13 Must-Do Items In The College Football Recruiting Process

Here is a 13-step guide to help you with your college football recruiting process. The landscape for college football recruiting is becoming much more competitive and much more complex, so it is very important to know you or your student-athlete should approach this often-crazy process. 

1. Do Not Procrastinate

It is important that you start the college football recruiting process as early as possible. We suggest that you or your child start taking note of different schools that you hope to target around the 6th or 7th grade, and that you are making decisions based on those target schools.  Don’t worry too much if you or your child are older than 6th or 7th grade, but you want to make sure that you begin to act fast in your recruiting process. 

Do not  simply wait for the colleges to come to you and recruit you. You want to make yourself appealing to the college recruiters in as many ways as possible. And of course, the earlier that you start with this process, the better. Think about yourself as a package, and think about the skill set that you want to sell to the college of your choice. College coaches invest a lot of time and effort into their players, so help make the decision easy for them by letting them know exactly what they are getting in you or your child - from the type of academic student that you are to your playing style on the field. 

Think about your skill set as an item that you want to sell - how would you market yourself? This upfront effort and diligence on your part will put you in a much better position to market yourself and make your student-athlete profile attractive to target colleges.  

Try to make sure that you or your student-athlete can get player profiles created on the major websites. If you do not know how to do this, find a coach or someone connected that can do it for you. The college football recruiting process has become much more a digital process, which means that most college coaches start their recruiting process online before contacting athletes or high school coaches.

2. Go To A Good High School

Believe it or not, a lot of college football coaches prefer to do as little traveling as possible during the recruiting process. With the amount of players in high school playing sports, it is very difficult to truly identify all of the talent that is out there. Because of this, college coaches tend to favor high schools that historically send players to play at the college level. 

College football coaches can trust that if a player is at a certain school, his ability to play at a certain level as already been validated.  Since this is the case, you want to put yourself in a better position to get recruited by either going to one of the top high schools, or at least playing in the same league or conference as the top football schools to help give you or your student-athlete more exposure.  If you are in a public school situation, there are legal ways to change your home address or request a permit such that you can play at a different school than your home school. 

If you have the means, it may make sense for your to attend a private school that has a reputation for sending players to play at the college level.  If you decide to go the route of playing in the same league or conference as a top school, this is an effective strategy as well. For example, if you're playing against a school that has a top recruit, and during that game you have a very good game and you make some good plays against that player - what do you think is going to happen? Those same coaches that were watching that other player are going to now start paying attention to you. Playing against top competition is key to the college football recruiting process. 

If the above options do not work for you, you can still put yourself in a good position by sending your game film and highlights to your colleges of choice, attending regional football camps and competitions, all while maintaining a solid GPA to present yourself with opportunities to walk on a college football team.  

3. Get Around Other Top Athletes  

This is pretty self explanatory. Spend your time with other top athletes. Train with them, play with them, play against them. Competition against top athletes puts you in a better position to get noticed by college football scouts. If you do not have top athletes at your school, make sure that you are spending your off-season in training gyms or on 7v7 travel teams with these top players.

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4. Be Easy To Find  

You want a coach to be able to find you.  It is absolutely critical that you have your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Hudl updated to reflect your profile. These are the platforms that the college football recruiters and writers are spending their time on. 

Be searchable! It may be really cool to put up some nickname with emojis, but coaches don’t know your nickname! Use your real name in your profiles and put your school name, your jersey number, and your position so that coaches know who you are - make yourself accessible. 

5. Use High Quality Game Footage  

Just like you do, coaches want to watch high quality video.  It is a bad idea to use low quality cell phone footage for your highlight films. While very convenient, cell phone videos typically have low sound and image quality - plus a college football coach doesn’t want to watch film that has bad field angles. The coach wants to the see the whole play, and how the play developed. 

Find someone to film for you if your school doesn’t have footage of your games - make sure the person that is working the  camera knows what they are doing so that they get all the best footage possible. You want game film, practice film, combine testing, and more. Recruiters are looking at tons of film so you want the first 5-10 seconds to be eye popping.  Stay away from long intros - get right to the action because you only have a short window of the coach’s attention span. 

