The Change in the Recruitment Process for High School Athletes Due to Covid-19

By Will Denio Many high school student-athletes dream of taking their game to the next level and playing their sport in college. For most sports, the recruitment process starts in the fall of the athletes junior year. Although it varies for different sports, the window of opportunity for student-athletes to get recruited is very minimal. It is important for athletes to start reaching out to college coaches during this time. First it is important to understand how the process works. There are five types of recruitment periods. They are defined by when and how college coaches contact prospective student athletes at their institution. The first period is the Contact Period. This is when the college coaches are able to start attending tournaments and competitions. The Contact Period includes face-to-face meetings at these events. The next period in the process is the Evaluation Period. This is when coaches can visit high schools and will start writing and calling athletes. However there is no off campus contact with said athletes. The third period is known as the Quiet Period. The only form of contact is on campus and through email. The next period is the Dead Period. This is when there is absolutely no face to face contact, which means no on campus visits and no home/in person visits. Finally, the last period is described as the Recruiting Shut Down. This means that there is absolutely no contact between athletes and coaches. However, with Covid-19 many AAU/travel and high school seasons are being postponed or cancelled. This means the recruitment periods have been delayed. The NCAA has extended the dead period for all division one athletics through January 1st of 2021. For division two, the quiet period has ended and coaches are able to participate in all types of recruitment. Division three is slightly different, no major changes have been announced but the NCAA suggests reaching out to the schools you’ve been in contact with to inquire about their changes in recruitment plans. Not only are these restrictions in place, the NCAA also recommends that official and unofficial visits to campuses should be suspended. What does this mean for you? If you are currently a high school athlete that wants to further your education and athletics in college, it is important to understand how these changes affect you. Due to limited time to scout players, many division one schools are changing the ways they offer scholarships. They are struggling to maintain roster flexibility so it is very difficult to offer scholarships the same way they used to. Coaches are starting to make grayshirt and redshirt offers. Grayshirt offers are when the team offers an athlete a scholarship at the beginning of the second semester. During the first semester the player is a part-time student at the school or another junior college nearby. Redshirting is a little bit different. When redshirting, athletes don’t play in any games for that season, you simply practice with the team and go to class. Coaches redshirt and grayshirt players because it saves their eligibility, meaning they can play longer. If you have a scheduled on-campus visit, it is advised that you contact the program to check the status of your visit. As for off-campus visits, they are currently suspended, but coaches can still reach out via email, text and direct message as long as they meet the NCAA guidelines. Restrictions due to Covid have made it extremely important that you have an online recruiting profile. Coaches are overburdened with new restrictions and will most likely not get the chance to watch you in person, so they will likely turn to the web for information on high school athletes. If you have a strong recruitment profile online, it gives you a clear-cut advantage over someone who is waiting for the coaches to do all the work. Reaching out to coaches is an absolute necessity if you wish to play sports at the next level. You can reach out to them through email, texting, direct messages and phone calls. Almost all schools, no matter what division, have information on how to get in contact with their coaches. Do your research before contacting them. Find out if the school and coach will be a good fit. If you want to be a college athlete you must understand the various ways in which Covid-19 has delayed, changed and stopped the recruitment process. Keep in mind that even though many changes are in place, it is still very possible to become a college athlete.