Coronavirus and Recruiting in College Football
The airborne virus that plagues the world today wasn’t a concern when I was trying to get recruited for college football. I attended middle and high school camps throughout the 2009 - 2012 summers, and by 2013 I had participated in five Regional and All-American invitational camps and combines. It wasn’t enough.
It was clear to my family and me that I was passionate about football. I wanted to make an impact on the football program that wanted me the most. That wishful thinking wasn’t enough for offers to come flying through my mailbox.
Despite gaining regional and national recognition I hadn’t earned a starting spot on my high school team junior or senior year. I practiced with a high motor, watched my film, and stayed disciplined during the offseason workouts. I knew my work ethic would make me successful at the next level. I was a good teammate. That wasn’t enough.
In my personal experience, self-promotion was imperative to the recruiting process. I used a recruiting service to share my 2012 junior year highlights, camp skill videos and combine times to prospective coaches.Through the service, I sent out nearly 200 emails across different levels just to get my name out there.
About 15 teams from D-III to D-I responded with interest, and other programs required additional tape or slightly better combine times. I wanted more options, but there was only so much more I could do at the time. The pressure to perform senior fall elevated, especially with limited opportunities.
Midway through my senior season, I sent more highlights. The additional game tape backed up the summer camp films and more D-III coaches contacted me. Finally, near the end of my senior Fall, I did enough to get verbal confirmation from a college program that wanted me.They were convinced I had great potential and could contribute to their program.
The process took two to three years. Patience was important. I achieved my dream with persistence and hard work.
The Recruiting Norms
In the “normal” world, contact and evaluation periods are the most important part of the recruiting process. Coaches and scouts get face time with prospects in various ways allowing them to build trust and relationships.
They visit the prospect’s high school campus to watch Thursday’s practice and spark impromptu conversations with the recruit's coaches.
After Friday night’s game, the collegiate coach or scout can approach the player and give a small pitch about their school. Evaluators even find promising younger talent that they weren’t initially told to scout at these games. More opportunities for the involved parties arise with this casual, physical visit.
Official visits to college campuses are also an integral part of the recruiting process. High school prospects hang out with potential future teammates, parents interview the coaches they’re entrusting with their child, and everyone gets a better understanding if the college is the right fit.
When a prospect does enough to get the college’s attention during the contact and evaluation periods, they’ll likely receive verbal and or scholarship offers. They got the exposure their individual skill and high school pedigree granted them and are on the cusp of receiving that National Letter of Intent or D-III Celebratory Signing Form.
More high school recruits can be discovered on the latter end of the process. The process intensifies as athletes scramble to look for their new school and colleges decide who they’ll offer their final spots. Prospects need better times and more game film for the program to fully commit to this student athlete. Unfortunately, the pandemic’s lockdown throws a wrench in this process.