This is a guest post from forum user JLoco11. Be sure to check him out on his arena page here on OS.
I did quite a bit of testing this weekend with recruiting and the skill tree to get an idea of how things will work when I do my normal dynasty (after the rosters are completed). I simmed multiple first seasons of dynasty with different level teams, progression rates and recruiting methods and gained a decent amount of knowledge in doing so.
Here’s a very early guide for those interested in some recruiting tips. As your skill tree changes, so will your need to choose different recruiting tactics.
Know the value of your team. Unlike other NCAA’s, ’14 puts an emphasis on school strengths AND coach strengths in terms of recruiting. A Sun Belt school isn’t going to land the top 15 recruits in year 1. Big name schools (USC, Texas, Bama, Ohio State) are going to have easier times in year 1 recruiting. If you take a mid-tier/3* star school, you will have to work harder to land coveted recruits.
Plan your depth chart. I can’t stress this enough, you need to balance out the amount of Seniors, Juniors, Redshirts, etc on your roster. If you go into a recruiting season with 23 seniors, you will have a hard time filling all those spots. Use redshirting wisely to balance out how many players will graduate (or potentially leave school early). 15-18 positions to fill is reasonable. 20+ will be much more difficult in your early years.
Target what you need. Getting all 25 scholarships in year 1 will be a challenge (except for the top schools). 12-15 targets is ideal to capture what you need. Replace outgoing Seniors, and plan ahead for star underclassmen that could leave for the draft.
Plan your coaching skill tree ahead. I will go into more detail on this later, but planning ahead on what recruiting boosts you will need is the ideal way to get an advantage over other schools.
Location Location Location. It seems a large percentage of recruits value Proximity to Home in ’14… it’s quite a popular dealbreaker in the game. While you may have a pipeline across the country (Cali, Texas, Florida), you might see that a recruits priority is Proximity to Home, and you will not land that recruit. Ideally in your first year, go for recruits close to home, or those that do not have Proximity to Home as a requirement.
Higher Need = Higher Points. Goes without saying, but throw everything you can into your top recruits. The CPU does this every time. They max out points into the recruits they want, and schedule visits before you do (more on this later). Don’t be cheap on points with the absolute needed players.
Offer scholarships immediately. Only 1 school (Bama) has the insta commit skill available from the default settings. Unless you alter the skill trees, no school will get insta commits until you rank up your skill tree. That being said, offer scholarships immediately since there is no reason to wait. You want to jack up your point totals early, so if you want a recruit, give them a scholarship offer right away.
Use the filters!!! One of the additions to the point system is a filter that shows you the largest lead & deficit you have when recruiting. You can sort your recruits by these and it will show you how much ground you are ahead or behind, which can determine how many points you want to invest in a recruit. Late in the season, when visits are occurring and battles begin, this is imperative to use… no joke, you will thank me later.
The lonely recruit. If you get lucky, you will target someone that nobody wants. You will notice that after a few weeks, you gain a significant point advantage over other schools, and may notice no scholarships are offered to that student. If that is the case, REMOVE all points from him! You will be wasting valuable points on someone who will be heading to your school as long as you offered him a scholarship. Use the points somewhere else.
Bonus Points will help. You will notice each recruit receives automatic bonus point total each week, and this is NOT a random number. The bonus points are affected by how you play each week, from beating rivals to your play style. For example, Pocket Passing QB’s will get more bonus points the more yards you pass for. Scrambler QB’s will get more points for QB rushing yards. Balanced will benefit from both. This goes for all positions, and each tendency requires something different from your team. Pay attention to the bonuses.
CPU’s logic. Out of curiosity, I decided to make some coordinators mid-season to see how certain schools were recruiting. EVERY school goes after 10 players or so with max points. They don’t bother with partial points, they put the max into the positions they want. If they can put 550 points, they put 550 points into a recruit. If they can put 700, they put 700, there is no middle ground with the CPU. So if you find yourself in a battle with a school, remember that they put the max points every single week.
