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Editor’s Note: Approximately 31% of college coaches in charge of recruiting responded to the survey. Approximately 79% of the respondents were NCAA Division I coaches.

For years we have been reading about football, basketball, soccer, volleyball (etc. etc.) players committing early to a university. Swimming has finally jumped on the bandwagon as we are seeing more and more swimmers giving their verbal commitment to a coach and school during their junior year.

We recently surveyed the college coaches asking their opinion on several topics centered around early verbal commitments from high school juniors.

It appears that the college coaches aren’t in favor of junior year commitments, but the vast majority acknowledge that early commitments are the wave of the future. They may not like it, but they know that if they don’t “play the game” their competitors will.

We have had several of our swimmers give their verbal commitment during their junior year and so far it has worked out well for all of them. The key is for the swimmers and parents to understand the ramifications and to make sure they get answers to the questions they need to be asking.

Although a verbal commitment is not binding; we remind our swimmers that giving a verbal is giving your “word” and it should be honored. In 17 years with American College Connection we have only had one college coach go back on his verbal commitment.

Here are the results.

  • 83% of the coaches do not encourage a junior year commitment
  • 72% of them encourage a verbal commitment in their senior year before the early signing period.
  • 70% encourage juniors to attend Junior Day.
  • 83% encourage juniors to initiate a phone call

Here is the wording of the questions we asked:

  • Do you encourage a recruit to verbally commit in their junior year?
  • Do you encourage a recruit to verbally commit in their senior year before the early signing period?
  • Do you encourage high school juniors to attend Junior Day?
  • Do you encourage juniors to call you?

Here are some comments from the coaches.

  • “I think one year of harassment is plenty, but also don’t want to get left behind in the recruiting game. Verbals are only a benefit for the athletes and so I don’t get too excited by a verbal as many don’t end up going where they made a verbal commitment.”
  • “Trying to keep up with recruits wanting to commit earlier and earlier.  If I don’t also play the game, I’ll be left in the dust.”
  • ”I don’t like the idea of athletes committing earlier and earlier. It doesn’t give coaches the time needed to really get to know the prospect. ”
  • ”With the NCAA pushing for unified recruiting calendars across most sports, we are going to have to accept that this is going to become more common, if not the norm for a lot of high end prospects. The landscape is changing, and we, as college coaches, need to start planning and entertaining the idea of junior year commitments. ”
  • ”Not a huge fan of Junior Verbal commitment.  women’s lax had this issue and adjusted its rules accordingly.  lots of things can happen in 16-18 months and coaches and swimmers could get burned”
  • ”Recruiting is occurring earlier and earlier and we don’t want to be left behind. As much as I hate that it is happening during their Junior years, that seems to be the direction we are headed. ”
  • ”As a Division II coach I can contact juniors to start the process early, but do not try to push them into making a decision before they are ready. If I had a verbal commit from a HS Junior, I would be excited, but take it pretty lightly. ”
  • ”#1 hard to answer; we do not believe in pressuring high school juniors, but the landscape is shifting. We hope PSA’s will make unofficial visits so that they are better informed when faced with the pressures & opportunities of an “early” commitment”
  • ”it is what it is – we will adapt”

Finding out if you have what it takes to compete in swimming at the college level is easy, and many swimmers do have the potential considering all of the options.  Go to www.ACCrecruits and submit a Free Profile.