The best way to prepare for a college football scholarship is to understand exactly what it is that a football scholarship means and how it may fit with your goals. While many doe-eyed high school seniors imagine that their only goal is to play professional football, the reality is that very few collegiate players will receive contracts from professional teams. Instead, think about your “outside of football” goals. Consider your career trajectory and consider schools based on how that college can meet your academic and other non-football needs. In other words, what do you want to get from your time in college?
Bowl Championship Series teams, what used to be termed Division I, offer full scholarships. If you plan to accept a full ride, though, you need to be prepared to commit completely to the program. The practice hours, public appearance expectations, and spotlight will be brighter on students in these programs. For people who simply want to play football and can cover some of the costs associated with college, one of the other divisions may be a better choice. At these schools, football scholarships usually are not full rides, but the coach should be able to tell you early in the process how much money you can expect.
Students should not go into college expecting to play immediately. Most coaches recruit with an eye to the future. If a team’s starting quarterback is going to be a senior next year, the coach often will begin to recruit top high school talent. When a team plans to stick with the current quarterback, who is only a sophomore, coaches recruit people who are role players or who will be good off the bench. Preparing for a football scholarship means knowing how to discuss the expectations for playing time with the coaches during recruiting.