Once a coach has scouted you, offered you, had you to campus for an official or unofficial visit there will probably come a time when they will begin to put the pressure on you to commit. The goal of every recruiting cycle is to sign the best player to each available scholarship. This phase is a lot like the weeks before Homecoming… when every guy is trying to convince the prettiest girl in school to go to the dance with them. Every coaching staff wants their #1 choice to say yes and to end any speculation about them having interest in any other school.
Each staff sits down and determines their needs by position for the next few years – where will the team be in one or two years? What spots will be open or what positions do they need depth at?
Coaches don’t begin this process the summer before your senior year, they begin it during your freshman and sophomore years!
Coaches first look at their roster – our QB will be a senior in two years, are we comfortable with the next guy in line and who will be the backup to him? What positions need better depth? What if someone gets injured? Is there a chance that our freshman center will go to the NBA after next season? Three projected starters on our offensive line will be seniors in two years, who will be in the system by that time and are they ready to lead? Since predicting the future is impossible, all coaches can do is make several projections and base their recruiting needs from there. Normally they put priority on certain positions and little or no priority on others, just depending on who is already on the roster or signed for next two or three seasons.
Once a coach has zeroed in on you and started building those relationships with your inner circle, is getting positive feedback on your interest in the program, there comes a time when they’ll start putting some sort of pressure on you to commit. They want to lock you up and focus on the next priority on their list. They’ll still continue to communicate with you and recruit you (call you and come to your games) but they’ll also want to shift their focus on getting a commitment from the next biggest position need.
As you get deeper in the recruiting process, dominos start falling. Coaches have a ranked list by position of their needs and wants. Their #1 WR, #2 WR, #3 WR and so on. There will come a time when players around the country (or state) start committing and there’s a scramble to put the pressure on the best available players. A school may have ranked the top WR target for their system, but if they’re getting little positive communication back, and if they know that player is listening to many other pitches, they may go for the ‘definite’ player who may be a little lower on their list but who will be more likely to commit. Coaches ask, “Who is the BEST player that we can REALISTICALLY get and how long can we wait on our top targets?”
There are some cases when coaches will hang on to an extra scholarship until Signing Day or later for a big-time player for their program. Big name programs know that they can hold out until the last minute for that star recruit, and if they are rejected they can still find a great player that will accept the offer down the road. I’ve worked with some coaches who hang on to scholarships until they are 100% sure of a player.
Everyone wants to go to the dance with the best option—who will say yes—so if coaches aren’t getting the vibe that they have a realistic shot with you, they may move on to the next-best player available.
You might not have much of a warning, so don’t play coy. If you are interested, be up front about it. If you are unsure, tell the coach you are still doing your research. If you are in love with them, let them know before they move on to somebody else!