When I was getting recruited back in 2016, I was overwhelmed with information that I was getting from different coaches, players, family members, and friends. I didn't know what to think about all of this becasue recruiting was a process that I had never gone through before. Once I decided to play for Duke University, all of this stress shifted from "where am I going to go" to "what is it going to happen once I get there." Looking back, I have absolutely no regrets about my choice of school and have loved every second of it.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case for other athletes because there is information that you find out once you arrive that you wish you would have known before you signed the National Letter of Intent. That is why I am writing today to shine light on aspects of college football that you may have not considered yet.
Academics vs. NFL Opportunity
There are 3 main types of schools that you can choose from when you are getting recruited. There are the "football" schools such as schools in the Power 5. There are "academic" schools like schools in the Ivy League. Then there are the schools that have a little of both. These types of schools can be found in any division, I am just using the Power 5 and the Ivy League as an example.
It is important to sit down with family members and talk about why you are really wanting to play collegiate football, whether it is a way of obtaining a college education, an opportunity to go to the NFL, or just because you have a strong love for the game. Once you know the real reason why you want to play at the next level, you can look at schools accordingly.
If you are wanting to go to the NFL and nothing else, you will probabally be better off going to a school that is known for their football program. If you are wanting a world class education and you are using football to get that education, you should look into schools with great academic programs. If you are going to school for the education but also trying to go pro, it would be best to look into a school that has a good football program while also having great academic programs.
This is important to think about because not all schools are the same. Some schools will better set you up for the NFL and others will give you a great education for your career. You can achieve both at any school, but different schools have different advantages which are important to take into consideration.
Location of the School
The recruitment process is a very exciting time in any athlete's life. It is a time for celebration, preperation, and transition. Most athletes during the recruiting process are super excited about moving to college and getting away from home in hopes of starting a new chapter in their lives. This is great and should be an exciting time for anyone who has the ability to choose which school they go to. There are just a few points that I would like to mention that could possibly help with the decision.
Once you arrive on campus, you are no longer a highschool senior who is on top of the world. You are a student athlete who works for the football program. This means that they control when you are able to leave campus and determine how often you can go home. These times are usually during the summer sessions, spring break, and winter break. Other than these 3 times of the year, you will not have any extended breaks. You will have the occasional weekend off, but that is it. That is worth mentioning because this means you have about 3 times a year where you can actually go home and see your family and friends.
As the months go by, you will miss your family more and more and will want to take any chance you get to go back home. So if you pick a school that is 11 hours away (like I did), then you will not get to see your family very often. If you pick a school that is close by and you get really homesick, you can always drive home on a weekend that you have off and see your family. That is why it is important to take into consideration because if you are a homebody, it may not be best to pick a school that is across the country.
Strength and Conditioning Coaches
When an athlete is getting recruited, you talk to the recruiter, position coach, and head coach. You will rarely talk to anyone else during the recruitement process. This makes it very easy to determine which school you like based off of the conversations you are having with those people.
The reality is, you will spend a large majority of your time with the strength and conditioning coaches. It is important to take into consideration the type of strength and conditioning coaches that you are seeing when you go on visits because you will spend most of you college football career with them. You will talk to them everyday because they are the ones that lead the workouts, conditioning sessions, pre-practice warmups, and post-practice stretches.
The only time that you are actually talking and interacting with your coaches are in meetings and practice. That is why it is important to build relationships with the strength and conditioning coaches to help determine what schools you like. The last thing you want to do is pick a school based on the people that you have been talking to and you end up disliking the strength and conditioning coaches.
These are just a few points that I would have liked to know while I was going through the recruiting process. I hope that this helps if you are having trouble deciding between schools. Be on the lookout for more articles to come about maneurving through the recruitment process.