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Recruiting Strategy Guide

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Old 07-20-2010, 03:51 PM   #1
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Recruiting Strategy Guide


Two seasons into NCAAF 11 (and years of earlier iterations behind me), here follow some thoughts and experiences I have culled into a mini-Recruiting Strategy Guide. My experience is with a good, but not great, 4* program (Missouri), using All-American recruiting difficulty setting (note that’s a separate setting from gameplay difficulty, for those who don’t already know). Obviously, your mileage may vary if you are playing as Alabama on Varsity.


- Know yourself. Start with a healthy dose of reality by paying a quick visit to Football Recruiting site ( Take a look at the prospects your team has signed in real life the past five years. Unless your team is a national powerhouse, there aren’t many 5* recruits on the list, are there? For most teams (even in power conferences), a 4* recruit is a big win. Don’t expect the list of recruits you sign in NCAAF11 to be much different, especially in your first few seasons.

- So your first order of business is to stop considering recruits that you have no shot of getting. Unless you’re playing as an A-prestige program, ignore players whose star caliber exceeds that of your program if you are not in their top 10. If the list of teams you’re trailing looks like last season’s final BCS ranking, make that top 5.

- Even if you ARE in their top 10, be reasonable in determining the likelihood of landing any top-tier recruit. See which schools are ahead of you. You can probably make up a deficit of a couple hundred points against schools of lower prestige or maybe a few equal or greater – but you’re probably not going to pass a BUNCH of teams with greater prestige. If you’re Washington State or Indiana, it’s going to be near impossible to sign a 4*or 5* recruit from the deep south if Alabama, Florida, LSU, Auburn and Tennessee are all ahead of you. Even if some of those schools don’t recruit the player, some of them will -- and most will have more to offer the recruit than you.

- Ten hours a week is not enough time to get all the players you want if you’re in hard-fought recruiting battles for all of them. You can’t invest a lot of time in a lot of players. You MUST get some easy commits that don’t cost you very much over the course of the season (20-30 minutes every few weeks). Target the #76 3* LT who has you second on his list -30 instead of the #44 3* LT who has you sixth at -220. You could probably get the better #44 player, but it might cost you three or four times as many minutes to do so because you’re further behind and have multiple teams to pass. The difference between the two players isn’t worth it. Instead, spend those extra minutes to get the 4* ML you’re after, or maybe add an entirely new 3* ATH that you can turn into something.

- Lock down your borders! Start by looking only at recruits in your home state and pipeline states, especially those whose caliber equals or exceeds your program prestige. Even a player a star below your school level is a good candidate, as these will often be among the easiest recruits to sign (meaning, with the least investment in minutes). Just like in real life, a decent 3* player will often have a fondness for the local school if they're pretty good (4* or better) and are the major State University (like most universities in the Big 10 and Big 12). For many schools, the pipeline bonus and A+ proximity score might be the only significant advantages you have over competing schools. When you’re investing 40 minutes or more per week, the pipeline bonus can easily be the equivalent of a an extra pitch for free. In-state and pipeline recruiting is your best bet for getting players “out of your league”.

- Next, sort the list of all players (all positions, all states) by interest. Taarget any player of a star caliber one level below your program or better and that has your school in the Top 5. At positions of need, try to target at least twice the number of prospects that the advisor shows you "need", just to ensure you have options if your top choice signs elsewhere. If you can't find that many at your need positions, then target players two levels below your program if the need is great. A 2* beats a walk-on. You don't have to simply choose the "best" or most highly-rated players if there are many similar prospects. The difference between the #11 3* FB and the #19 3* is going to be next to nothing, so pick the one that appears will be easiest and fastest to commit. Not all of your targets will be starters right away, so look to add depth at positions where you might have plenty of players but they're all weak.

- Continue adding players until your target list is full. You will get recruiting points for all recruits on your board, even if you don't call them. This will allow you to "soft" recruit some mid-level prospects without spending any minutes on them in a week. Some prospects as high as 3* will not be on any school's board. If you're near the top of such a prospect's list (-100 or less) but NO schools ahead of you have him on their board, you can actually move up his list. If enough weeks pass and no schools ahead of you have him on their recruiting board, you may find yourself at #1. This is perfect for players who are your second or third choice at a position, but who you don't want to offer until you see how things play out with your top choice. You're not going to have enough minutes to spend any of them in the beginning on players way down your priority list, so this is a way to still move up that player's board for free. That way if your top choice does fall through, you might already be at #1 on your first alternative. Even if you sign your top choice, it's never a bad thing to be #1. In later weeks, you'll be looking to sign players for depth anyway, and you'll sign more players if you're near the top of many lists.

