Going to College Archive

How do Players Verbally Commit to Schools so Early in the Process?

Understanding NCAA rules can help you get ahead in the recruiting world

In the past several years, players, parents and coaches have all witnessed a number of significant changes with how the recruiting process works throughout the world of junior golf. The most obvious change has been the timing of when some players commit to schools. Many Division I programs have at least one, if not all, of their commitments before the prospects complete their junior year in high school. While this is not true for all recruits or college golf programs, it has become common enough to explore further.

How does this happen so early?

NCAA rules allow prospects to visit campuses at their own expense anytime. These campus tours are referred to as unofficial visits and can occur even when the prospect is very young (eighth, ninth and tenth grades for example). The main benefit to a prospect making an unofficial visit is the opportunity to meet with the coach to learn more about the school and golf program. Other than during Dead Periods, NCAA rules now allow Division I coaches to meet with prospects on campus beginning September 1st of the prospectís junior year in high school. Official visits to Division I schools, typically offered to highly-recruited prospects, can now occur as early as September 1 of a prospectís junior year in high school. These face-to-face meetings are a great way to learn more about the school and golf program, the coach, their interest in recruiting you and how the recruiting process will unfold. Keep in mind there are several ďDead PeriodsĒ in college golf recruiting where Division I coaches cannot meet with prospects or their parents during either official or unofficial campus visits. (See NCAA Official Website for more detail on these restrictions.)

Once in eleventh grade, recruits may receive letters and emails from coaches interested in recruiting them. This is the first opportunity for Division I coaches to initiate any contact with a prospect other than sending a one-time generic athletic questionnaire. Phone calls and text messages from Division I coaches can also occur at the coachís discretion beginning September 1 of the prospectís junior year of high school. Prospects and their parents, however, are allowed to call coaches anytime. This is a key step in making an initial introduction to a coach. Although Division I coaches cannot initiate or return calls prior to September 1 of the prospectís junior year, prospects can call and introduce themselves as potential recruits, even as early as their freshmen or sophomore years in high school. Always do your homework first before calling a coach to make sure the prospect has the necessary academic and athletic qualifications to attend the school. Is this school and golf program a good fit?

Every prospect should ultimately visit the school(s) they are interested in attending. This cannot be over emphasized considering what they learn during these visits will influence and affect where they decide to spend four years of their life. Some scholarship and/or roster position offers are made during these campus visits but only in a verbal manner. Official National Letter of Intent signings can only occur either in mid-November or later after mid-April during the prospectís senior year in high school. Always stay proactive by arranging unofficial visits, especially if letters, emails, calls or text messages are being received from the school during the prospectís junior year and the prospect has interest in that school.

College coaches can still call non-family members early on in the recruiting process to gather information relative to a prospectís golf and academic resume and also to express interest in recruiting the prospect. In these cases, college coaches may provide their phone number and suggest having the prospect or the prospectís parents call them to learn more about the school, golf program, and recruiting opportunities available for that prospect. In recent years, this has become a more common practice with some coaches.

A word of caution for anyone who is interested in making an early verbal commitment: THINGS CAN CHANGE! While you may think a school is right for you, what will happen if the coach leaves or your golf game changes significantly to a different level? Be slow, deliberate and careful to make the right decision. Once you give the coach your word, make sure it is final. This is what you should expect from the coach as well.

Play well!

Coach Brooks
Red Numbers Golfģ

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