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Division I-AA (FCS) timetable for scholarships in the football recruiting process

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Division I-AA (FCS) timetable for scholarships in the football recruiting processOne of my favorite parts about this site is when users interact with those on the site and ask questions about specific situations that they are currently going through.  Because the recruiting process is so difficult, especially for football, there are always a ton of questions that parents have been few rarely ever ask.

Well, one dad came along and asked us about the time table for Division I-A and I-AA schools and how they handle the recruiting process for recruits who are not national.  In this first part of two articles, I will be taking a look at updated timetables as to when Division I-AA (FCS) schools make a decision on when they offer athletes.

Let me note before going into this that these FCS schools all are different and not every situation is the same.  One Division I-AA schools could have a completely different philosophy on the recruiting process than another one when trying to find football recruits.  Most of what I am basing these timetables on are on some of the top FCS schools in the country and what I have learned from following them.

There are three situations where I have seen FCS schools extend offers to athletes this early in the process.  But before going in these, because FCS schools have a scholarship dollar limit, the majority of offers that they extend could be for $10,000 or 33% of the costs associated with the school.  Each program depends but as a recruit, try to get the percentage offer because the price of school usually goes up.

Because they offer a dollar amount, most schools may offer a scholarship early on but when it comes down to it, the offer may be worth very little.  So before getting too excited about how they promised you an offer, until the dollar amount or percentage is in writing, that is when the real offer is on the table.  Many schools have promised athletes cash for school but when they come for an official visit, the money is much less than originally thought.

The first way that a school may offer a prospect is if they see him in camp and are extremely impressed.  This does not happen frequently but every year, there may be a few prospects who end up with verbal offers from this school.  While a verbal offer is great, until the money is in writing, I wouldn’t get all too excited about it.

The second way is if the coaches from the school come out to a game and are extremely impressed.  I had a chance to go to a football game earlier this fall and saw coaches from a Division I-AA powerhouse there.  They came to watch a talented running back/athlete and came away so impressed they offered him a scholarship later that week.  This has happened only a few times so the camp offer does happen more.

The third is when an out of state Division I-A college program extends an offer.  In order for this to work, it basically cannot be a Division I-A school in a BCS conference and usually has to be a great distance from home.  The reason that these Division I-AA programs swoop in with an offer is because they usually can sell the close to home angle as well as winning tradition.

Outside of this in my experience, offers now come when players take official visits.  The reason that these Division I-AA schools usually wait so long is that they are realistic about the process.  If you live in Missouri and the University of Missouri offers a prospect, there is little to no chance that Missouri State will be getting him to sign with them.  They usually wait to see where the Division I-A schools stand first.

I saw a prospect a few years back commit to a Division I-AA schools a week before Signing Day.  Late on Signing Day eve, a Division I-A school from his state came in with an offer.  Both the coaches from that Division I-A school and the recruit stayed up late before he eventually signed with them.  These midnight steals can happen often to a Division I-A school if an athlete decommits.

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10 Comments so far
  1. dad November 10, 2008

    Very helpful. At this stage of the process, currently in season, the waiting game can be frustrating, especially when friends and family continually ask the recruit, “what’s going on? have you been offered yet? when are you going to decide?” Thanks for your insight and advice. I look forward to part 2 of your article on this subject.

  2. admin November 10, 2008

    I know it does make it tough with people always ask but coaches just take SO LONG. Not much you can do about it on your end outside of being patient. The second part is about Division I-A offers and I plan to write a third for next week about Division I-AA official visits.

  3. Ike Seamans November 14, 2008

    I think your website is fantastic and a big help to parents trying to assist their sons to get football scholarships.

    A couple of questions:
    1. My grandson has just burst onto the “star player” scene during this, his senior year. In other words, he was ignored prior to now. His Dad has sent out countless game tapes this Fall. Finally, calls from recruiters are now dribbling in. Should we expect this to increase soon?
    2. I understand Dec. and Jan. are big recruiting months and that is when players previously overlooked frequently are noticed and recruited heavily. What can we expect?
    3. When checking websites like, I find many, many colleges list no commitments at all and even the most prestigious football schools don’t have that many so far and those are strictly the elite athletes. Does that indicate the big recruiting push has not yet started?
    4. What about the old, Div 1-AA and lower level Div 1 teams. When do they start showing up to recruit kids?

    Thanks for your time and keep up the good work. might be interesting to read your bio!!

    Ike Seamans

  4. admin November 18, 2008

    I appreciate the nice words and thanks for visiting the site. You definitely have some good questions.

    I will talk a lot about you are asking more in a future article. As I have mentioned before, it is honestly a lot tougher for an athlete to get recruiting interest if they “blow up” as a senior rather than a junior. Here are some answers to your questions:

    1.) I will answer it in an article soon

    2.) There is no standard response that you will receive. It depends on how good your grandson is and how well the family has marketed him.

    3.) Schools at the Division I-A (BCS) level want as many commitments as they can get. Some athletes are just waiting. The teams that seem to make more of a last minute push as the major Division I-A schools (Florida, USC, etc.) because the top recruits usually wait until the end.

    4.) There are a bunch of articles that have been written about that recently so look for those.

  5. ike seamans November 21, 2008

    Thanks for your encouraging comments. I have read ALL the articles you have written on the subject of how Div. 1-AA and lower level Div 1A teams recruit, In fact, I’ve read virtually EVERY article on your website!!

