College Recruiting: Don’t Start Early to Commit Early

College Recruiting: Don’t Start Early to Commit Early

The NCAA DI transfer numbers are increasing at an alarming rate.  Why is that?   Many prospective student-athletes are asked to make an early decision on their future.  How can we expect a teenager who doesn't even have their driver’s license to make a decision that is going to affect the next 40 years of their life?   Yet college coaches are asking that very thing of Freshmen and Sophomores and sometimes even 8th graders.  There are student-athletes all over making verbal commitments to college coaches two or three years before they will even step foot on that campus.  Many coaches say they hate identifying and evaluating high school freshmen and sophomores, but those same coaches acknowledge that they do it to keep pace with the competition. As a college recruiting expert who speaks to thousands of high school student-athletes a year about the college recruiting process, I encourage them to start the recruiting process early but not to commit early. When I say early I mean as a freshman or sophomore.  You shouldn't feel pressured into making a decisions.  If you are put into that situation by a coach than there is a good chance that is not a coach you would want to go play for.  If you do have the talent  to be recruited early and make an early decision be up front with the coach and talk to him about any concerns you have.  In most sports many high school student-athletes know where they are going to college even before they start their first day of classes senior year.  As juniors they have much more life experience under their belt.  They are halfway through their high school career, most likely have a driver’s license, have taken SAT's, and maybe even have a job. Prospective student-athletes should start early so they have ample time to research schools that match what they are looking for academically and socially. After doing plenty of research on a number of different schools they need to begin visiting college campuses that interest them and sit down and speak to college coaches about their athletic programs. I believe the college recruiting process done correctly should last 12 - 18 months. Approximately 6% of high school student-athletes go on to play in college and of those 6%, 1% of those either quit or transfer after their first year in college.  That is an alarming rate for for sure. There are many reasons why someone may transfer but its possible it could have been avoided during the college recruiting process.   As a former coach and recruiting coordinator for a small, liberal arts, and catholic DI women's soccer program we had our recruiting challenges.   Over the course of my time there we had a number of transfers for a number of different reasons which I feel could have been discovered in the recruiting process if these students and their families dug a little bit deeper into the school and the college experience it offered compared to what they were really looking for. Here is a list of the number of early commitments by sport.  You will notice that in some sports like soccer, lacrosse, and volleyball early commitments is the norm especially on the women's side.   A prospective student-athlete cannot sign an official Letter of Intent until their senior year.


  Early Commitments By Sport (Classes of 2020, 2019, and 2018) Women's Soccer 
  • Class of 2020 - (Freshmen) - 3 Verbal Commitments
  • Class of 2019 (Sophomores) -  98 Verbal Commitments
  • Class of 2018 (Juniors)  -  560 Verbal Commitments
Source: Men's Soccer
  • Class of 2019 (Sophomores) - None Found
  • Class of 2018 (Juniors) - 16 Verbals
Source Women's Lacrosse 
  • Class of 2019 (Sophomores ) - 75  Verbals
  • Class of 2018(Juniors) -  556 Verbals
Men's Lacrosse 
  • Class of 2018 (Juniors)  - 525 Verbals
  • Class of 2019 (Sophomores) - 22 Verbals
  • Class of 2019 -  16 Verbals
  • Class of 2018 - 50 Verbals
Source Men's Basketball
  • Class of 2019 - 5 Verbals
  • Class of 2018 - 21 Verbals
Source : Women's Ice Hockey 
  • Class of 2019 - 38 Verbals
  • Class of 2018 -  76 Verbals
Source: Men's Ice Hockey 
  • Class of 2020 - 22 Verbals
  • Class of 2019 - 53 Verbals
  • Class of 2018 - 181 Verbals We do encourage you to start the recruiting process early. But don't start early to commit early!  There are so many factors that are involved in finding the right fit or your College Experience Trifecta. There are also so many questions you should answer before committing to a school.  There are academic questions, social questions, financial questions, and of course athletic questions.  You should be thorough as you examine the schools and athletic programs you are interested in.  It's not about the sport, it's about the school.  

Are you ready to get a jump-start on your college search process?

Let’s begin the journey to find your College Experience Trifecta.   Grab your copy of the College Recruiting Playbook today and start making your dream a reality. In 2015, the College Recruiting Playbook was published to help educate prospective student-athletes about the college recruiting process. The College Recruiting Playbook is a student-athletes workbook to finding the right college to fit their academic, athletic, and personal needs. Finding the right college for your student-athlete doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, with College Recruiting Playbook, you can navigate the five phases of the recruiting process with surprising ease. 1. Planncollege-recruiting-playbook-covering and Preparation 2. Communication 3. Gaining Exposure 4. Decision Making 5. Beyond the Decision This step-by-step guide walks parents and students through everything they need to know and do in order to find the best college athletically, academically, and personally. Written especially for high school athletes, this guide is also an essential read for parents, teachers, and coaches. By utilizing the included organizer and looking at the process from more than an athlete’s point of view, you can form the best strategy for your young athlete’s near and distant future.


About the Author Christopher Stack is the Founder and CEO of Guiding Future Stars and author of the College Recruiting Playbook. GFS is a student- development company that transforms the next generation into excellent students, great athletes, and extraordinary people. A former Division I soccer player for Mount St. Mary’s University, he holds a degree in sports management and an MBA in marketing. Stack has worked in intercollegiate athletics for over twelve years. Starting his career in college administration at his alma mater as the Coordinator of Intramurals, he also served as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the university’s women’s soccer team. He eventually transitioned to the academic side of college sports as the coordinator of student-athlete academic support.  In 2014, he created Guiding Future Stars.  In 2015, he published his first book The College Recruiting Playbook. Stack now enjoys using his higher education experience to help educate  high school students achieve their dreams of playing sports in college while also gaining first-rate educations.

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