Recruiting: How young is too Young?

Submitted by Fhshockey112002 on July 26th, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Ok, wanted the boards thoughts on this.  With the college football landscape changing how it has in the past 5-10 years and how finding talent has become a premium.  I ask the board "how young is too young to start recruiting?" 

Recently Washington University offered (and received) a commitment from a 14 year old 8th grade quarterback.  Also, LSU has offered a 14 year old who attened a summer football camp.

I know the Sandusky scandal was a one in a million situation, but I really have a problem exposing these young people to situations they are clearly not ready to be exposed to.  I would really like to see the NCAA move in and put a very strict age restriction on recruitment.……



July 26th, 2012 at 10:59 AM ^

a good work ethic.  Real character guy anyone would be proud to have as a teammate.  As long as labor takes less than 3 hours, he's earned himself a full ride.  Although he did mention he was going to try to run the womb to doctor's hands dash in under 4.5 seconds.

Predictions based on flimsy delivery room evidence - he'll be wearing the #1 jersey as a true freshman.


July 26th, 2012 at 11:24 AM ^

he could have some really bad anger issues as he's kicking the shit out of that uteran wall!!! Yvonne must be experiencing a great deal of discomfort right now.

Also, I think you have to wait at least until his fingers are visible or he won't be able to sign his LOI!

On a serious note, I think you should have to wait until they're junior year. It's bad enough how much pressue these kids have to deal with during the recruiting process. I can't imagine how you handle that when your in 8th or 9th grade.

david from wyoming

July 26th, 2012 at 10:55 AM ^

Jesus, this has next to nothing to do with Sandusky. Sexual predators have been known to work at grocery stores. Should we never eat food again?

With that said, written offers don't get sent out until a student's senior year of high school. Anything before that is just the school posturing for better position in the eyes of the recruit.


July 26th, 2012 at 11:01 AM ^

In a weird way there is a similarity to sexual predators.....a coach who offers a kid this early is taking advantage of the fact that kids that young don't really have well-formed decision-making abilities.

Unfortunately I don't see any way for the NCAA to tell coaches to stop recruiting anyone.  They don't have control over much.  "No contact" rules are so frequently broken that it's obvious they wouldn't have any effect on middle schoolers.  The best the NCAA can do is maybe "off-limit" camps to coaches if those camps have middle-schoolers participating.

david from wyoming

July 26th, 2012 at 11:23 AM ^

I'm sorry, I see don't see any similarity between the two. The coach is trying to recruit the best players to a less then elite school while the predator is ... well, you know.

The kids parents needs to play a part in the recruiting process. I assume most decent parents would say "congrats little Tate, but you are still in middle school and we aren't going to be thinking about playing football in college yet", quickly and painlessly ending this entire sage. I don't see a middle school recruit being 'prey' because the parents are allowing it to happen.

In general, I tend to blame poor parents for a lot of things, so take what I say with a large grain of salt.


July 26th, 2012 at 11:49 AM ^

No, I totally get where you're going about parenting.  I know exactly what my parents would've done and it's pretty darn close to your own example.  But I think I know what the coach should be saying, too, and should be a lot more like, "Tate, we'll be keeping in touch, and if you keep going the way you're going there'll be a place for you at UW" than "Tate, we are pleased to offer you a full grant-in-aid, will you make your promise to us that you'll be a Husky?"

I'm not saying that a coach is actively thinking "I'll get this kid while he's still young and gullible," but in the end, the result is really not that far off - the coach and the predator get what they want because kids that age don't make decisions well and don't know their options.  I mean, I'm not saying coaches are as bad as predators, since one is offering a lifelong benefit and the other know.  But it's still taking advantage of an undeveloped mind, and I don't care for it.


July 26th, 2012 at 12:09 PM ^

'No contact rules' probably do get broken(I have no clue on the inner workings of football recruiting), but it's worth noting that those rules don't apply if the player is on that school's campus, which I would assume he was for the football camp.

I've never really seen the problem with recruiting young kids.The player has to be the one to initiate the contact, so if they're harassed, they're being harassed by choice, and it's not like the commitments are binding at all, so either party can walk away in the future if circumstances change.


July 26th, 2012 at 11:54 AM ^

To take it a bit further: lately, it seems like somebody has to put an obligatory Sandusky/PSU reference into almost every thread, no matter how irrelevant that reference might be.  To me, it just makes the forum look like a trailer park.  

