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College Recruiting Tips: What We Wish We Knew

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

College recruiting can be a bit overwhelming. Whether you are highly recruited or seeking out opportunities yourself, there are so many things to consider. With that said, not everything is a deal-breaker, and not everything you hear is truthful. How can you cut through the noise and make the best decision for yourself? A few retired college athletes discuss what they wish they knew during their recruiting process.


This first episode of The Panel focuses on the recruiting process for student-athletes. Throughout the episode, guests share their experiences during the process and how different aspects such as personal interests, relationships with the coach, and personal preference impacted their decisions to commit or accept offers from various schools poaching them.

This episode sheds some light on how everyone's recruiting process can be different. Rather than having a defined set of rules, seeing success during the recruiting process lies in a recruit's ability to know what they want and make a decision that supports their long-term goals. This allows any recruit to choose the right school for them.

This episode encourages student-athletes to avoid coaches that pressure them to make rushed decisions, talk to mentors, and educate themselves on the recruiting process by asking former players of the schools they are interested in attending. Still, evaluating your options, looking out for yourself, and considering other personal interests and preferences such as the ideal environment for each recruit before making big decisions comes in handy. The episode gives first-hand information in the rawest and most passionate way on the dos and don'ts during the recruitment process.

Key Points

1. Receiving Mail From Schools - What Does That Mean?

For many student-athletes, the recruitment process starts when letters start coming in from coaches. Not every letter carries the same weight. Camp letters are often sent out to many athletes that the athletic program believes could pay to attend their camp. More importantly, questionnaires and handwritten recruiting notes show more signs of process and interest in the receipt. Receiving letters can begin in middle school, but the timeframe to get your first offer could vary. With that said, receiving mail from various schools often marks the beginning of a relationship between the student and the coaches.

2. Take Your Time Making The Decision

It is important to get to know the coach and the coaching staff recruiting you, and even more important, to figure out what positions they are looking to fill during your recruiting year. Getting this information is key to being realistic about where you could end up. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for you to receive an offer before you have gotten all the information necessary to make an informed decision. Suppose a coach pressures you into accepting offers or making a hasty decision. In that case, we recommend declining the offer or waiting until you have all the information necessary to make the best decision for you. Ultimately, you're making a decision that will affect the next four or more years of your life. They know that and should respect the time you need to make the decision.

3. Waiting to Commit Could be Beneficial

Have kids committed early and been successful? Yes. But how common is that scenario? Much rarer than you think. The recruiting process can start at a young age, and it's hard to know what you will like or dislike or even find important for years down the road. That is why we recommend waiting to commit, at least until your sophomore year of high school. Again, you can always commit before then, but there is a lot of room for unforeseen changes between when you commit and when you actually suit up for the school. Coaches could leave, players could transfer, you might want to major in something specific. The list goes on. With that said, making such a massive decision at an early age is advised. The best advice is to give it time as you evaluate your options. Consider having conversations with your parents, mentors, retired college athletes, and graduates who have gone through the same program for insights. This approach will help you make a sound decision when the time comes.

4. You Can Transfer If It's Not A Good Fit

Choosing the school for you out of high school can feel like the biggest decision ever. Truthfully, it is a big decision, but it's not as final as you may think. Transferring is an option. While no one goes into a school thinking, "I'm going to transfer," this option is there if things don't work out. The truth is that what you want may change over time, which could prompt a transfer.

5. Questions You Should Ask During the Recruiting Process

We recommend you reach out to former players of the program and ask candid questions to get the best and most honest answers. Here are a few questions you can ask.

  • Do you enjoy the school (no just the program) and why?

  • Are you what the school is looking for or what they need(ed)?

  • How many players does the coach play in his/her rotation?

  • What is coach's communication style?

  • What has been/was the biggest struggle for you while playing under this coach?

Asking the hard questions will help you decide which environment fits you and where you can get the most out of your collegiate career.

Key Quotes

  • "Do not commit early." - Cassidy Barnard

  • "Interview the coaches as much as they interview you." - Katie Mehlhorn

  • "Don't let people sell you on things during the recruitment process." - Shanteona Keys

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