- When selecting targets, balance your desire to improve your overall team talent with the need to improve the talent that sees the field. A 4* HB who is going to back up a 5* player for the next three seasons is probably less valuable than a 3* FS who will start as a sophomore. Remember that the 4* player who gets little playing time might even end up transferring because of it. Talent on the field wins games.


- Strike early! It is imperative to get near the top of prospect’s list EARLY. Just because a school is ahead of yours on a prospects list early in the season does NOT mean that school is also interested in the recruit – especially if the recruit is 3* or lower. As a result, there’s a chance that some or even all of the schools ahead of you won’t be targeting the prospect early in the season. That means the first few weeks are your best opportunity to make up ground, even without investing 50 or 60 minutes into a recruit. If you’re #4 on a 3* recruit’s list and are only -130 back, invest 20 or 30 minutes in week 1 to try to quickly jump some schools that might still be reaching for a higher-profile 4* or 5* recruit at that position. If you get lucky, you might quickly find yourself in the top spot in week 2, and can then offer a scholarship to try to get the Instant Commit.

- Conversely, if you’re #1 on a highly-rated prospect’s list and your school is not a powerhouse, you want to build a lead and hopefully lock him up as soon as you can. When Oklahoma loses out on a 5* QB who commits to Texas in week 3, you’d better believe they have resources to close the gap on you for the 4* QB you’re chasing. Use the Recruiting Reports option as described below to keep tabs on any powerhouse schools that can make up ground quickly.

- Spend your minutes on your needs and highest priority prospects first. It's better to get a few of the players you really need than to get a bunch of players who are going to ride the pine and never improve your talent level. If your talent level doesn't rise, you're not going to win more games. If you don't win more games, your program is not going to become more prestigous. And if your program doesn't become more prestigous, you're going to be recruiting these same middle-of-the-road players next season. If you want to recruit better players next year, sign some good ones this year and go win some games!

- Allocating minutes per player is tough to generalize because there are so many fators that come in to play. Base it on the specific player and your program need. If your highest priority recruits are being recruited by other schools (especially prestigous schools), you'll usually need to invest 50 or 60 minutes each week on them to keep pace with his other suitors, regardless of whether you're in the lead or not. Your goal is spend just enough minutes to get to the #1 spot on his list so you can offer a scholarship. Once you're in the lead, spend enough time on a prospect to maintain a comfortable lead. For a 4* or 5*, that might sill mean 50 or 60 minutes. Lesser recruits sometimes require a lesser investment. Early in the season, prospects 3* or below will often be only lightly recruited or will be recruited by less prestigous programs that you advantages over. If you can stay close or maintain a lead with only 10 or 20 minutes, do it. Spend those points in a tougher recruiting battle.

- Take advantage of the random x2 Advisor Bonus by making pitches or discovering interest every time. The x2 bonus is the best opportunity you have to make up ground on schools ahead of you. NEVER waste a promise or scholarship offer during a week when you have the x2 bonus. You’re leaving points on the table by doing so. The scholarship, promise and comparison points will all be available to you later, but the x2 bonus is random and comes around only rarely. Even a low-value pitch will net good points with the x2 bonus.

- If you’re investing 40 or more minutes in a prospect, try not to use your available Change Pitch options early in the call if you still have a discover interest option available. Use Change Pitch later in the call to avoid guaranteed low-value pitches.

- Pitch any topic with Average/B or better ratings every time. A bird in-hand is worth two in the bush, and Changing Topics only to end up with an Unknown/C+ has done you no favors. The exception might be very late in the season where you're afraid you might lose a prospect if you don't get a huge number. In such a case it might be worth it to gamle, if you know you have high-scoring topics left.

