Twenty Things You Need to Know to Understand College Football Recruiting

Maybe you just want to know about college football recruiting? Or maybe you want to play football in college? You’re not alone—hundreds of thousands of high school athletes have the same dream. But what does it take to make that dream a reality? What are all of the rules behind college football recruiting? D1 Promotion is here to help you understand the college football recruiting process and take control of your own recruiting.

Contrary to popular belief, being a good football player is only a small part of the equation. The college football recruiting process is a full-time job, and if you want to play at the next level, you need to be all-in.

Here's the inside scoop on what it takes to get recruited. We'll cover the basics of college football recruiting, from how to get your name out there to how to impress coaches during the recruiting process. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of what it takes to play football at the collegiate level. Let’s get started!

1. The NCAA governs college football recruiting.

Each year, college football programs compete for the top recruits in high school. The NCAA regulates and oversees this process, ensuring that it is fair and equitable for all parties involved. The NCAA sets limits on when and how college coaches can contact prospective recruits, as well as limitations on the use of unofficial and official visits.

These guidelines are in place to protect college athletes from excessive pressure or manipulation during the recruiting process. Furthermore, the NCAA also monitors any potential benefits or gifts that may be given to recruits by college programs, ensuring they do not become a deciding factor in a student's college decision.

Overall, the NCAA serves an important role in college football recruiting by promoting fairness and safeguarding the well-being of college athletes.

2. College football recruiting generally begins in a prospect's junior year of high school.

When it comes to college football recruiting, it's never too early to start thinking about the future. Many college coaches begin evaluating and reaching out to potential players as early as their junior year of high school. However, this doesn't necessarily mean all the college recruiting decisions are made during a player's senior year.

College coaches also keep tabs on underclassmen and may offer them spots on their team if they show promise and continue to improve as they progress through high school. Ultimately, it's important for prospective college football players to continuously work hard and stay focused on their goals because they never know when they may catch the eye of a college coach.

And for college coaches, it's crucial to constantly scout and evaluate talent to build a strong team for years to come. Overall, college football recruiting is a highly competitive process that starts well before a prospect's senior year of high school.

3. College football programs are allowed to send unlimited printed materials to prospects.

The college football recruiting process often involves a significant amount of printed materials being sent to high school prospects. While there used to be restrictions on the number of items that programs were allowed to send, these limits have been lifted, allowing for an unlimited number of printed materials to be sent.

This means that college football programs can inundate potential recruits with college-branded posters, stickers, apparel, and more. With so much attention on college athletics and recruiting, it remains important for programs to adhere to NCAA regulations and use good judgment when sending materials to prospects.

While unlimited printing may seem exciting for college football teams, they must ensure they are still operating within the bounds of NCAA rules and proper ethical standards.

4. College football programs are allowed to make unlimited phone calls to prospects.

The college football recruiting process has always been competitive, but with the ability to make unlimited phone calls to prospects, the playing field has become even more uneven. While some programs have the resources and staff to constantly stay in touch with top recruits, smaller college football programs may struggle to keep up.

In addition, this rule can also lead to an increase in unethical behavior, as coaches may pressure recruits or their families to commit early to secure their spot on the team. The NCAA should reconsider its allowance of unlimited phone calls for college football recruiting to level the playing field and prevent the potential exploitation of young athletes.

5. Prospects are allowed to take up to five official visits to college campuses.

As college football recruiting ramps up, prospects are allowed to take up to five official visits to college campuses. During these visits, the college covers all expenses, including transportation, lodging, and meals. Official visits typically involve meeting with coaches and players, attending games or practices, and touring campus facilities.

It is a great opportunity for the prospect to get a better sense of the college's football program and academic offerings. However, it is important to note that a prospect can still only sign a National Letter of Intent with one college on National Signing Day. These official visits should therefore be thoughtfully planned to make an informed decision before committing to a college program.

6. Official visits can last up to 48 hours.

When it comes to college football recruiting, official visits play a crucial role in determining where a prospective player will commit. During an official visit, the school is allowed to fully host the player for up to 48 hours, showing them campus amenities and introducing them to coaches and current players.

These visits often include game day experiences, meetings with academic advisors, and tours of facilities. As a result, they provide valuable information for both the player and the college as they make their decision. While they are limited to just one college program in a single year, these official visits can have a significant impact on where an athlete ultimately chooses to continue their football career.

7. Unofficial visits can be taken at any time and do not have any restrictions on length or number.

When it comes to college football recruiting, unofficial visits can be a valuable tool for both prospective athletes and coaches. These visits do not have any official restrictions on length or number, allowing the athlete to take as many trips as necessary to make an informed decision about their college choice.

