With colleges finishing up signing their 2019 class, their recruiting efforts are now focused on the juniors (c/o 2020). The competition for collegiate athletics continues to increase year after year, which places more stress on high school athletes and parents to do all the “right things” to increase those potential opportunities. While it is important to do all that is necessary because you only get one chance to go through the recruiting process but figuring out what aspects are crucial and what ones are not is the difficult part. One of the most common questions asked is, “how important are junior days?”
What are Junior days?
Junior days are a recruiting event that most (if not all schools) will host and invite potential recruits to get on campus. With the evolution of the recruiting process in the past decade, the significance of junior days has shifted a bit, especially for specialists. One way to think of junior days is that it is an organized, unofficial group visit. It allows potential recruits a chance to see what college football life at that school would be like including touring campus, seeing the locker room, stadium, meeting rooms, weight room, meeting with academic advisors, the position coach, sitting in on a question session with players, etc. The goal of these visits is to have recruits leave campus with the feeling of excitement and personalized attention.
While the purpose of these junior days may sound great in theory, sometimes they may not be absolutely necessary for a specialist’s recruiting process. It is essential to understand the truths behind junior days so that you and your family can make the best choices about where to allocate time, effort and financial resources for increasing the chances of playing college football.
Junior Day Pros and Cons
· Tour the campus and facilities
· Meet with coaches, players, staff and advisors
· Ask questions and get information
· Maybe see a practice or spring game
· Get a great feel for what football life would be like
· Pay your own way, unlike official visits
· Could be a large group of recruits (25+), often more at bigger programs
· Invites are not as exclusive
· Used to build inflated social media hype
· Very few (if any) specialists are extended offers from junior days
· No workout or evaluation component (which is important for coaches recruiting specialists)
Are they worth it?
While it may be concerning to see other players posting social media pictures of their “visits” to schools because it prompts the feelings of missing out or doing something wrong, junior days are not as vital and invites are not as exclusive as the social media leads you to believe, even if the letter is handwritten. Hitting every single junior day that you are invited to is not the most efficient or effective strategy to take for your recruiting process. Time and money are valuable and expensive resources and would be much better spent directed elsewhere because not attending a junior day is not the end of the world.
Underdog Consulting, a specialized recruiting service for football specialists, suggests the following approach for junior days:
· Limit the number of visits (quality over quantity), try focusing on in-state or driving distance to save money or top-choice schools regardless of football
· Prioritize junior day visits to programs that you have been in communication with
· Consider their summer football camp instead to be evaluated by the coaching staff
· Be realistic about your abilities- if you’re a DII/III caliber recruit, maybe a Top-25 FBS junior day isn’t the most practical choice
· Focus on communication and outreach to schools that fit your academic and athletic needs
· Time and money spent on training and competing can do much more for you than being 1 of 50 recruits at a junior day. Kohl’s training camps, showcases and scholarship camps can be used to improve rankings and post credible charting results
Overall, junior days can be a great experience for getting a feel for what college football life would be like, meeting with coaches and expressing interest in their program but don’t feel pressured to attend them all. The key to success in the recruiting process is being realistic about who you are as a player and finding programs that fit.
The recruiting process can be tremendously overwhelming and knowing the correct steps to take can be difficult, but Underdog Consulting can help. By focusing on the most important aspects, with regards to academics and athletics, Underdog helps identify the best-fit schools and helps with each step along the way in your recruiting. You only get one chance to figure out how the recruiting process works,and Underdog can help today!