Should schools be able to dictate when a recruit takes an official visit?

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Should schools be able to dictate when a recruit takes an official visit?

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Luginbill By Tom Luginbill
ESPN.com
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It is a delicate balance deciding when to bring a prospect in for an official visit. Back in the old days, when coaches recruited only seniors and hosted prospects on campus only during the fall and winter leading up to national signing day, the decision was much less complicated. Times have changed; the recruiting process starts much earlier and demands on coaches' time are much greater.

In todays world, I believe the official visit carries the most weight in December and January, instead of during the fall on a game weekend. Both approaches obviously have their advantages, but what this ultimately comes down to is time management, both for the program and for the prospect.

When a prospect comes in for an official visit, the coaches want to give him their undivided attention and to map out every aspect of the recruit's stay. During the season, the coaches rarely have the time to do this and prepare for the game. Conversely, an official visit in December or January allows for the coach and program to devote 100 percent of their time and resources to the recruit. The added benefit is that coaches are able to schedule a follow-up in-person home visit by the head coach shortly thereafter.

In this day and age, when unofficial visits are such a regular occurrence, often a program can kill two birds with one stone by having the prospect come in during the fall for an unofficial visit to take in the game-day atmosphere and environment, and then officially hosting the same prospect later in December or January. This is the preferred situation for many of the coaches I have talked to and is becoming popular with recruits as well.

Atmosphere can help sell a school

Hamilton By Gerry Hamilton
ESPN.com
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The official visit during the season is becoming more and more important with each cycle. The ability of a university to put everything it has on full display can happen only on weekends during the football season -- and sometimes the only chance a university has to get a top prospect on campus is an official visit. The game-day atmosphere can be a game-changer; the students are on campus and it's a near complete look at student life over a 48-hour span for prospects and parents.

While the time management for a coaching staff is tougher in this scenario, prospects' emotions can be swayed much more easily than in December and January with an empty university. Football support operation staffs are growing, and many universities have more manpower to use in the official visit process.

Although there are definite cons -- including the underrated issue of player hosts being a bit more preoccupied during the season -- at the end of the day, many times deciding when to bring in a prospect for an official visit can rest solely on the feel the staff gets from the prospect, and what works best for a parent or parents (having the parents on campus for an official visit is just as important as having a prospect on an official visit alone).

The universities which boast great atmospheres that can create momentum and excitement in the recruiting process are much more inclined to host prospects for official visits during the season. For the programs without the game-changing atmosphere, the December and January visits are much more ideal when looking at a staff's best chance to maximize its ability in a recruitment.

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