COACH’S CORNER: Recruiting 101

Joining the Outside the Huddle in 2021 as a contributor in is former Manchester University head football coach Shannon Griffith. A product of Northrop High School where he started three years at quarterback, Griffith brings a wealth of coaching and playing experience to OTH. Prior to being a head coach, Griffith served as an assistant at Northwood University and Ball State University, where he was a three-year letter winner for the Cardinals. Griffith now serves as Manchester’s director of development and you can hear him on Friday nights as part of 1380 The Fan’s coverage of high school football.

The question that I receive the most is about recruiting. While I wish I had all the answers to give parents and players, the fact is recruiting itself is ever evolving.

When I was coaching at the Division I level at Ball State, we did not start our “offering” until the summer before a recruit’s senior year. Today, it starts much sooner than that and I hope I can convey that throughout this article.

When I was at Ball State from 1995-2002, recruiting started taking on a life of its own. Internet message boards would go into great detail on who a team was recruiting at each position and where that recruit stood on the recruiting board.

Our recruiting calendar during those years would start after National Signing Day in February. At this point, we would start gathering information from coaches, scouting resources and camps we might have seen a kid at. Then, our evaluation process would go through the camp season.

Compare that to today’s recruiting calendar. Teams start putting out offers to top juniors right after the early signing period. That means the recruiting calendar of today is a full year ahead compared to when I was at Ball State. 

Our evaluation process consisted of video tape, in-person evaluations and having the prospect in for one of the camps we had or attended. So if you think what that means in today’s terms, most prospects are being evaluated as sophomores and in the camp season between their 10th and 11th grade years.

Now when I say “video tape” I am talking about the old SVHS and VHS tapes that coaches would copy and give to us. Internet-based videos, such as Hudl, were not around yet and I can say that Hudl has systematically changed recruiting because that tape is at your fingertips.

One thing of note that I would like to point out, highlight videos are great, but I have never seen a prospect look bad on their own highlight.  What coaches evaluate is game footage and watching them in person when at all possible. Also, coaches still value the opinion of coaches and their teachers when it comes to character and athletic ability. 

One concept that most need to understand is what a ‘verbal offer’ means. While a student-athlete and his parents should be thrilled that their son has received confirmation he is a Division I athlete, the reality is that offer is NON-BINDING, which means nobody is bound to each other.

Have you ever wondered how some prospects have 26 offers? The offer just means that a school has a lot of interest in your son, that is it. When you can start celebrating is when a prospect receives an official offer letter from a school, something that cannot be given to a prospect until Aug. 1 of his senior year. Even if a prospect commits to that verbal offer, it does not become official until that letter is received and made official when National Signing Day occurs.

Our philosophy when I was at Ball State was to get one prospect to commit, we had to offer four prospects at that position. So, if we needed a quarterback and only had one scholarship to give, we would offer the four best QBs we had evaluated. That meant that the first one to give us his verbal commitment was in and the other three were out of luck. So, take another position – running back. If we needed two RBs we would offer up to eight to get the two we wanted. 

While I have outlined some of the recruiting processes, it is in some ways a lot more complex. I think what a parent and student-athlete should do is start attending camps during their freshman year. As time goes on and you start having the feeling that your son wants to play football at the collegiate level, you need to sit down with your head coach to discuss ask some college coaches to give you an evaluation of what level they see your son playing at. If your son wants to play college football there will be a place for them. Now it might not involve a full scholarship, but there will be a place. 

One thing I just hate to hear is that there are qualifiers to play college football. What I mean here is a prospect saying they want to play at the college level IF they get a scholarship. I will tell you about 97% of all seniors will not get a full scholarship offer. I have seen a lot of good football players not get a full ride or even a half-ride scholarship. So do not go into the recruiting season with that mindset, because you will get humbled fast. Be open to all avenues and do not forget the academics side of the equation either. Academics should be an important part of the process.

I wish I had all the answers about recruiting and the ins and outs of what it is today, but if I did, I would not be authoring this article but instead writing a book.


  1. Attend camps starting freshmen year
  2. Provide coaches with full games and include a highlight reel, like what a lot of kids do now with tweeting out their video.  
  3. Involve your head coach in the process and ask for evaluation from coaches at the camps you attend. 
  4. Do not qualify your reason to play college football as “if I get a scholarship.” 
  5. The only thing you have control over is how you prepare for an opportunity. Nobody can get you a scholarship, those are earned. 
  6. Coaches love seeing multi-sport athletes! 

Coach’s Corner appears every week during the prep football season. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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