August 23, 2021
Each year, we host approximately 2500 student-athletes and their families and speak with thousands more via email and phone. In August and September, the most frequently asked question we get as we speak with student-athletes and families has to do with the timing of our fall showcases (mid-September in California and late-September in Florida): what are the types of recruiting opportunities available at the schools in attendance?
This is a great question – and one that has some nuance and detail specific to a student-athlete’s goals and grad year, as well as where they are in the recruiting process with various schools.
For rising seniors, the root of the question is whether these schools are still recruiting the class of 2022 in September. We hear from a lot of seniors who either believe or have been told that all programs are done recruiting 2022s by the fall, and that September is too late for them to impact their recruiting. Given the track record of seniors coming to our fall showcases and committing to our partner programs in the weeks and months after, this is false – though the opportunities may be more limited than they were earlier in the summer.
So: are the schools in attendance recruiting 2022s in September? The short answer is “yes” – but let’s dig in deeper.
We think about the recruiting-admissions process in three distinct phases:
For many coaches and programs – but certainly not all – our showcases in August largely closed the book on Phase #1. July and August is the time of the recruiting season when college coaches try to finalize the bulk of their active recruiting list and incoming class. With this list of recruits, many coaches in August and September are in the process now of going to their admissions departments for “early reads” of the transcripts and test scores to get an idea of how their recruiting class lines up with the admissions standards, goals and long–term vision of the school as a whole.
While a lot of coaches try to wrap up their Early Admissions recruiting class in August, many of them will still be looking for 2022s in September, whether because some of the “pre-reads” don’t come back favorably or because coaches are still looking for a piece or two (usually position-specific) to round out their class. The higher up the college baseball ladder you go, the more limited these spots are going to be – so for Division 1 programs, there will likely be fewer spots, with more availability at the Division 3 level. Note: this is a general rule painted in broad strokes, and it can vary significantly both from year-to-year and from program-to-program – even at peer schools competing at the same level. Because the open spots are more limited, it is important for 2022s to arrive at camp with an open mind, ready to discover new schools that have qualities in common with their target schools (for more info on how to effectively think about and build your list of target schools, take a look at Part 3 of the Honor Roll “Pre-Camp Curriculum”).
These September weekends for most programs represent the last few dates that they’re actively recruiting the senior/incoming recruiting class, as they work to round out their class before admissions deadlines in November. Because of this ticking clock, even a week or two can make a difference in whether or not a program has availability in their recruiting class.
But even for student-athletes who aren’t able to neatly package and wrap their recruiting process by November 1, there are other “finish lines” to the recruiting process – which are also served by getting the right exposure in September. Inevitably, between now and the Early Admissions deadlines (which generally fall either on November 1st or November 15th), some of these top recruits do not make it all the way through to admission. Whether because of their application read from the admissions department, or because a student-athlete’s top school choice changes, one or more of these recruits dropping out of the process at a given school can create an opportunity for someone else that was on the recruiting list – or a student-athlete they find at the right time this fall.
The changes of the Early Admission window create opportunities for student-athletes who haven’t committed to a school yet – most programs are now once again recruiting the senior class to fill out the slots vacated by recent turnover. Because our fall Honor Roll Camps are set prior to this period of change, they offer a prime opportunity for uncommitted student-athletes to to get exposure to the schools high on their list so that you’re on the recruiting radar and in the conversation. With a few months until regular admission deadlines, there is now time for seniors to fill these vacated slots, this time through the Regular Admission time window. The weeks between our fall showcases and the New Year are a time when the recruiting process can move quickly to get student-athletes recruited and into the admissions funnel at top academic schools.
The timing of the first two admissions phases is exactly why we schedule our showcase when we do – and also part of why we see student-athletes get recruited out of our fall camps each year to some of the top schools in the country.
The third and final foothold for admission is as the “recruited walk–on”. No matter the time of year, coaches at these high-academic schools are looking for student-athletes who have the grades and test scores to gain admission without coach support to compete for a roster spot and potentially impact their baseball program. So, for student-athletes with their sights set high, this fall in Woodland or St. Petersburg is the perfect time to play one last time in front of these coaches before normal application deadlines in January to set up their opportunity at their dream school.
As we’ve said before, finding the right school is a question of the holistic fit of the school. And, because of the nature of the recruited walk–on, it’s more of a gamble as to whether you’ll make the team or play a significant role on the team – so you have to ask yourself: is the baseball program an athletic fit?
If you really like a school and program, you cannot be afraid to get in front of that coach and show what you can do. Once you’re on campus and have your opportunity, you have a chance to compete for playing time and to control your own destiny.
When we speak with underclassmen, the questions that come up most frequently are “Is it too early to start getting recruited?” or “are college coaches recruiting my class yet?”
Because of the timing of our Southeast and West Fall showcases where they are in the admissions process – right as coaches are putting the finishing touches on their incoming recruiting class – at this time of year coaches are beginning to build out their recruiting lists for future years, which means unique opportunity for underclassmen to get a jumpstart on their recruiting process.
For the class of 2023 in particular, the timing of these fall showcases comes right after the important September 1st contact date – and they offer the first opportunity to get direct exposure to these programs that can now have “recruiting-specific” conversations with 2023s. This is a crucial time for 2023s and 2024s to get on the recruiting radars at their target schools.
Given the high academics and the nature of recruiting at the caliber of schools at our events, recruiting tends to gain steam with student-athletes once they have more comprehensive academic information. These coaches need to make sure that your most polished and complete transcript, your test scores and your holistic application are in order before they can commit to recruiting you or supporting you through admissions. With SAT and ACTs ramping up again in the fall, and with first semester grades coming in right around the corner, this fall is the perfect time for these colleges to start looking to the underclassmen.
The recruiting process is exactly that – a process. Coaches are aiming to recruit the best players that they can, but they’re also looking for more than that. Coaches are looking for players that will impact and represent their program on and off the field – each student-athlete on the team is a representation of the school and the coach, so they need to be sure that they are also recruiting the character of the student-athlete, as well as the skills, the test scores, and the grades. To be able to do this, coaches need to build a relationship with the student-athletes they’re recruiting.
Think of camp not as a truncated time frame during which you need to meet and introduce yourself to a school, impress them with your play and then commit to their program. Camp is a great touchpoint along the recruiting journey, and part of an ongoing dialogue – one which affords an unparalleled opportunity for direct coach engagement that’s impossible to find elsewhere. And, by taking control of your process early and initiating relationships with college coaches, you’re putting yourself in the driver’s seat later on throughout your recruiting and admissions process.