When taking a recruiting visit, it’s important to remember that you’re being presented with the best possible picture that a school can give you. Similar to a trip to Disneyland, the process of a recruiting visit is a show: they show you the best spots, you eat the best food, and everyone presents the best version of themselves to sell you on the school. In other words, don’t believe everything that you see. So who do you turn to for an accurate depiction of a school? The athletes themselves.
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Many times during a college visit, high-school athletes are given a 1on1 chance to interact with the current athletes. You need to take full advantage of this opportunity during your visit as a prospective student-athlete; it might be the only chance you have to see past the veil that a coach presents to you. With the NCAA football contact period opening tomorrow, prepare for your campus visits with these 5 questions to ask current athletes during your visit.
1. How do you feel about the program?
The teammates each have an experience unique to them, but it can be very similar to yours if you go to that school. So, ask them about their story and how they feel about the program. Do they get sponsored and receive high-quality gear? Is the food good? They’ll give a realistic picture of what’s good and bad about the whole program. By getting to know them, it’s likely that they will let you know how athletes are treated and what their relationships with coaching/administration are like too.
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2. Are any coaches planning on leaving?
This is an important question to ask because oftentimes the coach who recruits you is the one who wants to see you play, otherwise they wouldn’t give you the opportunity in the first place. But, it’s no secret that in the realm of college sports coaches jump around places all the time, so you should know if the person bringing you in is on their way out. Of course, you’re going to be relying on a lot of hearsay and rumors coming from athletes themselves, but the coach’s plans are worth knowing. In a sport like football, where there are SO many coaches, you should be prepared for coaching turnaround.
Related: How I Handled Having 10 Different College Coaches in 6 Years
3. How is the scheme and playbook?
Taking a football-specific focus, the scheme – whether that be offensive or defensive – plays a big part in a player’s success at a program. You need to ask about the playbook on your visit: how intricate it is, what the primary calls are, if the team is shifting to a new philosophy and changing up the plays. All of these are vital to your success as an athlete, so it’s good to know the answers ahead of time.
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4. What is there to do in your free time?
During your college experience, while a large portion of your time is going to be taken up by school and athletics, you’re going to have opportunities to get out and socialize outside of football occasionally. Every school in the country has parties to offer, but athletes on a visit should instead ask about the local sites to see, best food spots, and what the team likes to do for fun. Asking questions like these allows you to get insight on team culture and if that group is the right fit for you.
Related: Social Factors You Need to Consider When Picking a College
5. How are classes?
This is where it’s important to find someone similar to what you’re interested in majoring in. The whole reason you’re going to college is to get an education, so insight from someone who is in the major you want to be is worth having. They can give the run-down on what you’re actually going to learn in the major, what classes to take, how to structure your schedule for success, and how to work with advisors if you go to the school.
6. How do the coaches treat the athletes?
2aDays was created because, unfortunately, way too many college coaches treat their players poorly. There’s a difference between a coach being intense and pushing you, and a coach who doesn’t care about your well-being or education. It’s good to know whether the coach picks favorites, lets you miss practice for your sister’s wedding, and encourages you in your academics.
Related: How A**hole Coaches and Trainers Led to the Death of a Football Player
7. Do professors accommodate athletes’ schedule conflicts?
This is a big one. As an athlete, especially a football player, you will likely have to miss a lot of class. The current athletes will be able to tell you if the professors will let you make up assignments and if the coaches will proctor tests you miss, or if that’s not an option.
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* Originally published on January 13, 2022, by Isaac Haney