One of the things that I have touched upon in other articles but never really explained it is a Junior Day during the recruiting process. These are held for football, basketball, baseball, and I am sure other sports as well. The basic definition of a recruiting Junior Day is where a college brings in a number of their sought after recruits in the current junior class.
Bring these juniors allows the players to see the school, meet the coaches, get a tour of the facilities, and learn more about the school in general. Because it is still early in the recruiting process for these juniors, it is a good time to get to know some of the coaches and learn more about them and what their school has to offer.
Even though Signing Day 2008 is still weeks away, college programs are starting to bring in players for their Junior Days. If these invites are sent out during the winter, chances are good that the coaches will take the recruits to a basketball game as well. What this does for the recruits is it gives them a chance to see what the fan support of the school is all about.
As far as numbers go, some Junior Days will have twenty recruits or less while others may bring in over fifty high school athletes. From the perspective of a recruit, the smaller the group, the better. This shows that you are one of their elite prospects and that they will give you a serious look during the next twelve months.
Here is a good example of the difference in invites for Junior Days. Both of these schools are in the same state but they took a completely different approach to inviting kids for Junior Days. One school ended up inviting a handful of kids in-state and some other major Division I athletes from the surrounding states. After following these kids after that visit and eventually making college decisions, only a few in-state athletes ended up at the school that had invited them. However, everyone of them signed a Letter of Intent and ended up with a scholarship at the next level. Some were other Division I-A schools, I-AA schools, and one was even Division II. But this shows that at a place like this, getting an invite really does mean a great deal.
The other in-state school focused primarily on bringing in-state kids in. Even though the coach had been there a while and could have had a good feel for the top prospects in State, they invited over fifty players to the event. The problem with this mass invite is that many of them were not big enough for the Division I level (6-foot-1, 200 pound defensive lineman for one). It was probably fun for the kid to get a chance to see the facilities but the percentage of him getting a scholarship there was very, very low. Many of the players at this event ended up playing Division III football and only a small number went on to play at that school.
While I think a Junior Day invite is a good thing, how good really depends on the school. You need to factor in how many other recruits are there and if they are highly rated. If you have questions about what level you can play at in college, that alone should help you figure it out.
Usually a school will hold a Junior Day at one of two times. The first is during the winter where they can bring the recruits on campus. They get a tour, get feed, and then eventually go to a basketball game. As a recruit, you will be given court side seats so you can see the game up close and get a chance to see the fans as well. Don’t be surprised if you have fans of that school go up to you as a recruit and say you should come to that school.
The other time Junior Days happen is when spring football practices are in session. One of the more interested approaches I have heard about doing this is that the recruits get a chance to sit in on their position meeting. What I mean by this is if you are a linebacker recruit, you will get a chance to go with their current players and their position coach to see what they talk about in those position meetings. As a high school recruit, it is a great chance to see what the college game is all about. There is no doubt that you will be impressed because these are likely the players at the school that you have been watching on TV during the last few years.
My overall thoughts on Junior Days is that you should go. Outside of the travel, there is no reason not to. They give you a chance to see the school, learn more about the program, and hopefully get a scholarship offer. As I have said before, expect the coaches to tell you to keep working hard and that they want to see you in summer camp to judge your progress.
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