College Recruiting: Demystifying the Process and Understanding the Timeline


In this post, recruiting coach, Brian Scanlon, introduces the process that many of us will be looking into with our kids sooner than later. It’s important to understand the terminology, the timeline and how it all works. 

As your children get older and they graduate from playing 13U tournaments to entering high school age tournaments, you will undoubtedly start hearing about who the “committed” guys are, what college coaches are at your travel ball games, and whose kid is being recruited by what school.  It might seem a bit foreign and overwhelming.  You’ll start to wonder, “Can my kid play in college? If so, how do I get my kid recruited?”

Unfortunately there is no magic formula or potion to solve the riddle of college recruiting. However, you can begin to prepare for the recruiting process by educating your family.  Being educated on the general timeline of the recruiting process will alleviate tremendous pressure.

The typical recruiting timeline for the various levels of college baseball.

To understand this timeline, we will explain the different categories, and the meanings of the terminology used.

The timeline is broken down into 3 buckets:

  1. Elite Division 1 – these players are capable of playing for top 50 ranked teams. Those teams are recruiting players who are also being considered by MLB teams to be drafted.  These colleges are typically in one of the power 5 conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12).
  2. Division 1 & Division 2 with Scholarship Potential – these are the players who are capable of playing at a very high level and will most likely be offered scholarship money.
  3. Division 3 – these are the players who are not quite at the scholarship level, but are capable of playing college baseball.

The timeline is broken down by 4 milestones:

  1. Identification – this is the period where coaches will start to take notice of players and evaluate them to determine if the player currently fits the programs recruiting needs, or projects to one day fit those needs. This can happen at high school games, summer tournaments, college camps, or showcases.
  2. Interest – this is when coaches “take the next step” with a player and consider them to be a “recruit.”  Click here to read our post about understanding if you are being recruited.
  3. Offers – this is when a coach extends an offer of a scholarship, a roster spot, or support through admissions. This will likely happen in person, after a coach invites your family to visit their campus.
  4. Commitment – this is when a player accepts the offer extended by a coach.  It’s important to understand that the first step is normally a verbal commitment, which is considered a “handshake deal.”  The second step is to sign a National Letter of Intent, which secures your scholarship offer.

Now that we understand the terminology, let’s go over a few key points:

  1. The funnel narrows quickly.  Look at the numbers on this pyramid.  10% of little leaguers will play in high school. 10% of high schoolers will play in college. It’s an incredible accomplishment to graduate to the next level of athletics.  Put these numbers into perspective to appreciate the magnitude of accomplishing becoming a college athlete. Understand there is no shame in not being in the 10% of players to advance.
  2. The better the player, the faster it happens.  The kids who are at the Elite D1 level are doing something absolutely exceptional. They are showing metrics or physical tools that are so superior to the competition, they are being recruited at a young age.  
  3. A slow process doesn’t indicate a negative process. Just because your kid is not being recruited as a freshman or a sophomore does not mean they won’t play college baseball. In the 10% of players to advance from high school to college, only 2% are playing at the division 1 level.  The rest are playing D2,3, junior college or NAIA.
  4. There is no secret sauce. It’s incredibly important to realize there are no absolutes in recruiting.  There is no magic formula.  It is a case-by-case, fluid, unpredictable process.  A perfectly inexact science.  The bottom line is you can only control what you can control.  Support your son through this process. Our suggestion is to read this post next on 3 rules for a (somewhat) stress free recruiting process. I bet you’ll find these also apply to travel ball!   

I hope that you found this as an informative introduction to the college recruiting process. I am looking forward to contributing more posts to the Travel Ball Parents community! If you have any questions on the recruiting process please do not hesitate to email me

THE RECRUITING COACHES helps families navigate the tricky waters of the college recruiting process by providing the most truthful advice and hands-on guidance.  Our coaches are all former college athletes and college coaches.  You can learn more about how we can help your recruiting process by clicking here.





Angela Weight

Founder and publisher of Travel Ball, Angela Weight is still a little shocked to be running one of the most popular youth sports parenting sites on the web. Click the ABOUT US tab to read her story.

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