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Getting some personal insight into college recruiting

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My oldest son (a high school sophomore) is starting to get some attention from college soccer recruiters.  I think it's mainly because he looks good on paper -- he's  6'3", he's relatively fast, and he makes really good grades (takes after his mother, thank God).  But communications have picked up quite a bit since his travel team played in a tournament last month that was billed as being a magnet for scouts.  The Division II and III levels are a definite option, but he's also attracted attention from some lower tier Division I schools.

Sorry to brag about my kid, but I'm posting this with the thought that I can share some of what we experience in this process (which is new to me) and I'd also be interested in the opinions and guidance of folks who have been through it themselves.

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We're still pretty early in the process (obviously, since he's a sophomore). 

Digested version thus far is like this:

1. Signed up with online recruiting service (offered free through his travel soccer team membership).  Started getting pings from random small schools all across the country.

2.  Talked with varsity soccer coach for honest assessment of the boy's future in college.  Coach says he's definitely got an opportunity to play Division II/III.  Division I is a long shot for anyone, but my son will at least get some looks because of his size and speed (which confirmed one of my previous assumptions about the process).  Also said that he would make a point to promote my son to colleges.

3.  Had honest conversation with the boy about his level of interest.  Gave him hypothetical option to consider....  If he had to choose, would he go to Virginia Tech with the knowledge that there is little to no chance that he could play soccer there?  Or would he go to on ODAC school primarily because he would have a chance to play?  He said that he'd probably choose Tech -- but he at least wants to explore the options available to him.

4.  After playing in the tournament last month, he's received some communication from scouts who referenced our team's specific results and who noted particular plays that my son made (it's obvious that they actually had eyes on him).  Three of these are from Division I schools (albeit ones in lower tier conferences).  In the mean time, the random pings are becoming more focused and a few ODAC schools in particular are really stepping up the email/mailings.  We've also gotten a couple of cold calls from coaches.

Right now we are at the point where we are evaluating which ID camp invitations to consider for the summer.  The current mix contains the 3 or 4 Division III schools that are basically within our area and a couple of Division II schools in North Carolina.  My son is also thinking about signing up for Tech's open soccer camp just to see if it leads anywhere.  While playing soccer for any ACC school obviously looks like the longest of the long shots, that's the soccer option that is most attractive and which he wants to at least explore.  But on that last note, he's also understandably intrigued by the interest of the Division I schools that have actually reached out to him.

My prediction right now is that he will enjoy playing soccer through high school, but will ultimately give up playing to go to Virginia Tech and major in physics.  But he's already a certified game official and he's helping to coach some of the youngest players in our club and our local Rec association, so I've told him that he can continue to have a future with the sport in either of those roles if he wants one.  (Although, to be somewhat ironic, his coaching and officiating experience also stand out on his recruiting profile and probably enhance his attractiveness on paper.)

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Still getting very random pings from small colleges, but now starting to hear from larger ones as well.  Just received an invite to  an ID camp from an American Athletic Conference school today.  Also received interest from a college in England through the recruiting service (which seems an unlikely outcome, but is the kind of rare thing that you just have to check out).  Boy is playing in his first "showcase" event next month -- which includes a few coaches who have already been in touch with him.   Will be interesting to see what (if any) kind of effort they make to actually contact him as part of that venue.  And we aren't tipping them off about his participation -- we want to see if they find him. I'm still thinking that most of the attention he is receiving is simply because he matches a recruiting profile (big, quick, and has good grades).  My theory is that if he doesn't get some personal attention from the coaches who have contacted him in connection with the event itself, then that's an early litmus test of how realistic his chances are of playing at the next level.

We will also probably get to test the real value of travel ball as it relates to the college recruiting process.  Things are a bit up in the air with the club and team for which he has been playing the last four years.  He was already planning to try out for another club's elite level team just to see where that might lead.  We think his chances of being invited to join are a long shot -- it's an extremely exclusive team that participates in an extremely high level league -- and there would obviously be some serious travel and expenses associated with it, so from a practical sense we're completely fine with the notion that it won't happen.  

If that doesn't pan out, his best option is probably to "play up" for the older team at his existing club next fall.  But there is also a very strong possibility that he could play for a team that competes almost exclusively in tournaments.  In our area, most of the better teams are involved in league play (Blue Ridge Soccer League or Skyline Club Soccer League).  So one thought is that playing for a "vagabond" club might actually put him at something of a disadvantage in terms of the travel ball part of the recruiting equation.

While it's exciting for him and kind of fun for us, I'm approaching this realistically  And I'm still sticking with my prediction that he hangs up his competitive cleats and winds up at Tech.  I may be off about his major.  Some days he likes chemistry better than physics.

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