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Football Recruiting Guide

Is it your goal to play on a college football team?

Football is one of the most recognizable and dominant sports on the college scene, with TV appearances, huge stadiums and passionate fans. However, behind all the glamor of college football is the down-and-dirty hard work required to get to the spotlight. High school football players who want to make it to the next level must go through the football recruiting process. 

To get recruited for football, student-athletes not only have to be extremely talented football players with good academics, but they also have to understand how the football recruiting process works. From discovering which football colleges might be a good fit, to reaching out to coaches, creating a football recruiting video, attending camps and combines, and finding the best scholarship offer, this is a multi-year journey with many milestones along the way. 

While the football recruiting process can be daunting, we’ve created this football recruiting guide, which outlines the steps athletes and their families need to take to get recruited for football. Use this sport-specific information alongside our College Recruiting Guide, which outlines the whole recruiting process from start to Signing Day. 

Understand how the NCAA recruiting rules and calendar affect the football recruiting process

Do you know when athletes should expect contact from college football coaches? The NCAA created its football recruiting rules and calendars to show when and how college coaches can reach out to college athletes. The rules are in place to protect elite athletes from receiving overwhelming amounts of communication from football coaches. But there are ways to start contacting coaches well before the rules allow them to reach out to you. We explain how that’s possible by going through the written—and unwritten—rules of the football recruiting rules and calendar. 

Understand how to use the football recruiting rules and calendar.

See how you compare to the average height and weight of current college football players

Ever wondered how big and tall the average college football player is? Have you considered where your athlete stacks up next to a D1 linebacker or quarterback? To find out the measurements for the average college football player by division, we went to the source: college football rosters. We pulled data from all NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA football teams’ rosters for the past five years. Then, we averaged all the heights and weights for each position at all division levels. Families can use this information to generally see what division levels might be a good fit based on their athlete’s size.

See how your recruit compares to the average college football player in his position.

Find out how college football scholarships work

Scholarships are available for collegiate football players at the NCAA Division 1 FBS, Division 1 FCS and Division 2 levels, as well as at NAIA colleges and junior colleges. D1 FBS schools can give out a maximum of 85 full-ride only scholarships, D1 FCS schools can distribute 63 scholarships and D2 coaches can offer a maximum of 36 scholarships. The limit for NAIA is 24 scholarships and junior colleges can offer up to 85 scholarships. Outside of the D1 FBS level—which is only allowed to give out full-rides—athletes can receive a partial scholarship, which pays for a percentage of their tuition. We explain more about scholarship opportunities, how they are divided up and how D3 athletes can find scholarship dollars.

Learn more about how much football scholarship money you might qualify for.

Get discovered by college football coaches

College football coaches are looking for recruits with extensive varsity experience, a stellar highlight film, the right body type, high football IQ and good academics. However, even if athletes have these characteristics, there’s no guarantee that a college coach is going to find them. Student-athletes must reach out to coaches themselves. In this section, we go over how to find the right schools, contact those football coaches, develop relationships with programs that would be a good fit and much more.

See what it takes to get recruited for football.

Create an eye-catching highlight video coaches will respond to

Having a stellar highlight video is a must for athletes in the football recruiting process! Highlight videos are oftentimes a coach’s first—and possibly only—way to watch recruits compete, so it needs to really capture their best qualities as a football player. Our former collegiate coaches give insider tips on how to make the best highlight video, including how to start the video, the right footage to use and the skills coaches want to see based on position.

Check out these guidelines for making your best highlight video.

Attend football camps, combines and junior days

After the highlight video, football camps are going to be the best way to show off recruits’ skills in front of college coaches. However, with all the different football camps and combines out there, it’s tough to know which one is really going to move the needle in your athlete’s recruiting. We break down the different types of camps, who they best serve and much more, so families can create a football camps and combines strategy that will take their football recruiting up a notch.

Find the right event to get recruited for football.

Can attending a sports boarding school increase your chance of competing in college?

Although there are countless ways to enhance a student-athlete’s chances of being successful in college, having a strong support system has been proven as being one of, if not the most, beneficial. 

When looking at ways to establish a strong support system, NCSA has often turned to their partners, like IMG Academy. As a college-preparatory boarding school with a team in place to support each student-athlete, IMG mirrors the environment that’s typically seen on college campuses. From academic teachers to experienced coaches to college placement advisors to athletic trainers, the support that IMG student-athletes receive is completely unrivaled. 

Within IMG’s college-preparatory environment for 6-12th graders, as well as gap year student-athletes, athletes will:

If a student-athlete is seeking to play collegiate football, NCSA recognizes that supplementing your family’s recruiting efforts with IMG Academy’s proven boarding school experience can make an incredible difference in that journey.

Explore the opportunities available at IMG Academy.

Search the complete list of college football teams across all division levels

With over 890 college football teams all across the United States, it’s tough to even know what all the options are. We’ve created lists of all the football colleges, broken out by division level, conference, city and state. We also explained the difference between each division, to give a better idea of what might be the best fit for your athlete.

View our full list of football colleges.

Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.

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A profile only takes 60 seconds

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By submitting, you agree to receive personalized follow-up and marketing messages from NCSA by email, phone and automated text. Consent is not a condition of purchase. Standard rates apply.

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While you’re here, we invite you to educate yourself on the recruiting process. Here are two of our most popular articles:

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