EVALUATION process. Once your junior year begins, RECRUITING kicks into high gear.
In other words, if September 1 arrives and coaches show immediate interest in you, then you know you have provided them enough evaluation opportunities, and they believe you to be a solution to their specific problem. If, on the other hand, September 1 arrives and programs are not demonstrating interest in you, then you either didn’t get yourself on enough college radars or coaches had ample opportunities to evaluate you and determined you aren’t what they’re looking for.
Either way, your college recruitment experience just became far more transparent – and that’s a very, very good thing.
Need help jump-starting or managing your student-athlete's college recruiting journey? Since 2003, Student-Athlete Showcase has helped more than 10,000 families navigate the athletic scholarship process. Call or email today for a free consultation.