By Rob Sturgis
Recruiting lies at the heart of starting and maintaining a football program. A school’s recruitment effort can very well determine not only how good the football team will be, but also how long the program stays afloat. If recruiting goes poorly the football program can be terminated, as seen with Division 1 schools Boston University and Northeastern University.
“We go out every year and try to bring in the best kids that we feel will not only help our football team but will also love our school and want to stay for four years,” said Ryan Kelly, the recruiting coordinator at Anna Maria College.
Recruiting can be very challenging for Division 3 institutions. Every year, coaches are looking to bring in a recruiting class of about 25-40 student-athletes so that they will have a football team of about 100 student-athletes.
“You want to end up with about 25 kids in every class,” said Kelly, “so every year we shoot for whatever number will put us at 100 kids on our team.”
The first big challenge coaches face is the lack of full-time coaches who can go on the road recruiting. Of the 20 Division 3 schools with football, only nine have full-time coaches. Those nine full-time coaches compare to 161 part time coaches at those 20 schools.
For more information on the numbers of full-time and part-time coaches visit http://athleticscholarships.com/mens-football-scholarships/ncaa-division-iii-with-football/massachusetts/
“It is definitely difficult when it comes to getting guys out on the road visiting schools and such, but there are other ways to go about it,” said Bob Johnson, the recruiting coordinator at Worcester State College. “We try to get out to as many fairs as we can and we try to email as many coaches as we can to get in contact with kids.”
Small schools, especially those in Massachusetts, face sizable competition because of the overwhelming number of schools recruiting the same student-athletes. With 20 Division 3 schools in the Bay State alone and no athletic scholarships to offer, Division 3 colleges have a hard time standing out.
“It’s tough,” said Matthew Burke, the athletic director at Mount Ida College. “You really have to sell your program, school, and social activities in order to separate your school from the others.”
“We know that financially we can’t compete with the state schools,” said Brian Hayes, the offensive coordinator for Anna Maria College, “so we sell who we are as a staff and what we can do for the kids. Our goal is to make them feel comfortable and to let them know they will be successful when they graduate.”
The goal for these schools in recruiting is to get the best student-athletes to attend their school. How every school goes about trying to do this differs but the basic process remains the same.
Step 1: Get in contact with the student-athlete and get them to apply to the school.
Step 2: Coaches wait for the admission counselors to make a decision on the student-athlete on whether or not to accept them.
Step 3: Coaches make sure the student-athletes and their families have completed their FAFSA (federal student aid application) paperwork in order to receive financial aid. Then after that paperwork has been completed the coaches will wait for the financial aid office to send the student-athlete a financial aid package.
Step 4: The student-athlete and family decides what school to attend and pays the deposit to attend that school.
Here’s an inside look at the way Anna Maria College recruits, told by recruiting coordinator Ryan Kelly.