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College Football Recruiting

College Football Recruiting Explained

College football recruiting is the period when college football coaches from universities across America try to persuade high school and junior college football players to sign a letter of intent to attend their college the next year. The college football recruiting period lasts from the summer of one year to the first Wednesday of February the next year, when recruitment culminates with the “National Signing Day”.

National Signing Day

The National Signing Day is when college recruits sign a “letter of intent”, which is a binding promise to attend a particular university for the next season. Usually, recruits will verbally commit to a university prior to the National Signing Day.

In the case of highly sought-after recruits, a verbal commitment usually comes in the last month before signing day, when the recruit can weigh all his football options. For players who receive fewer offers, a verbal commitment is made earlier than a month out, since that player will be more anxious to nail down a football scholarship.

National Signing Day is followed by college football fans and school alumni closely, because the relative strength of the college recruiting class is seen as an indication of how strong the program will be in the coming years. While the scouting of high school and juco athletes can be spotty, those schools who sign the most blue chip prospects are given high grades for their college recruiting class.

Who Won National Signing Day?

Generally speaking, the big programs are going to “win” college signing day every year. But in the case of coaches under the gun to produce, having a great national signing day is seen as a way to appease fans and alums and maintain a base of support for the football program.

For this reason, every college coach “talks up” his yearly recruiting class, to maintain enthusiasm among the program’s fans and in the locker room.

College Football Recruiting Wars

One reason rivalry games during the regular season are so intense is the games help one team or another in the offseason recruiting wars. If Alabama routs Auburn, that might help Alabama sway a couple of in-state blue chip athletes.

The same can be said around the country. When the Texas Longhorns defeat the Oklahoma Sooners, that helps UT in recruiting, because OU is famous for raiding Texas high school football talent. It’s not just that way among the BCS schools. Whether it’s the blue chippers or the talent going to the mid-major schools, wins make it easier to recruit.

The same can be said for bowl games. Even though a college bowl game might seem to have little meaning to you, the prestige of actually winning the final game of the year helps woo those recruits in the weeks leading up to National Signing Day. If a Pac-10 school defeats an SEC program in football, that not only helps the conference and brings in more money for conference and program, but that win also helps when the nationwide scouts try to recruit out-of-state.

College Football Recruiting Season

As stated earlier, college recruitment begins in the summer at football camps, where college coaches meet high school players and potential junior college transfers and get to know one another. Recruitment begins there and informal contacts continue through the season, as college scouts return to places they’ve recruited before to touch bases and determine progress.

Scout work continues through the high school playoffs. By that time, colleges have begun to make offers to athletes. The athletes sift through the offers, weigh their options and begin to decide rather quickly after their season ends which college they will sign with.

The college program’s regular season record matters, since these kids are naturally going to follow every game much more closely than they would otherwise. By the time decisions are being made, teams are playing in bowl games. With blue chip prospects, decisions are being made from early January to early February, when the college bowl season is still fresh in their mind.

Certainly, other factors enter into the equation when recruiting: academic standards, facilities (stadium, practice facilities, weight room), tradition and opportunity. The last factor can sway a top recruit to go to a team that may not be at the top of the heap.

If you’re a highly touted quarterback prospect, you might prefer to be the #1 quarterback on campus day one at Fresno State than be the #4 quarterback on the USC Trojans – and likely having to sit for 2 to 3 years to get your chance to play.

Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassel, who rocketed to fame when Tom Brady was injured for the season with the New England Patriots in 2008, was hardly noticed in the NFL Draft because he never started a game in college. Instead, Matt Cassel sat on the bench as his teammates: Heismann Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer.

This is what makes college football recruiting so exciting to watch for college football fans. So many factors and personal decisions go into who wins and who loses at college recruiting, all based on the decisions of 17-20 year old kids, that nothing can be predicted about college football recruiting until the National Signing Day is over.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 28th, 2009 at 10:53 pmand is filed under College Football. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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