While these visits do not come with the same perks and benefits as official visits, they can still provide valuable opportunities for the athlete to get a feel for campus life and meet with coaches and players. Ultimately, unofficial visits offer flexibility in the college football recruiting process and can be a crucial step in finding the right fit for both athlete and the program.

8. College football programs are not allowed to provide any financial assistance for unofficial visits.

In college football recruiting, it's common for programs to invite prospects on unofficial visits, where they can tour the campus and facilities and meet with coaches and players. While these visits can be important in a prospect's decision-making process, college football programs are not allowed to provide any sort of financial assistance, including transportation or lodging costs.

This rule is necessary in ensuring a level playing field among programs, as some may not be able to afford to cover these expenses for multiple recruits. It also helps to prevent any potential violations or conflicts of interest when it comes to college football recruiting.

Without this restriction, programs could potentially gain an unfair advantage by being able to attract higher-profile recruits who may not have the means to pay for their unofficial visits. Ultimately, the prohibition on financial assistance remains an important aspect of college football recruiting.

9. Recruiting services, such as Rivals and 247Sports, play a big role in the process by ranking prospects and providing news and information about them.

In college football, recruiting is a crucial component to building a successful program. Recruiting services, such as Rivals and 247Sports, play a major role in the process by ranking prospects and providing news and updates on their college choices. These rankings can influence the decisions of college coaches as they evaluate talent and offer scholarships.

The services also offer insider information and analysis, allowing fans to stay current on the latest developments in college football recruiting. While these recruiting services may not directly determine a team's success on the field, they are an integral part of the college football landscape and offer valuable insight for coaches, players, and fans alike.

10. Social media is also playing an increasingly bigger role in the process, with many prospects using platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to announce their college decisions.

In college football recruiting, social media has become a significant aspect of the process. In addition to college coaches utilizing platforms to scout potential recruits, many prospects are also using social media to announce their college decisions. These announcements can generate buzz and excitement for both the prospect and their future college team.

However, recruits need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of publicly declaring their choices via social media. In an age where information can spread quickly, announcements on social media may lead to pressure or backlash from fans and even other college programs. As such, those involved in college football recruiting must carefully consider the role that social media plays in their decisions.

11. There are three main signing periods for college football recruits: December, February, and April/May.

The college football recruiting process is carefully planned and executed by both college coaches and potential recruits. As such, there are specific windows of time in which players can officially sign with a college team.

The first signing period falls in early December, right after the high school football season has come to a close. This allows college coaches to immediately start building their roster for the next year. Another signing period takes place in February, giving college teams a chance to pick up any last-minute additions to their roster. Finally, the third and final signing period occurs in April or May, often for any late commitments or transfers from other college teams.

While these signing periods provide structure for the college football recruiting process, it's important to remember that verbal commitments can occur at any time throughout the year. Ultimately, every recruit's journey will be unique and may not follow the traditional timeline.

12. The vast majority of recruits sign during the December period, which is the first period in which they are eligible to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI).

College football recruiting is a complex and intensive process, with college coaches and scouts scouring the country for the best high school players to add to their teams. The majority of these players ultimately choose to commit and sign their National Letter of Intent during the early signing period in December.

This allows college programs to secure top recruits before other schools can try to poach them, as well as giving players a chance to focus on the remainder of their high school season without the added pressure of college recruitment. Though some recruits may wait for the traditional February signing period, the vast majority make their college decision during December's early signing period.

In today's competitive college football landscape, it has become increasingly important for teams to secure their top targets early in the recruiting process.

13. The February signing period is for mid-year enrollees who graduate high school early and enroll in college in time for the spring semester.

While college football recruiting may often conjure images of high school seniors making their college decision during the traditional December signing period, there is also a February signing period. This is for mid-year enrollees, who choose to graduate high school early and begin college in time for the spring semester.

These student-athletes typically take online or community college courses to complete their high school requirements, allowing them to enroll in college in January rather than waiting until the following fall. The February signing period allows college football programs to add more immediate talent to their roster and fill any gaps left by graduating seniors or early departures for the NFL draft.

As college football recruiting continues to evolve and adapt, the February signing period offers another pathway for talented student-athletes to pursue their college and athletic dreams.

14. The April/May signing period is for recruits who did not sign during either of the previous two periods.

For college football recruiting, there are three designated signing periods for prospective players to sign with a university: December, February, and April/May. The April/May period is for those who did not sign during either of the previous two windows. This could be for a variety of reasons such as being undecided about their college choice or not yet meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.

Regardless, this period allows them the opportunity to continue pursuing their college football goals. It also allows college football programs to add any additional recruits they may have missed out on in the earlier periods. Thus, the April/May signing period plays an important role in the college football recruiting process.

