The High School Recruiting Timeline Process

  • 27 Jan, 2016

Playing sports in college is a privilege many student-athletes want to accomplish. The key to a successful recruiting process is to prepare yourself early in the game by constantly getting educated and constantly promoting yourself. As a former D1 scholarship student-athletes myself, I’ve quickly learned the many obstacles in the process. I had to prepare myself on and off the field to meet the expectations to make a college team by obtaining an athletic scholarship. Only 2% of the high school athletes obtain scholarships and about 1% go on a full ride. So where the rest of the 98% ends up? Well, that’s where it will depend on how strategically players will promote themselves and search for schools to find the right fit. 

Many talented student-athletes sometimes fail to prepare themselves accordingly. Don’t be that athlete regardless of the school you end up playing for. At the end of the day just make sure that you have done everything possible to find your ideal college fit based on your on and off the field abilities.

Now a day, the college recruiting process starts as early as the freshman year in high school for most sports. I know, it’s crazy early but players, parents and coaches are adjusting and moving on with the process. Otherwise, you could be left behind and the process of finding the idle school becomes harder. Don’t be shocked if you ever hear that a player has verbally committed to a university before entering high school. Of course, decisions can change down the road but remember that anything can happen so be prepared. Take a look at this article here from Florida Lacrosse News to see an 8th grader verbally committing to reigning ACC champion Syracuse.

I would recommend starting the recruiting process in your freshman year of high school. You don’t have to do it but it doesn’t hurt to prepare yourself early. Coaches love to deal with responsible, dedicated, hard working student-athletes who show constant preparation. Now, if you sense a school or coach is not interested in you, don’t give up. But at the same time don’t become overwhelming either. Find the balance and move on quick.

Since the college recruiting process can be so complex, I’ve outlined a high school timeline to help you navigate with more ease. Remember, get educated early, promote yourself and be proactive if you want to get ahead of your competition.

Freshman Year (9th Grade)

  • Play the sport you love. It has to be yours. Don’t let anyone choose it for you.
  • Be disciplined and prepare yourself to work hard on and off the field.
  • Time management becomes more important since you days are getting busier.
  • Advise your high school counselor that you want to play sports in college.
  • Your parents can be your administrative assistants through the process.
  • Familiarize yourself with the NCAA Guide for College Bound Student Athlete.
  • Learn how to search for colleges
  • Educate yourself on how to choose a college.
  • Quickly become familiar with the NCAA recruiting rules.
  • Get a proper and honest evaluation by your coaches and set your mind on a realistic school you can play and study.
  • Research how many core classes you need to play at each division and what’s the minimum GPA you’ll need. For athletes who want to play at D1 level, they will need to graduate with 16 core classes by the end of their senior year.
  • Build your FREE sports resume profile, upload your videos, stats, grades, schedule and share it with the coaches. Always keep it updated with the newest information.
  • Get in contact with college coaches and develop relationship with them. Get on their radar early.
  • Be advise that you are being watched on all your social media accounts. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to show your grandma.
  • Constantly work hard on your grades, in training and keeping up with the recruiting process.
  • Ask your teachers how you can start doing your community service hours.

Sophomore Year (10th Grade)

  • Time to take the PSAT to determine where you stand academically.
  • If you are an international student, try taking the TOEFL (Test Of English As A Foreign Language) test.
  • Read the NCAA Division I core course worksheet. Please make sure you are on track with the core course requirements. Easy to fall behind.
  • Get evaluated in your sport and work on strengthening your weaknesses.
  • Develop and review your realistic colleges. Make a list of at least 15-20 colleges from each level.
  • Familiarize yourself with the requirements of your potential college. Be academically prepared.
  • Introduce yourself to college coaches with a cover letter, make an early impression and show interest.
  • Find out how coaches evaluate athletes in your sport.
  • Look at the team rosters and know who will you compete with for a spot.
  • Stay active and play in a competitive league with quality players and great coaching. Make sure you see a decent playing time.
  • Attend college ID camps and or showcase events to maximize your exposure. Know in advance if your coaches you try to reach will attend the events.
  • Discuss about financials with your family.
  • Play every game, as it’s your last. You never know who’s watching you.

Junior Year (11th Grade)

  • Probably the most important year to get recruited.
  • Study hard for the SAT, ACT or TOEFL test if needed.
  • Make sure you are on track with the NCAA Division I core course worksheet requirements.
  • Review and update your ideal Colleges list.
  • Make sure you are Registering With The NCAA Eligibility Center.
  • Re-take the SAT or ACT if you haven’t done so. The higher the scores the better.
  • Upload your latest highlights videos on your WGP profile and share it with the coaches.
  • Obtain references from coaches that seen you play.
  • Get evaluated and improve your weaknesses.
  • Take unofficial visits to colleges that have showed interest in you.
  • Read our DO’S and DON’TS of recruiting.
  • Attend events to get more exposure.
  • Always follow up with the coaches who contacted you. If a coach hasn’t responded to you, THAT’S OK, NO WORRIES. You will find a school just stay proactive.
  • Analyze all your options and don’t commit until you are ready.
  • Keep your options open until you sign a National Letter of Intent.
  • Compete in a high level league through the summer and keep on working hard.
  • Be careful with your posts, photos or actions on social media. Remember, that anyone can be watching you.

Senior Year (12th Grade)

  • By now you should be well educated and work even harder to find the ideal school.
  • Consider and explore more options. Be open to everything till you are ready to commit.
  • Don’t wait for your high school coach to find you schools. You can ask to help but don’t expect anything in return.
  • GPA and grades are important.
  • Prepare to re-take the SAT or ACT if necessary.
  • You can start calling coaches.
  • Get any financial aid forms submitted as early as possible.
  • Contact the coaches who have expressed an interest in you.
  • You can also contact coaches at schools in which you have interest. Be persistent.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask coaches about scholarships and financial aid.
  • Time to request final transcripts to be sent to the NCAA.
  • If you haven’t found a school by now, you should be at least closer.

Now you are closer in finding your dream school. Stay proactive, get educated, work hard on and off the field. If you are persistent in promoting yourself you will be closer in accomplishing your mission. Good luck and have fun with the recruiting process.

Author @Nicolae Popescu

Nicolae Popescu is a former NCAA D1 full-scholarship student-athlete and the Founder of WeGotPlayers. He has experienced first-hand the complex college recruiting process himself. Nicolae' s knowledge, skills and sports expertise make him a valuable contributor in helping guide players and parents to find the right school fit. He is passionate about coaching, mentoring and positively influencing players succeed in their sports journey and life thru the power of education and technology.
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