The first day of practice can't get here fast enough.

Phil Brickma

July 26th, 2012 at 10:57 AM ^

I'm not so sure that it is damaging to the kid as it is questionable recruiting. A lot can change in five years. I ruled Little League but was an average high school player. An eighth grader can completely fall off his game. What is the benefit of offering so early?


July 26th, 2012 at 11:00 AM ^

We have this conversation every time a young guy get's offered by a big program.  Personally I don't have a big problem with it, as I think it's up to the family to protect their kids from these pressures.  I'm sure these kids want to be college football players and they've already made that decision by the time they are in 8th grade.  

In Europe, kids are sent off to play for soccer acadamies as young as 12 or 13 where they go to school while simultaneously being semi-pro players for the academy teams of these big clubs.  It's up to these kids' familes to make sure these kids are focused on doing the right things and staying grounded.  

A college coach offering a scholarship to an 8th grader isn't that big of a deal in my opinion.


July 26th, 2012 at 11:10 AM ^

They should not allow offers to go out before the end of a kids sophomore season.  Let the kids stay kids for awhile.  An 8th grade kid is probably just hitting puberty.  There is no way he could handle an offer from a major university.


July 26th, 2012 at 11:24 AM ^

Here is the NCAA's definition of "prospective student-athlete". Per 13.02.12:

A prospective student-athlete is a student who has started classes for the ninth grade. In addition, a student who has not started classes for the ninth grade becomes a prospective student-athlete if the institution provides such an individual (or the individual’s relatives or friends) any financial assistance or other benefits that the institution does not provide to prospective students generally.

That sort of makes me wonder if the recent examples of middle school students getting offers would be examples of students who are getting the benefits to which this definition alludes. The Handbook is very clear on the number of coaches who can visit a prospective student-athlete, how many times they can do so in a given week during the live period, even down to the manner of contact.

" ""



July 26th, 2012 at 11:51 AM ^

I am awaiting scholarship offers for the next load of kids that I conceive. They've already shown the ability to 1) sprint through tight holes at the rate of a speeding bullet; 2) stick to anything they get their hands on; 3) get in the eyes of any defender. I've already started to send out highlight videos to prospective schools.


July 26th, 2012 at 11:56 AM ^

Offering a young child (who isn't even through puberty yet) a "ride" or "slot" isn't anything new in the world of professional sports training. Kids are scouted this young or younger in futbol (soccer) all over the world and given opportunities to go to futbol academies run in conjunction with a major club (like Real Madrid).

For a university to do so shows they all about building a winning football team - don't know and don't care if the kid is interested in college, or can even read and write.


July 26th, 2012 at 12:09 PM ^

As a high school athlete who is undergoing the recruiting process currently I don't think it should be until after the freshman season of said sport has occurred. I mean, jeez these kids haven't even walked into highschool classroom and they have scholarship offers to major universities? I got my first offer this past week, and I'll be a senior in the fall. Shit man, I'm no LTT, but I'm a big guy I didn't get any looks till the beginning of my junior track season.


July 26th, 2012 at 12:13 PM ^

In hockey, agents start recruiting guys when they are 14-15, the very best ones at 13. They are drafted at 15 and playing in the CHL by 16. It's a bit ridiculous, but that's how it is.


July 26th, 2012 at 6:09 PM ^

Sorry for the slow response, David. Very busy day. Anyways, the semi-pro route has everything to do with the difference. For football, everything revolves around school. That means that the changes in your football career coincide exactly with school. Hockey, however, operates totally independently from school for the most part. Even if a player goes the college route, most still play in leagues such as the USHL, or tier 2 junior A, junior B, etc.

I just mentioned the hockey thing because I find it interesting that we always say on this site that these are just kids and they are only 18, but in the hockey world, the kids go through all of this stuff two full years prior. Agents/coaches recruiting players happens the exact same way as it does in college football. You try and create a relationship with the kid, the parents, make your pitch, and hope that person picks you to help them navigate their careers and in many instances, large parts of their lives, especially financially.

