It’s recruitment season in college football and coaches across the country are promising the world to these football recruits, but there are 3 very important factors high school and transfer portal recruits need to consider when picking a school.
The 3 factors are very important and should only be considered in order. These 3 factors are Opportunity, Scheme, and Brand.
1. Opportunity (Depth Chart, Recruiting Class, Waiting Time)
Every year we see many recruits sign to a school that is logjammed at the position that they play. Ultimately, that player never sees the field. Fortunately, the transfer portal gives some players a second chance, but why try for a second time when you can get it right the first time.
Furthermore, each player should sit down and look at the depth chart, the recruiting class that they came in with, and the class the year before to determine if they will have the opportunity to see the field sooner than later. Hard work is one thing, but without the opportunity to show it, it means nothing.
Just as important, a player should consider if they were to get injured, will they be able to get or earn their spot back. Too many players get hurt and fail to get back into the rotation. Sadly, the potential and sometimes their NFL dreams are crushed because of one injury.
A prime example of a player considering the depth chart when deciding to transfer or not was New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara. In 2013, Kamara was a freshman running back for Alabama. He was behind 4 running backs on the depth chart with 3 being future NFL running backs. Those 3 backs include TJ Yeldon (Jaguars), Derick Henry (Titans), and Kenyon Drake (Dolphins).
Kamara decided to transfer to a junior college for 1 season before landing at Tennessee. His play at Tennessee put enough light on him to get drafted.
2. Scheme (Playbook, Play Calling, and Usage)
After a recruit considers the opportunity to play, a recruit should look at the scheme that the teams are running. Although the opportunity to play is there, the scheme may not fit. There are many players that get a chance to get on the field but never touch the ball.
Recruits need to pick a school where the play calling will put them in the best position to win, to develop, and to be seen. Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach is known for having a pass heavy offense. However, the opportunity for a running back to be developed and seen is slim. The quarterback may break a lot of records and the receivers will light up the stat sheet, but the running back could suffer.
As a defensive player it’s even more imperative to go where the scheme fits. Depending on a recruit’s skill set, the scheme can elevate or hinder his development. Imaging having a hand in the ground edge rusher skill set, but the scheme has you moving inside as a defensive tackle or standing up as an outside linebacker. Ultimately, the scheme does not fit what you do best.
Prime example would be former Miami defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo. Chickillo came to Miami as a pass rusher/ outside linebacker out of high school. The Miami scheme forced Chickillo to add on significant weight and put his hand in the ground as a down lineman. Sadly, the college career he wanted wasn’t as great as it could have been. Chickillo got drafted in the later rounds to the Pittsburgh Steelers who asked him to lose weight to return to a linebacker position. He spent 6 seasons in the league as a linebacker.
A scheme can make or break a player’s career.
3. Brand (What is the school known for?)
Last on the list but very important. Although a particular school will win a lot, that does not mean they produce your position very well. Meaning, they’ve had a hard time developing players at that position for the NFL. A prime example is Ohio State. The Buckeyes can produce everything except for quarterbacks and running backs. These two positions have had great production in college but suffers in the NFL.
However, Ohio State has done well with developing receivers, defensive backs, offensive and defensive linemen, and everything else. Outside of Eziekiel Elliot, Ohio State has faltered at developing good running backs. Alabama for a longtime was known for producing at every position except for the quarterback position. That all changed when Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian were hired to change the offense.
Ultimately, that change elevated the offense and position which produced two 1st round pick quarterbacks in Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins) and Mac Jones (New England Patriots).
Furthermore, coaches have a brand on them as well. USC head coach and former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is known for a good offense but more so as a great quarterback coach. This is why former Alabama and current Philidelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts transferred to Oklahoma when Riley was there.
Hurts knew that Riley could develop him into an NFL quarterback. Riley’s quarterback tree is very impressive. The list includes Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals), Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns/ Carolina Panthers), and Jalen Hurts (Philidelphia Eagles). Also, current USC starting quarterback Caleb Williams is considered the #1 overall prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft.
Also, the Brand of a school can boost your visibility to the world. Depending on the school a recruit picks, he could be on television every Saturday.
Take the advice
There’s no greater pain than regret. Many suffer from it every day because they made a choice that did not benefit them in the end. With that being said, take the advice given here into consideration. The right school or can lead to the life you dreamed but the wrong school could have you wondering what could have been.