Make sure to use really good thumbnails for the video, and use very good subject titles.  Here is a resource that talks about the importance of this stuff.  In addition to filming, find someone that can do your film editing for you.  Editing can take a ton of time, so you want to trust someone that has that skill set.  

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6. Keep Your Circle Tight  

You want to align yourself with other athletes that have your same mindset. They need to match (or exceed!) your work ethic. Iron sharpens iron so by you doing this you only make yourself better. Also it is a good idea to match your play style and your body type. This way you can train with each other and push each other to get better.  

Remember that “slow feet don’t eat” so make sure that footwork training is a vital part of your training regimen, and that you are working with someone that has comparable speed or is faster than you to help push you. 

7. Look At College Football Rosters  

Search the rosters of the colleges that you are interested in playing for and check out where the players are coming from.  What is the body type of the position that you play?  What high schools and locations are they coming from?  How many players at each position?  How many underclassmen are in each position? This exercise will give you insight on the schools that it may make sense for you to target based on your skill set, and where and how  soon you want to play in college. 

If you see a certain high school multiple times on a roster, its clear that high school is likely a target college football recruiting bed.  It may be a good idea to attend that high school or play in the same conference as that high school in order to give yourself the best odds of getting recruited.

8. Make A List Of Your Target Schools

Make a list of 10-15 schools that you want to target and start reaching out to the coaches.  If possible, you want to start doing this around the ages of 13-15. Start reaching out to the colleges and ask the coaches what they are looking for in athletes. This will help give you an idea of school fit. Also look at Division II & III schools to round out your options. 

A lot more schools than just the big time programs have college football, so if your goal is to simply get an opportunity to play football at the collegiate level definitely consider Division II & III schools. Free school is free school.  

9. Go To Football Combines And Camps  

This is also self-explanatory.  Go to the most well known football camps/combines such as the Nike football, Adidas Football, and Under Armour football camps so that you can get your “official” results, and get the additional exposure necessary to get noticed.  Because most of these big football camps have national coverage, a lot of college football recruiters play close attention to the camp results.    

10. See A Physical Therapist  

Visit with an expert to see if there is anything that you can fix with flexibility and movement efficiency - a lot of little things go into differentiating yourself as an athlete. Most high level athletes are seeing specialists in this area so if you want to play at a high level you need to see one. Check your hip flexibility, core strength on other areas vital to high level performance.  

11. You Can Walk On  

You always have the option to walk on if you don’t get a football scholarship offer. Don’t believe the misconception that walk-ons weren’t good enough to get a football scholarship. Many walk-ons were top players that got overlooked because they didn’t have good film or the coach found out about them too late.  Some of the best players ever, such as Brian Urlacher (University of New Mexico), were initially walk-on players.  

12. Make Sure You Are Eligible  

The NCAA requires that a certain amount of classes are taken at the high school level, and that you have to register your eligibility once you have academically qualified.  Visit this site as a resource.  Make sure that you go through all proper steps to get eligible - don’t let your grades slip, and make sure that you register with NCAA as early as possible.  You will not get recruited if you have not been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse  - AVOID ALL THE COMMON STUMBLING BLOCKS.

13. Stay Diligent

Do not be discouraged if you do not see results right away. The college football recruiting process can be a long and arduous, with some football scholarships coming in at the very last moment possible. No matter what, do not quit on your dreams, and remember that not every path to the top is straight and direct. Sometimes we need to take the long winding road to learn a few things. 

So to recap: 

  • Start the college football recruiting process early. 

  • Package your skill set. 

  • Go to a school that will help you get noticed. 

  • Make sure you have good film. 

  • Make sure coaches can find you. 

  • Be around other good athletes. 

  • Do your research on schools - make a list of schools (and have a back-up plan!). 

  • Make sure you're NCAA eligible. 

  • Contact coaches. 

  • Go to the best football camps. 

  • Keep Grinding!

If you have any questions whatsoever on the recruiting process, please feel free to reach out to us at any time and we will be happy to help! 

More to come!