No matter how tough a season might be going for a college sports fan’s team, the recruiting process can always bring hope for the future. When a top football player signs his letter of intent in February, he’s just a few short months away from landing on campus. Occasionally, he might even enroll early. Good times are ahead.
The timeline is longer for lacrosse prospects. Now and then, it’s a lot longer.
It’s not unusual to hear that a high-school freshman has committed to a college program, sometimes before he or she actually plays a minute of high-school lax. Sophomores and juniors routinely pledge their allegiances to big-time teams at the next level, despite that college coaches aren’t allowed to initiate contact with prospects until September of junior year.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t watch—even at the middle-school level—talk to prep and club coaches, and encourage players to call them. “A college coach will reach out to a coach at the high-school or club level and say, ‘Have Joey give me a call tonight at 8 o’clock,’” says Malvern Prep coach John McEvoy. “As long as that kid calls the coach, it’s no holds barred.”
The Main Line provides colleges with plenty of talent, and a lot of players declare their intentions quite early in the process. But just because they’re committed doesn’t mean they’ll be getting a lot of money to attend the school. Division I lax programs (except for the Ivies) have, at most, 12.6 scholarships to divide among 40-50 players. Most freshmen don’t receive any money, and even top seniors are unlikely to get full rides. Contrast that with D-I football and basketball standouts, whose scholarship offers are all full boats.
Still, the prestige of being committed to a top school helps a high school’s status and gives players security early in their lax careers. Very early. “I think it’s a little early,” says Villanova University coach Michael Corrado, a Wildcats alum who’s now in his 10th year directing the program. “I’m not too sure why it’s happening. Some schools recruit really early. Others wait a little.”
They better not delay too long. Somewhere, there’s a sixth grader ready to announce where he’s going to college.