College Recruiting: Don’t Start Early to Commit Early

The NCAA DI transfer numbers are increasing at an alarming rate.  Why is that?   Many prospective student-athletes are asked to make an early decision on their future.  How can we expect a teenager who doesn’t even have their driver’s license to make a decision that is going to affect the next 40 years of their life?   Yet college coaches are asking that very thing of Freshmen and Sophomores and sometimes even 8th graders.  There are student-athletes all over making verbal commitments to college coaches two or three years before they will even step foot on that campus.  Many coaches say they hate identifying and evaluating high school freshmen and sophomores, but those same coaches acknowledge that they do it to keep pace with the competition.

As a college recruiting expert who speaks to thousands of high school student-athletes a year about the college recruiting process, I encourage them to start the recruiting process early but not to commit early. When I say early I mean as a freshman or sophomore.  In most sports many high school student-athletes know where they are going to college even before they start their first day of classes senior year.  As juniors they have much more life experience under their belt.  They are halfway through their high school career, most likely have a driver’s license, have taken SAT’s, and maybe even have a job.  Prospective student-athletes should start early so they have ample time to research schools that match what they are looking for academically and socially. After doing plenty of research on a number of different schools they need to begin visiting college campuses that interest them and sit down and speak to college coaches about their athletic programs. I believe the college recruiting process done correctly should last 12 – 18 months.

NCAA DI Women’s Soccer has one of the highest transfer rates in all of DI sports.   Approximately 9% of girls high school soccer players continue their career in college.  Of that 9% , only 1.5% of those play at the Division I level (  And about 5% of those players will either transfer or quit playing by the end of their freshmen year.   On the website, they post both boys and girls verbal commitments.   On the women’s side there are 236 high school sophomores (Class of 2018)  who have verbally committed to attend college and 11 freshmen (Class of 2019).  There are many reasons why someone may transfer but its possible it could have been avoided during the college recruiting process.   As a former coach and recruiting coordinator for a small, liberal arts, and catholic DI women’s soccer program we had our recruiting challenges.   Over the course of my time there we had a number of transfers for a number of different reasons which I feel could have been discovered in the recruiting process if these students and their families dug a little bit deeper into the school and the college experience it offered.  

Don’t start early to commit early!  There are so many factors that are involved in finding the right fit or your College Experience Trifecta.  There are also so many questions you should answer before committing to a school.  There are academic questions, social questions, financial questions, and of course athletic questions.  You should be thorough as you examine the schools and athletic programs you are interested in.  It’s not about the sport, it’s about the school.

Are you interested in learning the 50 Questions you should answer before committing to a school. Pick up your copy of the College Recruiting Playbook Today

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The College Recruiting Playbook


In 2015, the College Recruiting Playbook was published to help educate prospective student-athletes about the college recruiting process. The College Recruiting Playbook is a student-athletes workbook to finding the right college to fit their academic, athletic, and personal needs.

Finding the right college for your student-athlete doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, with College Recruiting Playbook, you can navigate the five phases of the recruiting process with surprising ease.

1. Planncollege-recruiting-playbook-covering and Preparation

2. Communication

3. Gaining Exposure

4. Decision Making

5. Beyond the Decision

This step-by-step guide walks parents and students through everything they need to know and do in order to find the best college athletically, academically, and personally.

Discover the answers to these questions and much more

  • What does it take to play at the next level?
  • What are the academic requirements to play in college?
  • What are the differences between DI, DII, DIII, and NAIA?
  • What do college coaches look for in prospective student-athletes?
  • What are the Three Key Elements of Gaining Exposure ?
  • What is a verbal commitment? What is a National Letter of Intent?
  • What are the 50 questions every prospective student-athlete should answer before committing to a school?
  • And much more

Written especially for high school athletes, this guide is also an essential read for parents, teachers, and coaches. By utilizing the included organizer and looking at the process from more than an athlete’s point of view, you can form the best strategy for your young athlete’s near and distant future.