By Matt Eskridge
Face it: many high school students who play sports dream of playing at he collegiate level but don’t know what steps are necessary to get there. Playing a high school sport is hard enough between balancing school and sports, and life can get messy trying to become a college athlete. Most people that attempt it wait until junior year to get started. By starting so late, they cram and rush to meet all the requirements to be eligible for recruitment, creating unneeded stress. However if you follow this guide and start freshman year to stretch requirements out, you may be able to spare yourself a struggle in the future.
It’s freshman year, and you’re finally entering high school. You may not know what sport you want to play, let alone if you want to play it throughout college. Once that’s figured out though, your recruiting process must commence.The first step in the recruiting process is to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center; the partners of the NCAA are responsible for determining the academic eligibility and amateur status for all D1 and D2 student-athletes. After registering, you are considered a prospective student-athlete and are technically eligible for recruitment. Start by picking 30 to 40 colleges you would like to attend in all divisions. Once those colleges are selected, it’s just a waiting game until sophomore year. The only thing you have to do is maintain a 2.0 GPA to be eligible for your high school sport, but to be eligible for a D1 college, the goal is to sustain at least a 3.3 GPA.
“Grades are important in the recruitment process,” Chris Avila, freshman, said.“ They’re even more important than how good you are in the sport.”
Sophomore year is the year to truly become recognized. There are millions trying to play on the collegiate level, so you have to make yourself stand out by not only outworking others in sports but also in the classroom. Attempt to get the highest GPA that is possible; the higher the GPA the more colleges are interested in you. You may already have D2 or D3 colleges contacting you, so respond immediately. Even if you’re not interested in that specific college, getting an offer from one college gets other colleges to recognize you. If the college that you are interested in contacts you, arrange an unofficial visit to meet their coaches, try out their uniforms, and get a feeling for the school to make sure if it’s the right fit for you. If it feels like a perfect fit, commit, but it’s not recommended to commit too early in high school because you may receive better offers. Sophomore year is just the calm before the storm, but junior year is the most important year in the recruiting process.
“You have to stand out from others,” Trey Goughour, sophomore, said. “ There’s a lot of people like me, but I gotta make myself stand out to look more appealing to college recruiters.”
Junior year is the most crucial year of recruitment. This is year that you are qualified to unofficially and officially visit all division schools, and they can also contact and email you about scholarships. This year is so important because it’s the year required for you to take either the ACT or SAT, and scoring high can boost your chances for recruitment. If your chosen college has offered you a scholarship, you can commit, senior year is the best year for commitment.
“Dl coaches can email me, and I can visit any college I want,” Isaiah Hartfield, junior, said. “Unlike sophomore year were we could only do so much.”
Senior year marks the year of commitment. If you haven’t already committed, this is the year to do it. Senior year is the easiest year if you’ve followed all the right steps. The only thing keeping you from an offer is a potential grade slip. If you don’t have any scholarship offers by senior year, fill out applications for colleges you desire and keep updating your Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) profile. If all else fails, talk to colleges about walking on and earn a scholarship that way.
“My advice it to meet all requirements your first three years,” Coach Casel, football coach, said. “You won’t be stressed out senior year, and you can enjoy your last year of high school knowing that your future is set.”
The journey to recruitment may seem like a long and complicated process, but if you follow the right steps and stretch requirements among all four years, it can become far less challenging.