College Football Recruiting: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Enrolling Early

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIOctober 22, 2012

Notre Dame QB Gunner Kiel, who enrolled early, via 247Sports
Notre Dame QB Gunner Kiel, who enrolled early, via 247Sports

Enrolling in college early is becoming more and more of a viable option for football recruits, so it’s worth taking a closer look at the growing trend.

For those wondering what the process of early enrollment entails, it’s actually pretty simple.

Players who have worked hard to achieve all of their high school credits early have the option to graduate in December, which would then allow them to enroll as freshman during spring semester at whichever college they will be attending.

There are obviously a ton of advantages in getting a jump start on the college process, especially for football players. Let’s take a look at the pros of early enrollment:

For one, enrolling early allows these players to get a leg up on any other freshman recruits that will be joining the team during the summer. By enrolling early, they allow themselves to train with the team, learn from the coaches and get to know the system far before other recruits that come into the fold at the normal time.

The player has the advantage of a college training staff and weight room. He has the ability to talk to the coaches, watch film and get to know the rest of the team. After all, he is a part of that team as soon as he takes his first class.

Freshman that don’t enroll early are taking the more traditional approach, and sometimes they don’t have a choice, but there’s no doubt that getting your foot in the door of a program a semester early gives a recruit a whole lot of advantages over all the rest of the players that didn’t have that opportunity.

There are also the obvious advantages from an education standpoint. The recruit will be ahead of the rest of his class by a semester when it comes to classes, credits and overall college experience. That can pay huge dividends for a student-athlete.

With so much to gain from the process of early enrollment, is there possibly anything negative that recruits need to be aware of though?

While it’s mostly an advantageous process, there are definitely a few negatives.

The main negative is that a recruit will essentially be stripping himself of the opportunity to enjoy the final half of his senior year of high school. Sure, it’s generally a lighter semester that’s more about nostalgia than actual education, but it’s a once in a lifetime experience nonetheless, and one that many of us look back on very fondly.

By enrolling early, a recruit is essentially forfeiting the experience of being a true high school senior. Sure, maybe he’ll end up going to prom or to the all-night party, but the fact remains that he’s a college freshman while the rest of his peers are still seniors in high school.

There’s also the fact that a lot can change by National Signing Day, and said recruit won’t have that easy out that just a verbal commitment would afford him. Let’s say the recruit is a quarterback that decides to enroll early and learn the system because the program doesn’t have any top-notch quarterbacks coming up the rankings. If some other top-notch quarterback recruit decommits from another school and decides to commit to our early enrollee's school before National Signing Day, the recruit that enrolled early wouldn’t have the freedom of just decommitting and choosing another school without repercussion.

Being locked in early can be a good thing, but it can also be a negative in the ever-changing world of college football recruiting.

That said, there seem to be more positives than negatives in regards to early enrollment and college football recruiting though.

Recruits get to know the system, coaches and program much earlier than the rest of their peers, and overall, they are set up to be much more prepared as both football players and students.

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