    I have known from the beginning of my recruiting research by closing checking your website, that since he was a late bloomer, had no significant tape of his phenomenal junior year (played at another and smaller high school where there was no budget for taping), didn’t attend any camps and the “marketing’ of him began so late, it would take time…like into December and January..or longer. I have also learned from talking to several recruiters that big time college football recruiting is a huge, monolithic enterprise that has trouble adjusting quickly to kids like this and to anyone not already on their board or in their computers!! Things are brightening up, however, since I first contacted you. He is making an official visit to Memphis this weekend (where his Mom…my daughter.. was a full scholarship tennis star and member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame); one ACC school seems sure to invite him and he has also now received serious phone calls to set up trips from coaches at several smaller Div 1-A colleges that are excellent edcuation institutions with good football programs: Layfayette, Colgate, Liberty, to mention a few.

    Look forward to reading your future guidance, which has guided us through this sometimes frustrating, but ultimately rewarding, process.

  6. chris December 13, 2008

    This week I received a letter from CCSU in Connecticut saying that I have been accepted to go to their school. I then e-mailed the head football coach and let them no about the letter. I have met the coaches several times at the football camps and went to all of their home games this year so when they see me they no who I am. I just received an email from them offering me a preferred walk on in the fall of 2009. I am not sure what this means can you help me? Does this mean I will be somewhere on the team and that I will need to prove myself. Does a preferred walk on usually get to go to the football camp. I am a linebacker and a guard in high school.

  7. Jerry Marshall May 3, 2009

    Great Article. I was wondering if you could do an article on the FCS (DI-AA) football teams and conferences that includes comprehensive information on which FCS Schools/Conferences offer scholarships and which do not. I know that they are able to offer 63 full scholarships, but some schools/conferences do not offer any athletic scholarships and some offer less than 63. I have been unable to find any complete information on the subject and any assistance would be appreciated.


    Jerry Marshall

  8. Mary Kelly February 23, 2010

    My son was invited on an official visit to a 1AA school and not offered a scholarship but was told he will have a spot on the 2010 team. If this is true, should he have to sign with that school or do you only sign if you are receiving a scholarship? Smaller schools are calling and telling him all kinds of things to get him to come to their school and the Div 1AA school insists he is on the 2010 roster. Are we making a mistake thinking he is part of that team without signing? Please help!

  9. Sandy Beckett June 2, 2010

    I was wondering if I consider my son to be more along the lines of a D1AA prospect because of his size, can you recommend some camps that he should attend to attract those coaches?

  10. Tom Hoy February 7, 2011

    this is an excellent article, and great to recycle for this coming recruiting year, and probably very EARLY in the year. Two cents from my experience in recruiting about 1a and 1aa recruting:
    having just gone through the process on the west coast, my son, 6’5, 240lbs and a defensive lineman at a small high school in California’s Northern Section (a DI high school, but a district that has put out 5 D-I recruits in like 12 years, though half of that due to a lack of knowledge about recruiting), My singular experience has taught me the following:

    1.) If you are good and you know it, regardless of whether they do, get out there and hit the camps, but make sure they know you are coming. that is: video out early: We did not hold back with D-I or D-1aa schools. We hit everyone in the western U.S. We got a lot of interest, and were recruited by both D-I and D-I aa schools. We received BETTER attention from schools where our recruiter was also the position coach. I don’t know if that is coincidence, but I am doubting it.

    2.) If you are unknown and are trying to GENERATE interest as opposed to having interest already, hit EVERY camp that invited you, especially if the invite was personal (not a form letter), and some that you aren’t invited to, too. We spent probably $2,000 going to camps last summer between junior and senior year.

    3.) continue to remain in contact with every school recruiting you (the player, not the parent). You can almost feel your position on thier boards by communicating.

    4.) we received full scholarship offers from three colleges, two 1aa, and one 1a. All of the schools we had attended camp. Two of the schools wanted Mike as an offensive lineman, and one (a 1aa school) wanted him as a DE, which is his first love, and is where he signed. With this school, he attended their camp because it was close to the five day 1a camp he attended the week prior and so he happened to be at his Aunt’s house for the weekend before flying home (short flight, $160 round trip on southwest, and the most expensive part of our camp experience: 250 for the 5 day camp, 80 for the one day big man camp and 160 airfare) so I called the school, asked if it was okay to sign him up late (they had heard of him due to our great publicity work by using Scout and Rivals), and signed him up four days before the camp.
    funny, the kid didn’t really want to go after the long camp, because it was such a last-minute thing, but he went, and he impressed on a very high level.

    Sorry this is a long comment, but the bottom line is, we spent about $2,000 on the camp season, including Nike Combines (two), and got about $175,000 (ish) in free education, signing our NLI last week. That, friends is a fair trade, and the bottom line is:
    Yes, many 1aa schools take their camps seriously.

    Yes, 1aa scholarships are going to come later, probably right before your official visits, and you will know exactly where you stand at that time in terms of percentage.

    Also, some of the smaller 1a schools will be slower to offer, as they don’t want other, bigger schools stealing their prospects.

    All the D-1aa schools talked about their scholarships in decimals: .5, .75 and 1.0 One school’s coach was very detailed about their recruiting process: we were their FIRST option as a lineman. we were offered 1.0, and if we accepted, it affected the dollars they offered the next lineman prospect in line. If he was being offered .5, perhaps they would increase him to .75 if we went elsewhere.

    I hope this post helps somebody in a similar situation. This site has helped us IMMENSELY in the process with what is mostly good advice, although we have had to ignore some of it, tailoring our process to suit our needs (like going to EVERY camp that invited us instead of gauging the interest, because in our situation, any interest was something to build on).