RT Staff Note: The following is from NCSA and Brandon Liles. Go to www.ncsasports.org for more articles.
Unfortunately, those athletes and families are asking the wrong question…
Before we address when it might be “too late” for DI, I want to point out that it is absolutely never too EARLY for DI programs to begin recruiting. There have been more early commitments this year than ever before. Some major programs have a full class of commitments before they are even able to call recruits. So the better question should be:
When is it too early? NEVER
When is it too late? That’s hard to answer. However, if you have to ask yourself whether or not you are too late, it might be a decent time to start worrying – or at least start taking action.
Why is the question hard to answer?
You have to keep in mind that recruiting timelines differ for every college program and every sport. Some coaches will not put an offer on the table until they have a chance to evaluate the recruit’s skills and the recruit visits the campuses. It is also important to understand that you need to be proactive and build a relationship with the coach. That is how recruits as young as 7th grade have already made a decision. They have called coaches, communicated with them, been evaluated, and visited many campus ALREADY.
It is typical that most DI coaches, as a general rule, will have offers on the table during junior year and be wrapped up by the end of the summer entering senior year. It is a domino effect from that point on with DII finishing next and so on…
For DI and DII programs, the offer is not official until you sign the National Letter of Intent. NAIA and JC programs have their own letters of intent. DIII schools are not allowed to use any form of a letter of intent. The recruit commits to a DIII program by accepting their financial package and putting down their deposit.
On the flip side, there are situations where a DI offer may not be given until after a student-athlete has already graduated high school. For instance, the Major League Baseball first-year player draft takes place in June each year and does affect recruiting for DI college programs.
Also, there is fallout due to some commitments not making the grades or not taking the correct core courses to be eligible through the NCAA Eligibility Center. If these situations take place, then there may be opportunities to take that recruit’s spot late in the process.
Finally, I want you to keep in mind that there are other levels to consider. DII, DIII, NAIA and JUCO provide excellent levels of competition and outstanding educations. Do not get caught in the “DI” name game. If a student-athlete continues to receive general responses from coaches or camp brochures as opposed to personal communications, then you might want to explore other levels of play.
In recruiting, you are never going to “start at the perfect time.” The reality is that you are either going to start early and get ahead or find yourself playing catch up late in the game. Which category do you fall under?