Wednesday marks the early signing period. Football players across the country are completing the recruiting process and choosing
And it's never too early for juniors, and even sophomores,
to start thinking about the recruiting process. But where do you start?
Here are 10 tips to help you in the recruiting process.
1. Register for NCAA Clearinghouse
If you think that you have a chance to play at the NCAA Division I or II levels, you need to be registered with the NCAA. Make sure to go to www.ncaa.com to register on their clearinghouse. In order to play Division I or II, you must be certified with the NCAA, and this is the process you must use. There is a small fee to register, but there is a process to have this waived if your family cannot afford it. If you might play Division III or are undecided about which level, you can still create a profile page on the website.
2. Focus on your grades
Many students say their junior year is their most difficult academic year. Their schedule is usually full with classes. No free periods. This is the time to focus on your grades. Make sure to stay on top of the classes you might be struggling with, get extra tutoring and be in contact with your teacher regularly.
3. Get in the weight room
The spring time is your chance to get bigger, stronger and faster. Make a commitment to the weight room. If you're serious about playing football at the next level, nothing separates you from the rest of the pack like your strength and speed. Stay on top of your attendance. If you're playing another sport, don't panic. Most college coaches prefer their athletes to be well-rounded, and understand there are many benefits from playing multiple sports.
4. Make a list of your college choices
Sit down and research colleges and universities you might want to attend. It's best to have these discussions with your parents or guardians. You might want to move to California for college. But can your parents afford to visit you? Can you afford tuition, or partial tuition? Do they want you closer? Or perhaps you want to major in criminal justice. Does that school showing interest in you as a player offer that major? There are so many factors that go into making a solid decision about your college career. It's a good idea to narrow down your focus and energy on the colleges that meet your minimum requirements, and will also be a good fit for your family as a whole. 5. Meet with academic counselor at school
Meet with your academic counselor to ensure your four-year high school plan is going well. Make sure you're taking the necessary courses to be NCAA eligible. Some schools are well-versed in the necessary requirements. But if your school doesn't regularly send kids to NCAA programs, you might need to spend more time with your counselors to ensure eligibility. There's nothing worse than getting to the end of your senior year, and finding out you're ineligible because a summer school course you took at a local charter school is not NCAA certified. Cross every T, dot every I now; don't wait. 6. Hudl highlights
If you have not yet created your junior highlights on Hudl, do so — as soon as possible. College coaches are on the lookout for athletes, and the best way to get their attention is through contact with your high school coach and your highlights. Hudl has developed a dynamite platform for athletes to get their film to coaches. Make sure to spend quality time to develop a quality highlight film. Ask your coach to take a look at it. He will usually know what college coaches want to see — and don't want to see. Make sure that your first 15-20 plays are the best 15-20 plays of your entire junior season.
7. Start to learn about the FAFSA process
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a document you'll need to fill out for financial aid. You'll need to fill this out even if you get a full-ride scholarship. Although you won't fill out the FAFSA until your senior year, it's a great idea to start doing research about this application process, especially with your parents. You will definitely need their help because you'll need to get tax documents and more from your parents or guardians. Getting a jump start on understanding the FAFSA process will help you down the road. Some schools offer free FAFSA workshops. 8. Create a database of coach contacts
One thing that helps your recruiting process is for you to organize your contact with college coaches. You need to remember where you sent your film and to whom you sent an email or DM. Every time you have a contact with a college coach, you should document it. Start an Excel spreadsheet or develop a system to document these contacts on your phone. Using the iPhone Notes app is another idea for you to help track your contacts. Colleges are tracking their contacts with you to stay organized, you should do the same. 9. Discuss any possible official visits
If you haven't gone on any official visits yet, you might have this opportunity soon. Again, sit down with your parents or guardians to discuss college visits you want to make. Put together a list of the schools you'll visit on an "official visit" and which ones you might want to visit "unofficially." Recruits get five official visits so make sure that you make them count. 10. Put together a summer camp and combine calendar
Start researching what opportunities you will have this coming summer in marketing yourself at camps and combines. Are you going to fly around the country to different camps? Or just stay local? Colleges will start promoting their camps soon. You definitely want to get to camps at the schools where you want to try to earn a scholarship or walk-on invitation. So, find out when those camps or combines are. Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.