One of the things that can catch recruits and parents off-guard in the recruiting process is how quickly coaches will try to seal the deal when they are interested in a player. One day you are receiving zero interest, and the next a coach wants you to commit right then and there. Things can move fast! First and foremost, understand what ‘committing’ means for you and never commit until you are 100% ready.
If you are lucky enough to receive offers or interest from several schools, there is a good chance at some point a school will “deadline” you. A “deadline” is when a coach tells you he needs your decision by a specific date —are you committing or not? There are many reasons why coaches will deadline a recruit. In the remainder of this article, we will discuss the 5 main reasons a program will provide you with a deadline and give you 5 important things you should know about deadlines.
5 things every recruit should know about deadlines:
1. While many recruits go through the same stages of the recruiting process, these stages happen at different times and at a different pace for each individual. It’s important to remember that even though coaches have tremendous influence, you are the one who makes the final decision. Take the time you need, even when you are being pressured by college coaches.
2. If you are an underclassman and receiving interest from multiple programs, it is highly likely you will continue to receive interest as long as you are uncommitted. You will have options, so you should not feel rushed to make a commitment when the circumstances are less than ideal. We discuss why patience pays off in the recruiting process for players who continue to focus on getting better here.
3. Selecting a college is a life-changing choice, so make a fully-informed decision! Always make sure you have all the information you need to make your decision before you make it (financial, out of pocket costs, academic, baseball, admissions, etc). This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in the moment on visits. You don’t want to commit to your dream school only to realize you cannot afford the tuition or any other host of issues that may pop up if you don’t have the information you need.
4. Generally speaking, the younger you are, the longer your deadline should be. Underclassmen should not be rushed into a decision. Hard deadlines only make sense for upperclassmen or late in the recruiting calendar. After all, underclassmen can’t even take a coach hosted campus visit. How should they be expected to know if that school is a fit for them?
5. Red Flags: If a school gives you a deadline before they provide you with all the information you need to make a fully-informed decision (financial, out of pocket costs, academic info, baseball info, etc.), it’s a big red flag. Another red flag is if you still have plenty of time before graduation, you just started talking with a coach, and he gives you a short or unreasonable deadline (use your best judgment to determine unreasonable, you might have a difficult decision to make, but it should not be a rushed decision). If a deadline seems unreasonable, ask for more time or ask why the coach needs to know so quickly.
5 Reasons for Deadlines and What it Means for You:
- The program is in a hurry to fill the position for one reason or another.
What this means for you: When timelines don’t match up, it can make for some difficult decisions. You can always ask for a little more time or see if they would consider you later on. If you are young or receiving lots of interest, you shouldn’t make any rushed decisions. If you have a lot of interest in the school, tell the coaches about your interest and be honest. Unfortunately, recruiting is about timing, and timing doesn’t always match up.
- The school wants you to make a decision before another school gets a chance to see you play, or the school thinks you are a reach and having you commit before you get to explore other (possibly better) options is their only chance to get you.
What this means for you: The coach thinks you will receive interest from other more desirable programs down the line and wants to get you committed before you get more exposure. This is a classic leverage play, which happens a lot during peak recruiting times like summer and fall. A tipoff for this type of deadline is if you still have a lot of time left before you graduate. If you suspect this is the reason, you may ask questions like, “Is that a hard deadline?” or, “Would you be willing to give me a little more time?” If the school stays strict with their deadline, it probably means they realize their chances of getting you beyond that date are not worth the costs of continuing to pursue you. If you are reasonable, most programs will show some flexibility in their deadlines.
- The coaches genuinely feel like they have given you enough time to evaluate the fit and need to know if they should move on.
What this means for you: If you have had an offer on the table for a long time, have received all the information you need to make your decisions and are still trying to decide, it’s reasonable for coaches to give you a deadline. Recruiting players is time consuming and expensive, and sometimes a program can’t afford to spend more time/money waiting on you.
- You and the school have mutually decided on a deadline date that is fair.
What this means for you: This is the best kind of deadline, straightforward and agreed upon by both sides. What more could you ask for?
- Schools have to meet institutionally-imposed deadlines for housing, scholarship offers, academic offers, etc.
What this means for you: These deadlines are almost strictly for seniors and later in the school year. Sometimes there are school-imposed deadlines on a team for things like scholarship money, admissions, housing, etc. There is not a lot coaches can do about these deadlines, and they will likely tell you that up front. For example, “We need to know by June because that is the latest date we can guarantee your academic money will still be available.”
As always, when it comes to difficult recruiting conversations, honesty is the best policy. If you feel like you need more time to make a decision, ask for it. If you know you will not have an answer by a deadline or want to keep your options open, ask if the school would still consider revisiting options at a later date. Ask clarifying questions and don’t be scared to ask difficult questions, when necessary. Always be respectful and always make sure you have all the information you need before you make a decision. Good luck!