Official and Unofficial Visits

Phew! Football season has probably just ended or is winding down for you and your athlete. If so this is the perfect time to start scheduling some campus visits. Obviously this can get expensive so I suggest visiting places close to home first.

Unofficial Visits

These would be considered “Unofficial” visits and you can take as many as you want and I suggest you start taking these Junior year. These are entirely at your expense. So pack up the cooler, load up the van and get on the road. Visit schools that you are

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Butch and Barbara Jones, Jeshaun Jones, Myself (University of Tennessee visit)

considering and you may or may not have “Offers” from. Also I suggest using an app like “Snapchat” or some other video app to make a sort of video diary of your visits. I suggest Snapchat because you can put together a “story” chronicling your day with a time stamp, location and save the entire story in one short video. This will come in handy when you sit down and recap your visit with your athlete. Usually your athlete will let the coach he has been in contact with know that he is coming. However due to a new rule change the coach CAN NOT be involved. He may however “bump in to” you while you’re on campus (this is all outlined in the contact rules).

 

OH CONTACT. I forgot to tell you about contact rules. So I mentioned in my first entry that a coach CAN NOT contact an athlete directly and will usually go through his coach. They will begin to contact him directly on Sept 1st of his Junior year. And be ready, it literally starts at midnight. His phone will light up like a Christmas tree. ( its super exciting to get to watch it through his eyes). Oh and your mailbox. Girrrrrrl bless your mailman. Get him a gift card. Your poor mailbox will be over flowing from now until signing day.

Back to your unofficial visit. Once he has let the football or academics liaison know he’s coming they will usually have someone meet you and show you around. You’ll tour the football facility, weight room, academics, dorms and the medical facility/training room (this is where they will get “treatment” before and after practice and games). You’ll meet current athletes and will run into them throughout the visit. Pay attention to their interactions with you, their coaches the liaison that’s showing you around (Spidey sense).  Also get to know the strength coach. This is who the athlete will spend most of his time with (we will get more into this later). This is where you need to take pictures and videos and save them in some sort of order to go back to later. Depending on where you live you might be able to visit two campuses in a weekend. We saw three once. It was a whirlwind and it all starts to run together after a couple so make sure to document your visit.

*Speed tip:  If you let a coach or school know you are heading to see another campus (and they really want you) they will try to stall you and hold you up. So divulge that info on a need to know basis to keep your trip on schedule.

Official visit

Now official visits are similar to unofficial visits however you used to take these during senior year, due to a new rule change you can start taking them during Junior year. You only get  5 and the school you are visiting will invite you on an official visit, set it all up and pay for everything. I mean EVERYTHING! Car service to the airport, flights, hotels, meals, game tickets, entertainment, all of it. THIS… This is what you worked for. This is

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Sideline at Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN

the payoff for the hellacious weekends crammed in the smelly minivan, driving all over the country,  eating PB&J and sleeping in questionable hotels. THIS is for YOU mom. Enjoy this part.  Did I mention the food? SO. MUCH. FOOD. They feed you so often that you don’t have time to get hungry. I wont even ruin the surprise waiting for you in your rooms when you check in. They will give you the campus tour, academics presentation, dorm tour, if there is a home game you’ll get to see pregame warm-ups down on the field. They will show you around the city. It’s the A-list treatment.

 

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Coach Tyson Veight, Myself, Coach Matt Campbell, Jeshaun Jones (Iowa State visit)

OK Momma, I need to let you know the players are going to take your son out. Breathe… But the coaches are going to take YOU out too. Try not to think too much about it. They will introduce you to his “Host”(usually an upper-classmen that plays the same position) for the weekend and he is in charge of showing your son a good time on his visit. Feel free to give this young man the shake down. In my case it was the same on each visit: They introduced me, I shook his hand and looked him in his eye and said “This is all I have in this whole world. If something happens to him, I will find you.” ( I told you I was an embarrassment). Just remember you raised him right. He will make good decisions and *NEWS FLASH* he’s moving out in a couple months. He’s about to be a grown up.

