For many football players and high school coaches, if it is not D-1 then there is nothing. Let me explain what I mean. Too many players set their goal of playing at the next level strictly on D-1 schools at the exclusion of any other option. Similarly, there are too many high school coaches who consider a player a college prospect only if they are D-1 material and will not help players who want to play college football but are not meet major college standards. Maybe you are one of those players who have a passion to play beyond high school but are lacking in the qualities that distinguish a D-1 prospect from all the others. Cheer up; there is a place for you.
First of all, let’s look at some of the reasons why you are not considered a major college prospect. You are too small. You are too slow. You played at a small school. Your academic achievements are insufficient. You have gone unnoticed by the “big programs”. You didn’t know how to get yourself noticed. These are just some of the many reasons for being overlooked by the major schools. Let’s consider some of these and a few other reasons why you might be better served at a smaller college.
I have known and if I had the time and space could identify many players who were judged too small, too slow, too something to play D-1 football. The fact is that at the time of their recruitment or lack thereof they were. But people mature and grow at different times. A player to small at 18 may well be ideal at 19 or 20. Here’s another, and I have heard it at the college and pro level enough times to make you sick, “he can’t play because of the level of competition he has faced”. It has been my experience that a good player will generally be a good player regardless of who he has played against.
I could go on and on but consider these realities:
1. Not every player who gets recruited to play at the D-1 level is good enough to play at that level. They spend 5 years on the sideline or the scout team. There are many, many recruiting mistakes made every year. A “real” player would rather play than watch even if that means playing at a D-1a, D-2, D-3, NAIA, or Junior College. It is many times better to be a big fish in a little pond than it is to be a little fish in a big pond.
2. When I look at the high school, college, and pro coaches I find that many, if not most, of them come from “small school” football experiences. It is the unique experience of college football that far exceeds the level of any particular program.
3. You may have not taken your high school academics seriously, or you may have not gotten the exposure that maybe you deserved, or maybe you failed to have a plan for your football and academic future. Those situations are not uncommon. Many D-1 schools, every year stock their rosters with juco players. This could be your ticket to the college of your choice.
4. Finally, you may have the dream and passion to play at the pro level. I have in my files the names of 850 players who have played in the NFL from NAIA schools [many of these schools have now been absorbed into the NCAA D-II and D-III programs].
I strongly suggest that as you attempt to realize your passion to play at the next level that you do the following:
a. Have a plan for getting notices and recruited
b. Work to be the best player you can be
c. Train your body for maximum performance
d. Keep an open mind as to what is available and best for you