How Hard is it to Get into College Football?
We get asked this question a lot, “How hard is it to get into college football?” And the answer is, it depends.
There are 1,268 Division I college football programs and each team has 85 scholarship spots. That means there are approximately 108,000 college football players in the United States. So your odds of playing college football are pretty good, but getting a scholarship is another story.
Division I colleges can offer full scholarships or they can split them up between multiple players. And remember, these aren’t free rides. Players still have to pay for books, tuition, room and board, and living expenses.
The number of scholarships a school can offer is determined by the NCAA and it’s based on a formula that includes the number of players who graduated from the previous year’s team. So if a team has a high graduation rate, they can offer more scholarships the following year.
The bottom line is, if you want to play football in college, you need to be good enough to attract attention from college coaches and you need to have good grades so you’re eligible to play. But it’s not impossible. There are plenty of players who weren’t highly recruited coming out of high school and who went on to have successful college careers.
The Recruiting Process
The recruiting process starts early these days. Coaches are allowed to contact players as early as September 1st of their junior year in high school. They can send handwritten letters, emails, and text messages but they can’t call them or have face-to-face contact until June 15th following the player’s junior year.
Coaches will often come to see players during spring practices or attend their games during the fall. If they like what they see, they’ll invite the player to their campus for an official visit which the player can take starting January 1st of their senior year. During an official visit, the school can pay for travel expenses, meals, and lodging for up to 48 hours. The player can also take an unofficial visit at any time but the school can only provide three tickets to the game for family members or friends.
Players can sign a National Letter of Intent during one of two signing periods. The early signing period is from December 20th-22nd and then again from February 7th-April 1st. Players who don’t sign during the early signing period still have until April 1st to sign with a school or they lose their eligibility for that year. Once a player signs a National Letter of Intent, they are committed to that school and cannot sign with another school even if the coach leaves or gets fired before they start playing.
This process may seem unfair to smaller schools but it protects both the player and the school by ensuring that both parties are invested in each other for the long haul. It also allows schools to plan because they know how many scholarships they have available for future recruiting classes.
The path to becoming a collegiate athlete is different for every sport but football is unique in that there is only one season per year so timing is everything when it comes to your recruitment process.
The journey toward becoming a collegiate athlete is filled with many
challenges however with dedication and discipline anything is possible!
If potential students focus on excelling academically as well as
athletically then there are many opportunities available for those
passionate about joining college football teams!