Coaches Recruiting Timeline

For most families, the most difficult part of the recruiting process is trying to understand how a coach evaluates and shows interest in a student-athlete.

How does a coaches recruitment timeline look?

College coaches generally follow five specific steps throughout their recruitment process. These steps include:

  • Gather a list of potential prospects and add them to a recruitment board
  • Send out recruiting letters, questionnaires, and camp invites to gather more information on the athlete.
  • Conduct thorough evaluations
  • Extend verbal offers and scholarships
  • Sign athlete

Step 1: College coaches gather a list of prospective athletes

Coaches identify recruits who meet basic criteria like height, weight, position, grad year, academics, location etc. They do this by utilizing the following methods:

  • Third-party recruiting services like NextUpRecruitment (we have the fastest growing network)
  • Recruiting media websites such as
  • Recommendations from other coaches
  • Emails and messages sent from potential recruits
  • Camps/Showcases

During this stage, a college coach may have around 1000 athletes they are “interested in” for smaller schools, DII, NAIA, etc. This number is much larger for DI schools.

Step 2: Recruiting letters, questionnaires and camp invites

Coaches now begin sending out messages to athletes to get a better idea of how many of them are actually interested in their program. If you fit this criteria you should usually receive a recruiting letter, questionnaire, or camp invite.

Step 3: Athletic, academic, and character evaluations

At this stage in the college recruiting process, coaches really need to get to know recruits in order to begin narrowing down who they are willing to actually bring on board. This often means getting in touch with athletes and their high school coaches for a recommendation. They may also travel to tournaments or games where they know a large group of their prospects is competing, allowing them to make an in-person evaluation. 

By the time this period of recruitment is finished with a coach usually has his top 20 recruits who they’ll be going after. That’s a big cut from the initial 800+ prospects right…

Step 4: Scholarship offers and locking in commitments

How do coaches decide who gets an offer? As with every stage of the recruiting process, every program has different needs and will approach them differently, but in simple terms, it goes like this. Large programs may have a list of nearly 150 athletes, now obviously not all of those can join the team. Coaches will begin offering athletes at the top of their list and working their way down as they lose players to other programs, at this stage, they also start conducting on-campus visits. 

If a coach has invited you on an official visit, they mean business, by this point it’s usually decision-making time, you should know by now whether or not this program is a fit for you, and you should be prepared to give the staff an answer. Transparency is very important. 

football scholarships

Step 5: Signing athletes and ensuring they are eligible

The final step in the recruiting process is ensuring that the athlete sign’s with their program and actually meets eligibility requirements so that they can compete.  Here’s how the committing and signing timeline works in most cases:

  • The athlete verbally commits to the school.
  • The college coach extends an official offer.
  • The athlete signs the official offer.
  • The athlete continues to meet eligibility requirements by taking all the necessary core courses and receiving the required GPA in those courses.