Whether choosing a school as a blue-chip prospect with 50 scholarship offers or as a Division III non-scholarship athlete, the process of choosing a school will be time-consuming and overwhelming.

It is very important to develop your personal selection criteria that will help you through the process – and prioritize it based on your non-negotiables and your preferences. Before the process becomes cluttered and overwhelming, what are the core factors that you need to be happy and successful?

There are four core factors that you need to research:

#1: Academics
#2: Town and University Community
#3: Athletic Department
#4: Your Specific Team/Position

It is each COACHES’ job to sign the best athletes that will put their program in the best position to win. As a staff, they have clearly defined their ‘must-haves’ in prospective student-athletes at each position. It is YOUR job to define what you need, to do your research and to ask the right questions in order to put yourself in the best position possible to succeed. Don’t forget—your job is just as important as their job during the evaluation process!

Determine the handful of core factors that you will be making your decision off of, and stick to evaluating those! Don’t get heavily influenced by the other things that truly aren’t important to you! Coaches may be throwing the kitchen sink at you in terms of what they have to offer, but many of those things may not be what is truly important to you in the long run. Don’t get distracted!

Take a page from NFL scouts: they ask receptionists, lunch ladies, trainers, coaches, stadium security guards and anyone else a player may come in contact with to find out their true colors—not just how they act around coaches or perform on the field. An NFL prospects ‘true colors’ are almost as important as their athletic ability when it comes to breaking down the top talent, how is the player mentally, spiritually and what type of person are they? How do they handle success, how do they handle adversity? How do they act behind closed doors or when the cameras are off and when the recruits aren’t around? NFL teams are making decisions between one player and another and investing millions and millions of dollars into draft picks—they need to know about every aspect of their life. YOU should take that same consideration with programs and coaches. It’s more about what they’re not telling you that you need to look into. Do your research!

Don’t let one bad comment or opinion take a school off your list—a lot of dirty recruiting goes on—but listen to PATTERNS. If more and more people have the same reaction to a coach or a program, good or bad, listen. It won’t take long to get a good picture when you ask enough people.

Ask several people who personally know the coaches you are evaluating—ask them who they would like their children to play for? Don’t let them influence your decision necessarily, but instead you are looking for a PATTERN!!!


#1: What are grad rates of your sport nationally, and how do they compare to the schools that you are looking at? Does that university and your specific team graduate their players? What percentage of that teams’ players have graduated in the last 5-10 years?

#2: What are the grad rates for the coaches that you are thinking about playing for? Have they made graduating their players a priority over their career? What percentage of that coaches’ players (even if they were at another school) have graduated in the last 5-10 years?

#3: Will distance be a factor—do you want to stay within a certain distance from home or do you specifically want to go far away to school?

#4: At some point, ALL players get frustrated with an adversity they face in their athletic career and the first target of that frustration is often living in a city that they don’t like. You will need a balance! Do you like what the town has to offer off-campus—outdoor activities, beaches, arts, concerts, shopping, other sports teams, etc?

#5: Are all of the other teams at that school successful within the conference and in post-season play? Is the Athletic Director and leadership happy being competitive or are they able to provide all teams the resources to win? Do all of the teams win on a consistent level?

#6: How many players AT YOUR POSITION do they plan to sign in your graduating class? How many players at your position have already committed, how many slots are left?

#7: What is the average class size? Check the official admissions information from each university for official stats, not just what the coaches are telling you!

#8: If considering several offers, does the athletic department have the resources (booster money/corporate sponsors) to hire great coaches and provide several competitive advantages in terms of resources and operating budget? Is the team “doing more with less” and expecting championships on a shoestring budget or are they providing the competitive resources needed to win consistently?

#9: What is the head coach’s personality? Players often mimic their coaches, are they great people? Do they only care about winning or do they truly put their players first in terms of lessons that they are teaching them and standards they are setting? Are they womanizers, cheaters, excuse makers, mentally/physically abusive, etc? When you are spending time with the current players ask them how the head coach treats them once they are enrolled—surprisingly, they will usually tell you the truth, good or bad.

#10: What is their plan for you? No starting job is ever guaranteed, even if they may promise it during the recruiting process. Ask them for their plan and also evaluate the roster for yourself.




– What percentage of classes have fewer than 30 students? Fewer than 50 students? What are the class sizes within your intended major?

– Do they offer a major that you are interested in?

– Can you sit in on a class during your visit, particularly in your desired major?

– What are the freshman year credit requirements? What will be your freshman year required classes?

– What is the coach’s or department’s class attendance policy?

– Do you plan on taking summer school classes and what is the department’s policy on summer school?

– Do athletes have required study hall hours? What is the team’s policy on required study hall?

– What is a sample daily schedule like during the season and in the off-season?

– Are tutors available? What technology resources are available to student-athletes?

