What You Need to Know About Verbal Commitments
The recruiting process can be like boarding an airplane. The plane may taking you where you want to go, but if you are uncertain about what awaits when upon landing, you will feel anxious. Add to that, you are put on the airplane several years before your were ready to take the trip. College coaches are asking young high school students, even 8th graders to board the plane early by asking for verbal commitments. This is the daunting reality for a large number of talented athletes and their parents.
I am excited to bring you the first part in a series of videos: “Answers to Your Recruiting Questions”. We have teamed up with Cheri Naudin from College Sports Advocates. Cheri has been connecting high school players to college coaches for decades. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience working through the recruiting process. Collegiate Sports Advocate is a National Company designed to utilize their 40 years of Sports-Specific experience, guiding, consulting, recruiting, coaching, and training Student Athletes that desire to play Collegiate Sports.
We have the interview in two forms: Video and Written. They are each unique, but similar in content. For sure, watch the video. It is only a 80 seconds long, but is full of valuable tips regarding verbal commitments.
Read on for the written part of the interview, packed with insights which college coaches are reluctant to go on record or give many specifics about.
The process of committing to a college team can be confusing. Athletes are committing to programs earlier than ever before. Athletes as young as 8th and 9th grade are verbally committing to schools. How is that even possible before a college coach is allowed to speak to a player? Many of you will be faced with coaches expecting early decisions, long before you are allowed to sign a Letter of Intent your senior year.
Here is my interview with Cheri Naudin:
College coaches are focusing on different graduating classes, depending on what level they coach and what their needs are for the coming years. What is a typical timeline players need to be contacting college coaches at D1, D2, D3, NAIA, and NJCAA levels? When is it too late for D1?
The timeline for getting into the recruiting process depends on so many variables. That is why we formed Collegiate Sports Advocate. The match is so much more important than the division. The level of talent in each division is not indicative of the level of play. There is no doubt some of the top NCAA Division I teams are amazing and have some of the top talent in the country. Then you could say that about the top layer in Division II and Division III.
We are huge fans of NAIA a completely different organization of colleges that play sports. To find the right fit you must evaluate the Student Athletes level of play and their ability to compete academically alone with the region of the country and the culture within the University. We have so many clients that value the outcome of the Education that the Student Athlete would receive and where their Faith is respected and encouraged on the campus.
It is also so important to really know the Coaching Staff and evaluate if they’re going to be great mentors to your Student Athlete as they will be the most important role model for them in very important adult forming years of their lives. The early commitments make this very difficult because that Coach may take another position in another program so the culture within the Athletic department and other campus programs that will develop your Student Athlete is important.
I do not believe that College Coaches and Parents spend enough time getting to know each other before making such a major commitment to each other. We value this connection and help evaluate the fit for the College Coaches and the family.
We have seen early verbals in 8th grade for class of ’21 and a large group of ‘20’s have verbally committed already. What parents are not able to see if how far ahead of the actual verbal that these Student Athletes have been in the recruiting process already. They’ve been seen in 12U championships, 14U National Championships and then they bring them to camps and clinics for further evaluation. Then they bring them on campus and if they’re an early recruit with top level talent that means they’re probably seeing other campus’s too which all takes time. These super elite early commits have been top of their game with God given talent since they stepped on the field. They’ve been competing at the highest layer of the sport and have been organically confirmed by trusted travel ball Coaches and our firm that has already had ’22 elite level athletes on campus. It is not for the mass, it is for the few. We do not try to race the commitment as we’re focused on a long-term match. We will advise them when the time is right for their level of play. You really need a trusted, experienced resource as some travel ball Coaches, Parents and even College Coaches are in a race for the top talent and early commit.
High school athletes are being asked for verbal commitments from college coaches earlier and earlier. It is difficult enough for a 17 or 18 year old to know what they want to do. What is your advice to 14, 15 and 16 year old athletes who are being asked to make a verbal commitment?
I covered some in the above paragraph. I truly believe this is the number value in what our firm is trying to accomplish. The risk for a College Coach to verbal a Student Athlete even in Junior High has to be an amazing athlete from an amazing family with talent that is so undeniable. The time that they need to stay committed is also a huge responsibility for a travel team. Just because it is a nationally recognized brand does not help the college coach making the early commitment, it has to be a proven brand with a trusted travel Coach.