On Campus Visits
Visits now require strategy. In prior games your only worry was when to schedule visits. Now the on campus visit takes MUCH more priority and knowledge and essentially is the heart of recruiting. The first part of recruiting is getting enough points to earn a recruit visit. Since recruits will only make 5 visits, the importance is escalated even higher.
Get into the 5! I can’t stress this enough, you MUST get into a recruits top 5 choices to at least get an on campus visit. Visits can be worth over 1,000 points (some can go up to 1,500 points). If you miss out on being in a recruits top 5 for a campus visit, you might as well give up on him, since your chance of landing him becomes extremely minimal.
Complimentary & Competitive. In years past, you could schedule 3 QBs to visit in a week and there was no penalty. Now, the game tracks which recruits are visiting each week AND adds a compliment or competitive point total. Complimentary points measure players who mesh well, like QB WR, OL etc or DE, DT, MLB etc. You receive bonuses for complimentary visits. On the other hand, you receive Competitive deductions for schedule rival players, such as 2 Kickers or 4 WR’s. Avoid competitive visits by scheduling any competitive player during a different game. However, if you followed my original advice on managing the depth chart, you should do your best to avoid recruiting too many players at 1 position.
When to visit. This is the biggest gamble you will take. Scheduling a recruit later in the year means more points on the visit. BUT, if the CPU schedules just before you, they could actually steal away your recruit with a good visit. Scheduling early could give you an early lead that you can build off of, but if another team manages a solid late in the year visit, they could steal that recruit back. Unquestionably, this is the part of the game that will determine where a recruit will sign. You only get 1 visit, and will need to make it count.
CPU schedules first. 1 thing to note, if you and the CPU unlock enough interest for a visit at the same time, the CPU will schedule their visit before you do. They might take a week you want, and there is nothing you can do about that. This is why you need to get a lead quickly to get first dibs on your visit week. If you’re fighting with 5 teams, and all 6 of you unlock the visit interest… guess what, the 5 CPU schools will schedule their visits before you do. This puts an even bigger stress on how hard you recruit your players.
Pay attention to visit bonuses. When recruits visit, they will also pay attention to how your team plays when they arrive. If you have a TE visiting, you can get a 200 point bonus if you have a TE with 100 yards receiving. If you have a CB visiting, you will get a bonus for having 2 interceptions or 4 passes deflected. Each time recruits come to a game, make sure you hit their bonuses for more points on a visit.
The Yo-Yo Effect. When the CPU starts their visits, it's perfectly normal to fall behind by huge numbers. You will see 1,500 - 2,000 point swings in their favor. Depending on the time of year, this could be a small nuisance, or a huge roadblock. If this happens in earlier weeks, then you have a chance of passing them with your visit. If their visit happens later in the year, and if they have a successful visit, you could LOSE the recruit entirely, watching them commit to that school. Don't be alarmed if you see yourself fall behind after a CPU campus visit... but be wary of the schools that have late seasons visits.
1 week to sign. EA shortened the final signing period to 1 day, where you have no limits on how many points you can put into 1 player. You can assign 1 recruit max level points (the highest is 15,000) or spread out your point total among your final players. This is your last chance to land the recruits you want and need, so make sure you land that recruit.
Expect heartbreak. If you made it this far, and have 8+ recruits that you’re battling for, expect to lose quite a few of them. The CPU logic is to throw all their points at some recruits, so if you’re fighting with XYZ school, expect XYZ school to throw all their points at that candidate. If you’re trying to space out your points among multiple recruits, chances are you won’t land many. Ideally, if you have only 2-3 recruits you want or need, that’s where to spend all your points. Whatever recruits you didn’t sign during the season, you will have a slimmer chance in the offseason to get all of them.
Transfer/Draft promises. It seems that promises for recruits are no longer available (unless I missed the screen they were located on, which I don’t think I did). The only promises you can make now, are for players who are leaving, who you can try to convince to stay. You can promise them getting a degree, or better draft position if they were to hold out another year before entering. If you promise someone they will be a first round draft pick, that becomes something they will hold you to. So be honest in your assessments of their talent.