How the recruiting process works

By Jason Grodsky

If there is one word that I could choose to sum up Illinois athletics so far this 2006-07 school year, it would be recruiting. In recent memory, there hasn’t been a year at Illinois more memorable for its ups and downs in the world of recruiting. As the Fighting Illini football squad and Ron Zook welcome the class of 2011 to Illinois in hopes of climbing out of the basement of the Big Ten, I offer you a timeline of what really goes on behind the scenes during the recruiting period for both the athlete and the recruiter.


Freshman Year: Once a prospective student-athlete begins classes as a freshman in high school, that student is then deemed a “prospect” and will begin to receive letters of interest from schools.

Sophomore Year: The prospects will start to receive more interest from schools and may choose to participate in various camps where they are evaluated. The prospects are evaluated on their skills (i.e. 40-yard dash, bench press) by a number of recruiting/scouting services at the camps. The information gained by the recruiting/scouting services can then be accessed by NCAA coaches who are interested in recruiting certain prospects.

Junior Year: A prospect’s junior year is arguably the most important year of his high school career. During this period, prospects are evaluated to a high extent and are compared to other prospects at the same position. The prospect will also be visited by coaches, allowing the coaches to evaluate the prospect in person. If a prospect flourishes during his junior year, his chances of being recruited by a big-time college program increase.

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Senior Year: During a prospect’s senior year he will narrow his list of potential colleges down, usually to around five or six schools at the beginning of the year. The prospects will then begin to take official visits to the schools and are frequently contacted by the schools. Around November of the prospect’s senior year he will more than likely narrow his list of schools down to three or may even give a verbal commitment to a school. In early February, the prospect is forced to make a decision on which school he will attend and will sign a letter of intent to that particular school.


There are many rules that regulate what a school and coach are allowed to do when recruiting a prospect. During the football calendar year there are four types of periods that define what a coach and school can do while recruiting.

The first period is known as the contact period, during which it is permissible for staff members to make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations. The second period is an evaluation period, which allows staff members to be involved in off-campus activities that allow them to assess academic qualifications and playing abilities. During the evaluation period a staff member is not allowed to have any in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts with a prospect.

The next period is known as the quiet period, where staff members are allowed to make in-person recruiting contacts but only while the prospect is on the campus of the school. Finally, the fourth period during recruiting is the dead period. A member of the staff is not allowed to make any in-person contact or evaluations that are on- or off-campus.