- Program comparisons are great provided you’re at least a full grade better. Your A versus your opponents C+ is a no-brainer, so take it every chance you get if you’re in a recruiting battle, regardless of prospect’s interest in the topic. Comparisons of grades with only one degree of separation (B vs. C+ for instance) are hit and miss; sometimes you get a few points more, other times it ends up costing you a few points versus just pitching the topic. If you’re already far and away #1 on a prospect's list, don’t bother with program comparisons regardless of the rating difference. When you have a big lead your goal is get the recruit to commit right away to you can spend those points on other prospects in future weeks. Better to bump your point total more rather than decrease the total of the #2 when they're already way behind.

- Use the Recruiting Reports options to see what your opponents are doing! It's invaluable. If they're spending 50 or 60 minutes and are within a few hundreds points of your, you need to keep pumping minutes into the recruit. If you've managed to build a lead of some significance, it's possible some of the schools behind you (even powerhouses, sometimes), will give up on a player. You'll see that they are spending zero minutes on him or have taken him off of their board completely. If you’re 150 points in the lead and you can see that none of the other schools in the recruit’s top 5 are investing any time on him, invest only a few minutes or even none at all that week. Instead, spend those points where they have a chance to move you up another recruit’s board – especially if they can get you to #1 where you have the shot at an Instant Commit. Be careful, though – if this a really important recruit for you, don’t run the risk of being caught from behind by a more prestigious school.

- As the season progresses, more and more schools are going to be targeting second-tier prospects as they see their higher-priority recruits commit elsewhere. If you’re not in a recruit’s top 5 by week 4 or 5, it’s going to be extremely difficult to catch up because the schools ahead of you are likely going to be investing 50 or 60 minutes recruiting the player. Unless you have major advantages in several key pitch topics, there’s little opportunity to make up significant ground. You can’t close the gap if the best you can do is match schools ahead of you pitch for pitch. You need to pass those schools up early in the season while there’s still a chance that they’re not yet targets.

- Finally, know when to give up on a recruit, and do so a week too early rather than a week too late. Even if you’re #3 or #4 on a prospect’s list, use all the tools at your disposal to estimate your chances of closing the gap. Remember, it doesn’t matter how many minutes you throw at a prospect in a given week if you can’t make up any ground on the schools ahead of you. If a prospect has High or better rating for Championship Contender, Pro Potential and Program Prestige, you have very little chance at making up ground if the schools ahead of you are Ohio State, USC and Penn State. If big-time schools ahead of you are dumping 50 or 60 minutes into a prospect that matches their program strengths, you’re almost definitely out of the running unless you're within 200 points. This is true even if your program is also rated highly in those areas. High / A for you generates no more points than High / A for them, you’re just spinning your wheels with no chance of jumping those programs. Your only shot at the player in such cases is to pitch them 6 topics and hope to get lucky with the x2 Advisor Bonus. That's big gamble, though, and one that has a high liklihood of failing and wasting your valuable minutes.

- A few top-shelf players will appear at the beginning of off-season recruiting. Presumably these represent players who had breakout senior years in high school and weren’t on anyone’s radar previously. Always go into the All Prospects list again at the start of the off-season to see if any of these new recruits is interested in your school.


- Strike early! Go out of your way to get Instant Commits – they are true game-changers. Strategize to get them. Look at the prospects that have you #1 on their list. If their star caliber exceeds your program and can substantially upgrade your talent at their position, offer them a scholarship the first chance you get for the shot at the Instant Commit. If you can snag a 4* recruit in week 1, you could potentially save 500 minutes or more of time over the course of the season. That extra time could be the difference between landing a couple other recruits or coming in second.

- On the flip side, DON’T offer scholarships to recruits too early on if you are not #1 on their list. While it might get you the one-time big point payoff or even get you into the lead, you have eliminated the possibility of an Instant Commit, which is MUCH more valuable long term. Instead, look for recruits that you are within a couple hundred points of being #1 and pitch them enough topics to generate sufficient points to take the lead – particularly early in the season when there’s a chance you’re the only one recruiting them. Obviously, if the schools ahead of you also recruit the player that week, you probably won’t move up to #1 and will have to keep grinding. However, if the schools ahead of you don’t recruit the player, you might find yourself at #1 in week 2, when you then have an opportunity to offer the scholarship and get the Instant Commit.

