Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When Should a Player Verbal?

It's January and baseball is starting to reach it's feverish pitch in some parts of the country. Many high schools in the sunbelt start their outdoor practices this weekend. Is this the time of year to verbal? Some schools will want you to verbal now. Should you do it? This is a question that we have wrestled with for years as we put our son's through the recruiting conundrum. There are several answers that relate to various scenarios. Let's start with age...

There are still a lot of small colleges that haven't signed players yet. That time comes April 9th. If a senior gets an offer (Seniors can get offers, underclassmen can't officially just yet) from a D-II or smaller school and it's a school he really wants to attend, then now may be a good time to give a verbal commitment. Why? Well, it will alleviate a lot of pressure first and foremost. It's a relief for many players to not have be on stage for a while...we said for a while...because once he is in college he will be back on that stage again.

However, if a senior has been getting several offers and hasn't made all of the official visits yet and thinks that a banner senior high school season could improve his chances for a better offer, then waiting for the school he really wants to go to should be the choice. The late signing period is much longer, so the only timeline is making the decision before the availability of offers goes dry. Remember, a student should always pick the school first, then baseball. Hopefully, he has already applied to those schools already and is just waiting for a baseball offer. We have made this comment several times. Don't verbal if it's not a school that interests him just to play baseball. If baseball doesn't work out, then he's stuck with a school he doesn't like. We have seen the scenario where an student/athlete turned full time student, has to start the application process all over again to attend another school that fits him and his major. That's a big pain.

There are some that would disagree, but January through spring of his junior year is still too early to verbal if a player had some type of correspondence with a college coach and he has told the player that he wants him to be a part of his team. It's flattering, but if that player is good, he will get interest from other schools as well. Don't say yes to the first college that shows interest. Play your high school season. Step it up this summer on a great travel team. Enjoy July 1st (the first official day that an incoming senior can recieve phone calls from college coaches) and the phone calls you will get and then, after a heart to heart with your coaches, parents and yourself...make the RIGHT decision. The recruiting process can be a lot of fun if you follow this timeline.

However...there's always a however...IF and only IF, a player receives a solid "offer" (it's really just solid interest at this point due to NCAA restrictions) from a school that has been on the top of his list and there will be no post decision dissonance that could ever give him regrets, then maybe it will be OK to verbal. This early verbal is usually reserved for the coveted athletes that a school wants to tie up now so that they can concentrate on other needs. It also can be a relief for the top athlete to finally concentrate on playing ball. Many elite athletes get bombarded with mountains of e-mails and regular mail everyday and it gets old after a while. Verbally announcing his decision usually stops the activity. Now, verbals are non-binding for both the player and the school at this stage...but, that doesn't mean that a player can or should change his mind. Barring any injuries to a player, a school should not back down on it's offer either. They both can legally, but it's not really acceptable, unless there has been a change in the coaching staff or other outside influences that change the ground rules a bit. Bottom line, a player must be absolutley sure that this is his number one choice. If so, then make the announcement.

First of all, the majority of sophomores will not get "offers" or solid interest yet...Yes, you will get letters and e-mails...that doesn't necessarily imply solid interest.. So, sophomores players and parents...don't even think about it! That said, we do know literally a handful of sophomores that have verballed. (Literally, less than 5 exceptionally talented players that we know of.) And, unless a player is one of those handful of super-studs that comes around every once in a while, there is absolutely no reason a sophomore should be thinking that he is missing out on something at this age. Physically, mentally, and practically, there is so much baseball ahead. A player should just use this time to play exceptional ball. This is the time to make the high school varsity team if he can. That should be priority number one. Make a top rated travel team. That is priority number two. Get seen at showcases and major tourney's. That's priority number three. Sophomore year is a time when a player should be scaling up his game to a higher level. He may have dominated at a younger age, but how does that scale to playing against other players two to three years his senior? It can be a wake-up call and all the more reason to relax and just play the game, work-out, get stronger, smarter and better.

We hope this helps. Any personal experiences that players, parents or coaches want to add? Use the comment section below. Don't worry. You can reply as anonymous.

RT Staff

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