There are a very select group of top teams in top programs where college coaches feel comfortable recruiting from at an early age. Does that travel Coach have experience PREPARING college ready athletes? If not, and they’re unfamiliar with that particular “coach” not brand, then it makes it really risky that the Student Athlete will get properly trained and compete against the level of teams and talent necessary to compete when they get to college.
There lies another problem with early recruiting; what many refer to as “Verbal and Vanish”. A Student Athlete has the talent to play on a top team in the country, makes the sacrifice to play for them traveling all over the United States to get seen by the top coaches and once they make that commitment, they quit, stay close to home and go back playing in a not so competitive environment. They then get to college, not in shape, not ready to play against the top talent and find themselves on the bench or bewildered at why the gap of talent is so wide.
Unfortunately, we are not big fans of the early verbal’s but do have to advise Student Athletes to the timing of each program and when the College Coaches are ready to spend the money. If you’re not ready when they want to select you they have to go on to other recruits or the college coaches miss out on the talent available at the time that they’re available too! It goes both ways.
We are not fans of Student Athletes sitting on offers trying to stack them up in hopes of getting something better. We use a Decision Tree to help the Student Athletes know what they’re looking for and be ready to decide if the program meets their needs. If not, we tell them to decline and move on, letting the College Coaches have a fair chance at other players.
What happens to a recruit who verbally commits and then before they get to college, the coach leaves?
This is happening more and more because the time in-between verbal and graduation can be as long as 10 years. If you verbal a 7th or 8th grader, then there is potentially 9 years. There are many programs with coaches that have been at programs that long but then you risk their retirement in that time span too.
If a College Coach leaves we see a lot of things happen, your Student Athlete might not be the “style” that this New College Coach is looking for. They may want to transfer in some of their verbal recruits or junior college players that they had identified at their previous program. Collegiate Sports Advocate’s see this as a very difficult time with a lot of variables and that is why we stay with the Student Athlete until College Graduation.
There are NCAA and NAIA rules and regulations that we NEVER get involved with quoting but help the Student Athletes get involved with Athletic Directors and advisors to guide them with the proper procedures.
We have seen College Coaches drop all verbal’s except those that have signed their National Letters of Intent (NLI). Once the new College Coach comes in if they do not want that athletes that are there, they have ways of making it not so comfortable. Very disheartening.
How is it even possible for a player to commit to a college before the coach is allowed to speak them? How is this being done?
This approach has been happening for many years. The coaches are allowed to speak with Student Athletes at camps and at other times depending on the Conference and the Governing body. NCAA Division 1 for example can talk to them after tournaments and during camps. That is why the camp process is so popular.
If they invite them for an unofficial visit on campus they can sit down and talk about a verbal commitment and the terms of the commitment but this is not handed to them in writing.
The travel ball coach is a key connector in this process, again why it is so important to play for coaches that “really” do have a polished track record and have committed kids to that particular program before. CSA is also very involved and can communicate for the Student Athletes in the process.
This tightly managed process has its loop holes and makes it difficult for the families and College Coaches to take the time necessary to get to know if the Student Athlete is the right fit. This is why having a reliable truthful company like ours is a key component and the College Coaches rely on us and we stake our reputation on this relationship part of recruiting. We make the Student Athlete our priority outside of their Travel Teams agendas and College Coaches selections.
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Collegiate Sports Advocate is a National Company designed to utilize their 40 years of Sports-Specific experience, guiding, consulting, recruiting, coaching, and training Student Athletes that desire to play Collegiate Sports. CSA develops an individual plan for each Student Athlete that helps them navigate the recruiting experience as each Student Athlete has their own path and their own journey. We proactively communicate with College Coaches by attending major tournaments and events. CSA utilizes updated marketing and training techniques to provide the Student Athlete with the most dynamic exposure in the industry. We are truly an Advocate for the Student Athlete guiding the entire family through the process. Our goal is to see the Student Athlete Graduate College and “enjoy” their Student Athletic opportunity by helping them find the right match!