As for age, the best players (think 5 stars or high 4 star types) will start getting calls in late grade 8 and early grade 9. But that is just the best of the best, the Stamkos, Couture, Hall, types of players. The rest start getting the calls in grade 10, which is the draft year. 

david from wyoming

July 26th, 2012 at 6:23 PM ^

No worries about the reply time, I'm currently in Quito Ecuador and just wasting time instead of napping in the hostel...

Thanks for the input. I seems like hockey is just about the same as football, in the sense that 2 to 3 years before a youth needs to make a decision (ie, what route through hockey or what college for football) the scouts/agents/coaches show up. If that works for the hockey system, it seems like it should work for football as well, and we could have answered the OP question of how young is too young.

Finally, I'm assuming the parents of hockey players have a large role in the dealing with agents, no? At that age, how could an agent talk directly to a kid and not be a creep?


July 26th, 2012 at 7:18 PM ^

For parents, it depends. The very first thing my boss told me was that the worst part of the job is dealing with bad parents. He was right. I've watched parents straight up ruin their kids' careers. Otherwise normal, rational, successful people can turn into complete savages around the arena. They refuse to listen to advice, which is what you pay agents for. These are the parents with kids who grow to hate hockey because they have had all the fun sucked out. I've known many of these kids and still know a few. They are living someone else's dream, and it's sad. On the other hand, there are some great parents who let their kids have a bit of freedom, but stay close enough to supervise the important stuff. 

As for contacting the kids, it usually happens through the coaches. You scout games, and then maybe go introduce yourself to the coach, and parents, and then try to set up some kind of meeting or phone call. If you get any further, just like Hoke and Mattison would do, you go sit on their couch, make your pitch, and hope Don Meehan (Nick Saban of hockey) isn't pulling into the driveway as you leave.

You have to be careful who you talk to, for sure. Some kids want to keep their college options open and don't want to talk to agents. You have to respect that and thats why its important to talk to coaches or parents first so that you know what you're dealing with. 


July 26th, 2012 at 12:42 PM ^

When I was in the 8th grade we had a stud QB, he was 5'10" ish 145 or so.  His parents were on the bigger side and while I was no college scout, I figured he would rule the HS ranks for the following 4 years. 

Well, he topped out at 5'11, got much bigger and turned into one heck of an undersized LB. 

Yeah, I know, cool story bro.  Point is, there is so much physical, mental, social developement that will happen with this kid.  There is about a 50/50 shot at best that Sark will be at UW.   This is nothing but a coach putting a tag on a kid while he goes about his business of finding the QB that he really wants.  If it turns out to be this kid, great, if it doesn't Sark will spend one nanosecond feeling any remorse for tossing the kid aside.

It is what it is and its no different than doing that with a Junior in HS recruit.  Paents are there to protect their child, coach is there to aquire talent.  ugly business.




July 26th, 2012 at 1:01 PM ^

Where are these parents? I mean lets help our children be children. Seems like there are fifty reasons to let your child get recruited shamelessly. One good reason not to, its really just a moral question. 


July 26th, 2012 at 1:11 PM ^

Coaches can/probably have to start scouting even earlier now to build relationships...its a given and a necessary thing now that College Football is big business. I dont really have that big of an issue with it I guess. If a young man wants to commit, so be it. Although 4 years of Shane Morris-eque attention prior to arrival at UM would get really old really fast. 

Im more interested in when we, as followers of college football, stop caring. Seniors in HS obviously make sense to pay attention to, as does attention to the Juniors. But I really could care less about what a freshman in high school says. He could not pan out, injury, get a girlfriend, learn the guitar...



July 26th, 2012 at 6:09 PM ^

I decided I would not follow recruiting news for several reasons, but primary among them is the discomfort I had with the industry, and the role fans play in supporting it. Obviously this is a personal decision, and your mileage may vary, but in my case I try to avoid reading anything involving recruits prior to their committment post.

As it happens this decision has made me happier, as my ignorance is bliss: not only do I not waste time reading about the physical details of some hot young thing who may or may not be able to drive legally, I don't care if said hot young thing decides to go somewhere else.

Bo Knows

July 26th, 2012 at 1:45 PM ^

That kid offered by LSU looks like a man already, at worst he becomes a middling 3 star, his ceiling is 5 stars.  The QB offer is one I'm a bit weary of, it seems to have worked out for USC with Sills looking like a stud already, but Chasingrabbits's example could apply here.