FAQs: College Recruiting

1.When should I start reaching out to colleges?

Because of some new rules in the past couple years, almost all forms of contact are allowed starting June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year, including verbal offers, emails, calls, texts and recruiting letters. Even then, typically boys get recruited later than girls do. Junior year for girls, senior year for boys.

2.What is the difference between DI, DII, DIII, and NAIA schools?

While the official difference is school size, from a soccer standpoint, noticeable differences in divisions are physical size (especially with girls) and speed of play. Major division I schools (A&M, SMU) typically do their recruiting far in advance; while DII, DIII, and NAIA schools usually recruit year-by-year. Soccer is fortunate enough that the talent is more blended than a sport like football. NAIA is a separate entity much like the NCAA. Their rules are a lot more lenient; scholarship opportunities and eligibility differ from NCAA.

3.Can I get a scholarship to play?

If you plan on playing soccer in college there is no such thing as a “full-ride.” Yes, athletic scholarships are available at the Division I, Division II, and NAIA level, but for all-levels, academic scholarships, grants, and merit aid scholarships can be awarded. The word scholarship is often misinterpreted. Not being a “scholarship” player has no reflection on recruitment or ability.

4. “I want to play at a big school” … What kind of schools are in Texas?

Sorry fellas, while there are 21 women’s division I programs in Texas, there are only 4 on the men’s side. The good news is there are 62 total 4-year colleges/universities for both men and women to play for just in Texas alone!

5. Is it difficult to get recruited outside of Texas?

You might notice I keep speaking only about Texas schools. The answer is blurry; it’s yes and no. A lot of schools outside of Texas are hesitant to come recruit heavily in Texas because there are so many schools (see above) already picking up all the talent. That being said, schools outside of Texas are VERY interested in recruits coming out of Texas because (a) Texas is a highly rated soccer state and (b) of our population compared to other states, our talent level is flooded compared to theirs.

6. What’s the best way to advocate for yourself?

I cannot stress enough how important it is to send emails out to both head and assistant coaches. If you even have the SLIGHTEST interest in a school, go after them and get it. Attend their ID camps, stay in touch with them. If you know people who know the coaches (trainers, former/current players, alumni), then have them advocate for you. Coaches are interested in you and a thousand other kids playing. If you don’t make yourself noticed OFF the field, you become too easy to get skipped over, even if your ability as a soccer player is fantastic.

7. Do recruiting websites work? What about recruiting tools like EXACT and College Soccer Exposure camps?

Recruiting websites such as NCSA and Top Drawer Soccer can absolutely be useful, but they can be expensive and I personally feel they are only a gateway to recruiting. The market has been flooded, so coaches are skimming through thousands of profiles and hundreds (if not thousands) of video clips of players playing. After a while it becomes monotonous. As a result, players are emailed or invited to camps in bulk instead of individually.

As for the Exact and CSE ID camps, once again, I feel like they have lost touch about what their ultimate goal is for players. It is very expensive; the numbers at the camp are very big. There is such a wide variety of talent, sometimes it can be difficult to get a gauge.

I understand my negative bias towards these options, so I’ll also mention: these programs can all be beneficial and obviously players have gained opportunity and success through them. However, I simply believe there are more cost-effective and personal ways to approach the recruiting process.