- Avoid offering scholarships too early even if you are #1 on a prospect’s list if they are not your top priority at their position. For instance, if you have a 4* or 5* WR as your top priority, don’t offer a scholarship to the “fallback” 3* WR you’re recruiting too early. You don’t want to end up signing a lesser quality player only to have your higher priority player back off a bit because there are now more players on your roster at his position.

- If by week 4 or 5 you haven’t worked your way up to #1 on a high priority prospect and you need the big point boost to make up some ground, go ahead and offer the scholarship if the schools ahead of you have also offered. If the prospect has no offers, you’re not at risk of losing him yet, so it’s okay to wait a bit longer to try to make it up to #1 before offering the scholarship.

- Each promise is one and done, so don’t waste them. Early on, it’s better to find out a prospect’s interest on the various pitches, as this information will be more valuable later on for Coach’s Choice pitches, campus visits and in-home visits. Hang on to promises for as long as possible, preferably for a time when you’re out of other options and are stuck with low-value pitch (Low / C+ or worse) . The exception might be making a promise early in the season to try to get to #1 for a prospect to go for the Instant Commit.

- Don’t overpromise. Don’t promise solid playing time to a guy who will be buried on the depth chart. And obviously, don’t promise to win a National Championship with your 3* program. Broken promises will come back to haunt you in future seasons, as promises to recruits will become less effective. Recruits won’t believe you because of your track record of broken promises.

- Fulfill your promises. It’s easy to make sure a recruit isn’t red-shirted. Simply don’t redshirt him before the season, then sub him into a game for a few plays late in a blowout win or loss. Your track record of keeping your promises will unlock many of the promises that are unavailable to you early on.

Last edited by scadh; 07-22-2010 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 07-20-2010, 03:56 PM   #2
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Re: Recruiting Strategy Guide

Fantastic guide, very informative! I will def. have to try out all of these great tips!
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:11 PM   #3
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Re: Recruiting Strategy Guide

This is excellent, thanks a lot
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:28 PM   #4
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Re: Recruiting Strategy Guide

Amazing bro. Printing this out and glancing it over tonight at home when I have time to sit down and look at it. Straight out of the gate though you make very solid points in the first portion of your guide as far as realism and recruiting and just knowing your teams recruiting background. I like the resources you provide and all too. Great job man. Thanks.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:28 PM   #5
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Re: Recruiting Strategy Guide

Very nice guide. I do a lot of those already but, I'm definitely going to need as much help as I can get in my Miss St OD.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:47 PM   #6
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Re: Recruiting Strategy Guide

Worthy of a pin to the top. Well done.
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:05 PM   #7
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Re: Recruiting Strategy Guide

Very well put together piece. I loved it.

I know it is a long shot, but I just want to clarify that it is not impossible to get a player whose star rating exceeds your school if you're not in their initial top 10.

I am about to grab a 3-star WR with a 1-star school who had no interest in me after the first 2 or 3 weeks of recruiting.

Going into my 5th game, I am now #1 on his list despite me being Tulane, his other schools looking like last year's BCS standings, and "Championship Contender" being high on his priority list.

Last edited by Deegeezy; 07-20-2010 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:17 PM   #8
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Re: Recruiting Strategy Guide

(Sorry for the double post)

When does the x2 Advisory Bonus come available? How do you know when it is there?
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:41 PM   #9
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Re: Recruiting Strategy Guide

I found this to more define how to allocate your scholarships and how much time to spend. I just wasnt always aware of when to offer and stuff. But this has been working pretty good for me so far to stick with these guidelines.

What do you think?