You will be on this visit with other parents and athletes. Especially if it’s during season. There are only 7 home games (remember this number) so they have to get as many of their top recruits on campus to see the game day atmosphere (Some schools do not have visits during season). So in some cases there will be more than one recruit of the same position which I always thought was awkward. Anyway be prepared. I met some really cool parents of athletes that went else where and you automatically become a fan. Speaking of game day atmospheres; *Remember there are only 7 home games. That’s 7 days out of the 365 that he will be on campus. Try not to put too much weight on the game day experience. It’s more about the entire place. He better love it.

As always, hang in there. I’m here to help.

LINKS

https://www.ncsasports.org/ncaa-eligibility-center/recruiting-rules

 

Vocabulary to know

  • Official visits: Recruits can now start taking official visits starting September 1 of their junior year of high school. Set up and paid for entirely by the school you are visiting. Athlete only allowed 5.

 

  • Unofficial visits: College athletic departments-this includes college coaches-are not allowed to be involved in a recruit’s unofficial visits.  Unofficial visits are any campus visits paid for entirely by the recruit’s family.  If the recruit happens to bump into the coach on campus, they can’t have any recruiting conversations at that time. Athlete is allowed unlimited unofficial visits.

 

  • Host: Upper class-men in the same position group that will show your athlete around during your visit.

 

  • Strength Coach: The coach responsible for strength and conditioning. The person the athlete will spend the majority of his time with (more than his position coach or the head coach).

Early Signing Day, Midyear Enrollment and Graduation

Did you do your homework? Did you watch the “Commitment videos” on YouTube? Are you starting to hear the buzz from your athlete about who is going where? Better yet, are you seeing it in the news feed of  your new Twitter account?

For the sake of timing, I decided it would be good to talk about Early Signing Day, Mid-year enrollment and Graduation. ‘Tis the season.

First, let me explain what signing day is and what is being signed. National Signing day is the day your athlete will sign their NLI (National Letter of Intent). This is their commitment to attend the college they verbally committed to (we will get into verbal commitments later). The actual NLI is signed electronically usually on a phone or iPad using your finger or a stylus the morning of signing day. You will be overnighted a paper copy to sign at the table (this is just for show) on NSD (National Signing Day) and a keepsake for you. You can sign early but that does NOT mean you have to enroll early. National Early Signing Day  was just introduced last year. It worked out well for both coaches and athletes. Here is why: Coaches were able to fill most (if not all) of their roster spots on early signing day which means they were done recruiting for that class. Same for the athletes; they could sign, their commitment would be locked in and they could enroll early or finish their senior year with peace of mind.

National Early Signing Day: 12/19/18 – 12/21/18
National Signing Day: 2/6/19 – 4/1/19

Which brings me to my next point: Mid-year Enrollment
If you made a Twitter account then you have seen the term “Mid-year ”. I know what you are thinking, “What the heck is a Mid-year and what does it mean?” Mid-year enrollment is something you would have been planning before (or at the latest) at the beginning of senior year (sorry moms of seniors). You will need to get with your school counselor during junior year to make sure you are on track to enroll early in college. How is this possible, you ask? Usually the second semester of your senior year you will only need two or three classes. You can take these classes online during first semester so that when the semester ends in December you will have completed your high school requirements and can enroll in winter term in college.
For Example: You would be taking 1st semester of English 4 in class and 2nd semester of English 4 online AT THE SAME TIME.
It is a lot, I know…deep breaths.

Benefits of enrolling early: Your athlete will be a semester ahead of everyone in his graduating class, he will be able to attend winter conditioning and he is eligible to participate in spring football/Spring Game ( this is a HUGE advantage over other incoming freshman in his class)
Drawbacks of enrolling early: Your athlete may miss senior prom and mom may be sad sooner (Or happy. No judgement here).

One of my favorite coaches we met during recruiting told us “2nd Semester of your senior year is the biggest waste or your time”. What he meant by that: You are the best on your team so no one is pushing you in the weight room (that is if they even know what they are doing in the weight room) and you only have a couple classes so you have a lot of idle time on your hands to get into trouble. In most cases, it is in your athlete’s best interest to get on campus, get into the routine of workouts and classes and start building relationships with his new teammates.

But what about graduation?

