When a world where college football programs are beginning to identify prospects at the age of 12 and 13 clashes with a world where the NCAA continues to place regulations on communicating with recruits there is bound to be coaches who develop loopholes and a loophole developed to get top junior recruits to campuses nation wide was Junior days. However according to an article on ESPN.com Junior days are no longer a loophole they are a critical piece of the recruiting process, and they are blowing up nation wide.
A junior day is similar to an unofficial visit, with a large group of the top junior recruiting class for that program attending all on the same day or a few days spread out through the spring season. The student athlete still has to pay for the trip themselves, because of NCAA regulations which state that only seniors can take official visits, but it is still a great opportunity for many prospects.The difference between a regular unofficial visits and a junior day is that a large majority are invite only for the top recruits in the nation. For a lot of major division programs these junior days can help them lock up top several top recruits. LSU, Alabama and Texas have reported securing verbal commitments from recruits and according to Insider.com, LSU picked up 4 commits within 2 Junior Day visits this spring already.
These Junior days not only give the coaches a chance to learn more about these players, it also give the players a chance to see what the school and coach is like. We encourage athletes to take numerous unofficial visits to see which schools they are really interested in before they use one of their five official visits. Even if you are not one of the lucky few who receive junior day invites, its important to plan several unofficial visits to colleges you might be interested in.
During junior days players meet with the head coach as well as various other coaches including assistant coaches, positions coaches or even the programs strength training coaches. They also see the academic side of the University during these visits as they meet with academic advisers, professors and other staff members.
What do junior days mean as far as gauging your level or recruitment as a football player?
Coach Randy Taylor weighs in:
“Junior Days are invite only, therefore they already know who you are.” says Coach Taylor who has served on football staffs at the University of Illinois, UNLV and UCLA. “It means you are on the radar for these college coaches. If you haven’t been invited to attend a Junior Day, you are not getting recruited.”
As a junior in high school you should have regular correspondence with college coaches (while staying within NCAA rules), including being invited to junior days. Does this mean your not going to play in college if you are not invited as a junior? Not necessarily but it is definitely an indicator that you need to start becoming proactive in your recruiting future. At this point in your recruiting process you should have solid relationships with several coaches and the relationship should only continue to build as you enter your senior year. Make sure to get an evaluation to see which level you can play at, once you know which divisions to reach out to you can start you recruiting process off right!