15. College football programs are limited in the number of scholarships they can offer each year, with most programs offering around 25 scholarships per year.

College football recruiting can be a fiercely competitive process, with college programs often vying to secure the top high school talent. However, there is a limit on the number of scholarships that can be offered each year. Most college football programs offer around 25 scholarships per year, meaning difficult decisions must be made regarding which players will receive them.

In addition, these limited scholarships also mean that college recruitment must prioritize specific positions and players that fit into the team's overall strategy and game plan. Despite this limitation, college football programs are still able to attract incredibly skilled players through a combination of scouting efforts and strategic recruitment planning.

While it may not always be easy, college coaches can assemble talented teams even with limited scholarships available.

16. Scholarships are not guaranteed for four years and can be rescinded at any time by a program if a recruit violates team rules or fails to meet academic standards set by the school or the NCAA.

While college football recruiting can be highly competitive, with top recruits often receiving scholarship offers from multiple schools, it's important to remember that these scholarships are not guaranteed for the full four years of college.

Athletic programs reserve the right to rescind a scholarship at any time if a recruit fails to meet academic standards or violates team rules. This can be a hard reality for many college athletes and their families, who may have planned heavily on college financial aid. It serves as yet another reminder of the importance of maintaining good grades and staying out of trouble both on and off the field.

As future college athletes, it's crucial to carefully consider not only the athletic opportunities offered by a program but also their academic standards and expectations for conduct.

17. Most scholarship offers are "partial" scholarships, meaning that the athlete will still have to pay some of their own way through school.

The college football recruiting process is a highly competitive one, with players' athletic abilities and college potential being analyzed by coaches all over the country. Yet, when it comes to scholarship offers, many college recruits are faced with the reality that their offers will only cover a portion of their college expenses.

While some might view this as a disappointment, it's important to remember that partial scholarship offers are quite common in college sports. NCAA guidelines state that Division I football teams can only offer 85 full scholarships for players, leaving numerous athletes still responsible for covering part of their college expenses. As a result, athletes should take care to consider not only the quality of their athletic opportunities at a school but also their potential financial responsibilities.

While partial scholarships may not cover all college expenses, they can still provide valuable assistance in pursuing higher education. Ultimately, college football recruits need to weigh all aspects of their scholarship offer before making a final decision on which school to attend.

18. Walk-ons are players who choose to join a college football team without being offered a scholarship.

The college football recruiting process is a highly competitive one, with top high school players often being offered full scholarships to play for their college teams. However, just as there are recruited athletes, there are also walk-ons - players who choose to join a college team without being offered a scholarship.

These athletes have often been overlooked in the recruiting process, but that doesn't mean they are any less dedicated or talented. Many successful college and professional football players started as walk-ons, such as former NFL quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Matt Cassel.

Walk-ons have to work harder to prove themselves on the field and earn a spot on the roster, but for those who are willing to put in the effort, it can lead to great opportunity and success. So don't count out the walk-ons - they have just as much potential as the highly sought-after recruits.

19. Preferred walk-ons are players who may receive some financial assistance from the program but will still have to pay most of their own way through school.

The college football recruiting process can be highly competitive, with top programs vying for the services of the best players in the country. However, not every player who dreams of playing college football is offered a full athletic scholarship.

That's where preferred walk-ons come in. These players may receive some assistance from the program, but they are still responsible for most of their college expenses. It's a difficult decision to make, as these players may not get traditional recognition or accolades within the program. But for those willing to work hard and persevere, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

And in some cases, preferred walk-ons have gone on to earn full scholarships and even achieve success at the professional level. So while they may start out as underdogs, preferred walk-ons should never be underestimated or overlooked. They bring passion and determination to the team, and that can often be just as valuable as natural talent or physical ability.

20. Gray shirts are players who delay their enrollment in college until mid-year so that they will count towards the following year's recruiting class instead of the current year's class.

The college football recruiting process can be a cutthroat and highly competitive environment, with schools vying for the best prospects to join their team. As a result, some players will choose to delay their college enrollment and become "gray shirts."

This allows them to count towards the following year's recruiting class, rather than the current year's – potentially giving their college team an extra edge in building a strong roster. However, there are also potential drawbacks to this decision. Gray shirting can lead to a delay in beginning college coursework and/or participating in athletic training programs, as well as potentially complicating financial aid opportunities.

Ultimately, it is up to each player and their support system to weigh the pros and cons of gray shirting to make the best decision for their future.


College football recruiting is a process that takes time, effort, and dedication. By understanding the rules behind recruiting, you can put yourself in a better position to succeed. And if you're looking for help taking your recruiting to the next level, we've got you covered. Our team of experts can help you navigate the college football recruiting process and maximize your chances of success. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

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