You can have 35 players on your recruiting board and offer 25 scholarships. But you do not want to do that. So how many players should you have on your board? The same number that you want to offer. If you lose a few recruits and want to offer more, you want to re-look at ALL available recruits. That recruit from week 1 that had you at 6 interest may not be interested anymore, or there maybe another recruit that has really jumped in interest (and you didn’t even do anything!). So I advise to only have the number of “OFFERS” on your recruiting board. If that drops, re-evaluate to add back to the “OFFERS” Number.
Number of “OFFERS” should be your number of available scholarships the next season + 3. The available scholarships is{ Current Unused scholarships+ (number of graduating seniors [don’t count redshirting seniors] + number of likely leaving underclassmen}. Ok so you have your available scholarships, now add 3. Because you wont get everyone that you want.
There are 4 Types of Recruits you should go after (Passing certain Recruit Qualifiers):
Recruit Qualifiers – are ideal criteria for a recruit to pass to know the probability to get the recruit. The following are the 4 recruit qualifiers (In Order of priority):
· Level of Interest a Recruit has in your School
· Is the Recruit located in a pipeline state (in your state is best)
· Recruit stars equal to your prestige stars
· Top 5 Teams for recruit (4 teams if you in top 5) prestige equal or worse than your prestige
NEED Recruits – These recruits are very high probable to commit to you and are in positions of need for you. I recommend recruiting at least 2 at every need position (hopefully you get at least one of those). Obviously, there are some that you wont (FB, P, K, etc.) Use your best judgement, but DON’T include REACH, or WANT in this count. This is NEED only.
Criteria for NEED Recruits: Match at least 3 Recruit Qualifiers
REACH Recruits – These are those dream program playmaker legends. These recruits are the 4 & 5-star studs that likely will go to Ohio State, Florida, or Texas. But we can dream right. Hence the REACH label. You want to go after ABSOLUTELY no more than 3 of these types of recruits.
Criteria for REACH Recruits: Match at least 1 Recruit Qualifier
WANT Recruits – These recruits are realistically obtainable recruits that will help your team in one of the following ways: To provide physical depth (if you have only 5 WR and one goes down… need a body in there that is at least decent at WR), planning for the future (you want to redshirt this recruit before the junior starter in front of him graduates), or to boost skill (you are weak at MLB and this kid could be a starter as a True Frosh).
Criteria for WANT Recruits: Match at least 2 Recruit Qualifiers
REPLACEMENT Recruit – This is if you pass fill all the above recruits and have a few commitments and have left over time. Then do as you wish. These recruits are over your available scholarship numbers so they will have to replace players already on your team. So go after some higher ranked guys. To solidly build your team (go after more NEED recruits), or even go after a few more REACH if you want. You have your scholarships solidified, so now just get guys that are better than the ones you have.
Criteria for REPLACEMENT Recruits: Its up to you
It is important to always keep the number of recruits that you are chasing (include commits to this count) at your OFFERS number. If you start drifting more, then you are spreading to thin.
How To Recruit
These are general rules, and I haven’t tested them much so they may change. Keep in mind the idea is building your team, not instantly having All-Americans. Once you start building your team, (thus decreasing your actual needs), you will obviously increase your WANT and should be getting better as a team, thus raising your prestige, thus raising the qualifying criteria resulting in better recruits, hence dynasty. But you have to build a good foundation first. Follow these guidelines to how to Recruit.
· 50 MIN for each NEED
· 40 MIN for each WANT
· Remaining divided over REACH recruits
· When you get a commitment, that time goes into original pot. DO NOT ADD ANOTHER RECRUIT. Focus on the ones you have in your OFFER list.
· EXAMPLE: Say you have 15 OFFERS (most you should go after): 6 NEED (3 actual needs), 6 WANT, 3 REACH
o 6 (NEED) * 50 MIN = 5 HOURS; 6 (WANT) *40 MIN = 4 HOURS. This leaves you 60 MIN to split on your REACH (1 for 60 MIN, 2 for 30 MIN, or 3 for 20 MIN). REMEMBER: REACH Recruits are hard to get, so spreading them thin (example: 20 MIN each) probably won’t get you many.
· If you have more than 7 actual needs (14 NEED OFFERS), then focus on getting those, while instead of WANT or REACH keep going after NEED. If you have that many actual needs, you need help, not reaches.
Questions I do not know the answers to (I know the basic concepts to most of these, but haven’t had a chance to really test them out:
· When do you offer scholarships? - Do you see how far you get with pitches and if you start falling, then offer? Do you offer immediately? Do you wait until they visit?
· When do you offer promises? – See above
· Do you pitch immediately or see what their interest in category is first?
· When do you pitch vs. Compare to other school?
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:46 PM   #10
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Re: Recruiting Strategy Guide

Nice Work.
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