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College Football Recruiting Trends; Less Players Committing During Official Visits



Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated

Official visit weekends used to be the hottest time for commitments for college football programs across the country. Prospects and their families would take these all-inclusive weekend visits, spend multiple days with the staff and around the program, do all the photoshoots and media sessions, and thenannounce their commitment to that school before or shortly after leaving campus. 

The ever-changing landscape of college football recruiting has shifted and less players seem to be committing while on official visits than ever before. Players are taking more official visits than they used to, and rule changes continue to allow for more. This along with increasing media coverage, the NIL era andmore players having agents hasn’t necessarily made official visits less important, but has impacted the timeline of many commitments.

Years ago, many recruits wouldn’t take advantage of all five of their allowed official visits. They would take one or maybe two visits, often commit while there, and then shut down their recruitment. Some coaches like Dabo Sweeney wouldn’t even allow their committed players to take official visits elsewhere. Now pretty much every big-time recruit is taking advantage of all their official visits and who could blame them. Who wouldn’t want an all-expense paid weekend trip to be treated like a king while seeing all the schools and cities you’re interested in.

Recent NCAA rules are abolishing the five official visit limit which is going to further this trend of recruits taking more and more visits across the country. With recruits taking all of their visits, fewer are committing while on these visits and instead arewaiting until after to consider all their options, before making an announcement. This was the first thing that started the decline of official visit commitments, but media coverage and NIL has continued to move things in that direction.

As the business of recruiting grows, so has the media coverage. Sites are investing more money into covering recruiting than ever before and a big part of that is commitment announcements. Companies like CBS, ESPN, 247 Sports, Rivals, On3 and more have gone all in on recruiting coverage and host live commitment ceremonies for many of the top athletes in the nation. 

Athletes love these press conference like set ups to announce their decision and often gain many followers and a lot of notoriety from these announcement ceremonies. Having more followers and becoming more recognizable allows you to further capitalize financially in this NIL era of college football. With all these companies offering large platforms and live streamed ceremonies, many players are opting to commit through these avenues rather than just announcing while on their official visit.

While the growth in media coverage and the trend of taking more visits has decreased the number of players committing onofficial visits, nothing has impacted this more than the changes allowing players to profit off of their Name, Image, and Likeness. Players are taking their time and dealing with agents to help find which school will benefit the most financially.

Top recruits that wait until closer to signing day to make their announcements will often gain leverage to increase the money they can make as their recruitment becomes more high profile and schools get desperate to land them. As these discussions and negotiations with agents, depending on rules in each state, become increasingly important in the college football recruiting landscape, even fewer players will commit during official visits where those conversations aren’t exactly welcomed. 

The world of college football recruiting has been growing quickly and changing, and will continue to do so every year. As commitment timelines, NIL rules, signing periods change every recruiting class, these changes will continue to reduce the number of players making their decisions while actually oncampus. Big time official visit weekends formerly measured by the number of commitments that happened during those 48 hour trips, will now often pay off weeks, or even months later.

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