– Does the athletic department or school help with networking or job fairs?

– Has the team or department had any academic scandals within recent years?

– If applicable, are there special accommodations for students with learning disabilities? If so, what do they include?

– Check out what the other players select as majors—do they put student-athletes in “easy” programs? Are several players majoring in “General Studies” or similar programs or are they in tougher majors?

– If you plan on going to grad school, law school or medical school—are you in a program that will help you accomplish your future goals and get into the programs that you are interested in?

– Is the academic program a national leader? Is that something that is important to you or are you more interested in “hands on” opportunities with internships?

– If you are interested in internships, are you in the right city where you may be able to network and find these positions? Does the school place students in great internships?

– Do major companies recruit students from that university?



– Schools are usually either in small towns and have a “college town” feel or are in big cities—are you comfortable? Some big-city people get bored easily in small towns or those from small towns are overwhelmed in big cities—do you like the community you will be living in?

– Are you interested in living in a new place outside of your comfort zone for a few years? Move to big city, move out of big city, major climate change, closer to other family/friends—will you be moving to a city that you’ve always dreamed of living in?

– There is a good chance that your coach won’t be there throughout your entire career (it’s the nature of the business)—will you still be happy in that town without the coach you are going to play for?

– If you have a spouse and/or children—how will that play into your decision? Is distance a factor? Will they be moving with you? Can you talk to players at the schools that you are interested that are also married or are parents and see how they are able to manage the transition? Do they offer family housing?



– What do the other athletes think of the Athletic Director and their interactions with them? Does the Athletic Department have great leadership?

– Is the department improving and always bringing in more resources and improvements? Facilities, technology, new athletic training treatments?

– Are the players respected in the community as positive role models? Do they have a history with legal issues?

– Is the Athletic Department profiting? What is their operating budget and how does it compare to the other schools that you are looking at?

– If the department sponsors several teams, are they stretching the budget really thin or does your team have the resources to succeed and compete within the conference or nationally?



– Is the team on the rise? Is there a strong foundation of quality players already in the system that you can learn from and win with? Are they starting from scratch or are there great pieces already in place?

– Will you have time to develop or will you be thrown into the fire as a freshman and expected to deliver or carry the team?

– What is the record of success of the program in last 5-10 years? If the coaching staff is new, what is their track record of success at previous schools?

– Are there any great leaders or mentors that you can learn from?

– Does the team have the opportunity to be a major upset team, does that excite you? Do they play with exceptional heart and like the underdog role?

– If you are a major football or basketball Division I prospect, does the team charter flights for most of their road games so that you will miss less class time? Do they bring tutors or academic counselors on the road?

– Are there certain traditions that you would like to be a part of at a particular school?

– Are their games televised so that your friends and family can watch you often?

– Is there a path for your team to play for a championship or major post-season opportunity?

– Do you want to be a part of a major regional or national rivalry?

– What does the conference offer in terms of academic prestige, competition, tradition, exposure?

– Do the students show up to the games? Is there good attendance at games? Is school spirit and pageantry important to you

– Is the stadium close to campus? Is it a place you’ve always dreamed of playing?

– Are the teams disciplined on the field or do they make stupid mistakes? Are they undisciplined off-the field with arrests, suspensions or scandals?

– Are the players accountable to each other and competitive? Do they have a positive attitude, work ethic and desire to get better?

– Can you help recruit a ‘super class’ of other recruits who can come in and make a difference, especially at an underdog team?

– What are the dining halls like? Do they have nutritionists who will help you with nutrition, vitamins, supplements, etc

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A.P. Bah Bioh brings over 16 seasons of experience to 1,001 Recruit Tips, having worked for some of the best recruiters in sports, including three "National Coach of the Year" winners -- Urban Meyer, Frank Haith and Jim Larranaga -- along with 70+ NCAA coaches while at Elon University, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Florida and the University of Miami. Working primarily with football and men's basketball, Bah Bioh also spent time working with Olympic Sport coaching staffs including softball, women's lacrosse, fencing, golf, tennis and rowing. Bah Bioh has been part of numerous championships including the 2007 Florida Gator BCS National Championship; 2006 Florida Gator SEC Football Championship; the 2013 ACC Men's Basketball Championship and Sweet 16 NCAA Tourney run with the Miami Hurricanes that included both tournament and regular-season ACC titles; a 2002 UNC ACC Women's Lacrosse Championship and Final Four finish; a 2001 UNC ACC Softball championship and as a senior, was part of the 1999 Elon Football team that finished with a 9-2 record, one of the best seasons in program history. Over the years, Bah Bioh has worked with over 30 first-round draft selections (NFL, NBA, MLB) and numerous players who went on to sign professional contracts including Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Rex Grossman, Percy Harvin, Mike and Markuice Pouncey, Shane Larkin, Joe Haden and many more!