Excerpts from an article by Jeff Floyd (youcandomore.net)
As a high school coach, and as a parent, the question is often asked during the recruiting process – “How interested is (school X) in me (or my son or daughter)?”. I also have heard conversations along the line of “Did you hear that Johnny Joe is being recruited by LSU?” How can you gauge the level of recruiting interest from a particular school, and how can you tell if Johnny Joe is indeed being recruited by LSU?
This pyramid represents various actions that a college or university might take during the recruiting process – from the very basic at the bottom, to the ultimate sign of interest at the top. Although it is not hard and fast, from my experience it is a fairly accurate gauge regarding the level of recruiting interest. From my experience, too, the actions normally follow sequentially in this progression. For example, a college probably will not set up an official visit for you if they have not evaluated your video.
Here is a step by step breakdown of each level:
You receive a letter from the college – Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but receiving a letter from a college or university does not mean you are being recruited. It means you are on their list, which is a start, and is a good thing. But colleges literally send out thousands of letters to potential recruits in the beginning of the process. These letters can start arriving as soon as your sophomore year in school, and are usually based on your high school coaches recommendation.
College coach requests video – Normally in the Spring, college coaches will begin putting together their recruiting lists for the next season. They will either physically visit your high school campus and talk with your head coach, or correspond via email or phone. It used to be pretty much the norm that college coaches would visit in person in the spring because they had to physically pick up actual video tapes. With the advent of Hudl and other online video services, college coaches now have the ability to get this information electronically in an instant.
College Coach visits you at school – During the Fall, after an initial evaluation has been completed, college coaches will start making the rounds and begin their in person visits with the prospective student athletes at school. Typically, coaches will only do a face to face visit with players they believe have a chance of being a scholarship athlete in their program. It is an indication of a higher level of interest, but still not a true indication of their final intent. During this visit, really an initial “job interview” they will continue to gather information such as your academic interests, family background, and other schools you may have an interest in. They will also give you the “eyeball” test to see if you really are 6’4” and 225 lbs, or actually 5’11” and 195 lbs !
Coach sends you a text – If a coach begins developing a relationship with you by sending a text or email, that again is an indication of a higher level of interest. Keep in mind, too, that both of those methods are fairly impersonal, and can be done “en masse” as well.
Coach calls you – When a college coach takes the time to actually call you and talk on the phone, it is an indication of a fairly high level of interest. It is something that has to be done individually and is unique to you. You can not do it in a group, or copy and paste like you can with email or text. Things are getting serious at this level.
Offer Official Visit – This indicates a very high level of interest. This is only referring to an “Official” visit – one where the college or university is paying for you (and your parents) to travel and visit their campus. Colleges normally will have you (and your parents) spend the night, feed you, pay travel expenses, give you tickets to games, etc. All this is legal (to a point) and what most colleges will do regarding Official visits. While you are on campus, their evaluation of you will continue, as yours of them should as well. Normally colleges will not spend the time, money, or energy bringing a prospect on campus for an Official visit if they are not planning to invest some scholarship aid in that athlete.
Home Visit – Typically, prior to you and your family coming on an Official visit, the recruiting coach, head coach, or both will try to schedule a visit in your home with you and your family. If the head coach is taking the time out of his schedule to come to your home and talk to you and your family (selling himself and his program) they are VERY interested in you.
Scholarship Offer – Of course, this indicates nearly the highest level of interest. Often, but not always, this offer is made during the Official visit. Remember, on any level other than FBS, this offer may range anywhere from a small partial scholarship to a “full ride”. It is very important to remember, too, that this verbal offer is NOT binding until the LOI (Letter of Intent) is signed, typically on the National Signing Date. You can verbally “commit” at this time (or any time) but that is not binding as well. Up until the LOI is signed, a college can pull their offer of financial assistance, and the student-athlete can change their mind as well. Both the offer and “verbal commitment” are non-binding.
LOI – Congratulations! You made it to the top! This is a binding, legal document between the college or university and you. You will also sign a one-year athletic scholarship agreement with the college or university. The LOI must be accompanied by an offer of athletic financial assistance. An NCAA school cannot have you sign a LOI if you are “walking on”. At this point, it is important to note that the financial assistance offer is for one year, and can be renewed each year. If an NCAA school says they are offering you a “4 year scholarship” that is not completely honest. Typically, they will honor the agreement for 4-5 years, but they are not bound to that amount.