Good news! Your athlete can come home for graduation and walk the stage with his class. Keep in mind you will have to get him home and back to school and possibly transportation back to campus. During recruiting, schools will tell you they will fly him home for graduation. This is false. It is, in fact an NCAA violation. So plan on the expense.
I know what you are thinking mom, I’m sure there is a lump in your throat at the thought of him leaving even a moment sooner. Breathe… Cry… Do whatever you need to do. Then pull yourself together and really think about what is best for your son. Then talk it out with him and his counselor, coaches and recruiters and come up with a plan (We will talk about the emotional aspect of this later). Just know,  I could not even say the words “Mid-year enrolling” without bursting into tears (seriously EVERY time. I was an embarrassment).

Lastly, your athlete may not sign on NSD and he may not enroll early. Do not be pressured by “looking good” on NSD or enrolling when you’re not ready or it’s not the right fit. It is OK to sign later within the signing dates and enroll in fall classes. DON’T PANIC. One of the biggest decisions of his life is where he will go to college. Make sure it feels right.

Hang in there Momma, we will get through this together. As always bring on the questions, I’m here to help.

Vocabulary to know: 

 National Early Signing Day- 12/19/18 – 12/21/18
NSD- National Signing day- 2/6/19 – 4/1/19
NLI- National Letter of Intent
Mid-Year Enrollee- Enrolling in college as a freshman to start winter term (January) rather than waiting until fall (August/September).

Links:
http://www.nationalletter.org/signingDates/

So your son wants to play college football…

Welcome to the only blog by a single mom on this topic. I only know this because while I was going through the process with my son I looked everywhere for a guide. They don’t exist. So instead I was left asking for information from coaches and “friends” who usually had their own agenda when giving me advice. With that being said, I’m here to give all the tricks and tips to the process that I learned the hard way. I will do my best to tell you everything I learned and am still learning.

My name is Nicole and my son has just finished his first full year of college. He enrolled in January of 2018 and was highly recruited out of high school with 38 D-1 (division 1) full scholarship offers to play football. It all started with his first “offer” as a sophomore; And if your son is like mine he’s watched his older teammates get “offers” and talk to coaches for the last couple years and he’s ready for his turn. He’s watched the commitment videos on YouTube, he’s seen schools chosen out of “3 hats at the table”  and he’s ready for his chance. (If you have free time look up “commitment videos” on YouTube. They are pretty elaborate.)

Let me first explain what an “offer” is: Usually a college coach will contact your athlete’s high school coach (because they are not allowed to contact the athlete directly due to NCAA rules. We will get more in depth with this later) and extend a scholarship offer to your athlete. This is a very exciting time. However keep your cool Mom. I need you to have your Spidey senses on full alert as the offers start to roll in.

First things first: Get yourself a Twitter account. This is how you will keep abreast on all recruiting news. Follow any or all coaches, schools and recruits that you know of. This way you will get updated on whats going on with recruiting. This is especially helpful to keep track of how many commits in each position the school already has and how many they offer. How will you know who they offered? Trust me, Kids love to post their offers.

Keep in mind Twitter is not like Facebook or Instagram. Twitter is your new recruiting tool. Think of this as “All business”. No pics of the kids or your breakfast. This is solely to tweet your athlete’s Hudl link (Hudl is the site the athletes use to edit their highlights and send to coaches) keep up to date on schools and recruiting and to communicate with coaches through DM’s (Direct messages. Like messenger on Facebook) You, your athlete and his coach are his only promoters. It will be up to you guys to post his highlights and send them to coaches. This is how he will get exposure. Gone are the old days of sending out VHS tapes.

Second, get familiar with the NCAA rules on contact during recruiting. You will need to know the difference between a dead period (no contact), quiet period (no face to face contact), official visits, unofficial visits and “bump intos”. If your athlete breaks the rules he could risk losing his NCAA eligibility.

Third, STAY CALM. This is a huge time for you and your son. Take your time, do your research and enjoy the ride. The most important thing you can do right now is get prepared for the overwhelming time and attention the recruiting process takes. You want to make an informed decision and even then you still might not get it right. It’s all perfect, you and your athlete will learn and grow through this process. Everything is going to be fine.

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I think I’ve given you enough research for our first encounter. Please comment or contact me with any and every question.

We single moms have to stick together and I’m here to help.

 

Links:

http://www.ncaa.org

http://hudl.com

 

VOCABULARY TO KNOW:

D-1: Division 1

Offer: Full scholarship offer

DM’s: Direct Message

HUDL: Site used to edit highlights.