The Real Recruiting Work is Just Beginning for Most College Coaches

For most college coaches, real recruiting starts after the ESP is over and done.

Nearly all NCAA Division I and II coaches have just completed the Early Signing Period (ESP).  (A few sports must wait until 2011 for their one and only signing period to happen.)  Some coaches are breathing easier because they’ve been fortunate enough to land all their top recruits.  Others are exhausted and out of breath from the long recruiting ordeal while knowing there’s more to be accomplished since their rosters still have open spots to be filled.  But perhaps surprising to many parents and high school seniors is that even more coaches have sat out the ESP altogether and are waiting to see which prospects didn’t realize their dream of signing early.  When the proverbial dust settles, these coaches go to work attempting to lure these unsigned seniors to their programs.

Only slightly more than 30 percent of all NCAA DI & DII prospects sign during the ESP.  Considering that about 3,300 altogether will sign DI and DII National Letters of Intent in the Class of 2011, 2,200 roster spots remain open leaving a whole bundle of prospects anxious to see when and if their chance will finally arrive to play at the next level.  

Then there’s DIII, NAIA and NJCAA openings which get very little attention.  Together the number of colleges in these three groups nearly double the roster openings in DI & DII combined.  Moreover, these are accredited colleges with degrees to be earned and, with the exception of NCAA DIII schools, there are some substantial athletic scholarship dollars available. 

So, what are coaches thinking post-ESP?  Hit the phones.  Hit the roads.  Hit the gyms.  Whatever it takes, these coaches, while they have already compiled their top-20 or so wish lists for recruits, the ESP can change all that when certain attractive prospects fail to sign and fall through the cracks.  The list  juggling kicks up a notch or two and the wrangling for the best available recruits begins.   

These are the dog days of recruiting for college coaches.  Their ears are constantly pressed to the ground trying to learn if this or that recruit has already signed, who’s still available, and if the unsigned kids have come down to Earth enough to now be open to the coach’s advances.  It’s all a big chess game with live-action figures in the form of unsigned high school seniors being carefully cajoled around the board.  For coaches, if they are lucky, they will capture the king or queen.

It’s career life and death for many coaches, so they go to sleep and wake up thinking about their next maneuver.  Their livelihoods hang in the balance.  Signing key prospects which could potentially make the difference in their programs is paramount in their minds.  One special signee can carry their team for two to four years and can help the coach to reel in other higher caliber recruits.  All it takes are a couple of excellent kids to turn their program from also-rans to contenders.  And every coach knows this.  It’s just a matter of pulling it off.

 

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