There are many crucial times during the lengthy college football recruiting process. Aside from the official visit and in-home visits perhaps the next most important time is the May Evaluation period. It actually starts on April 15th and lasts through the month of May. During these six weeks, each college is allowed four weeks to evaluate high school football prospects. Not every state in America has spring football.
In fact, less than half do. The Evaluation Period is defined by the NCAA as four weeks (excluding Memorial Day and Sundays) selected at the discretion of the member institution and designated in writing in the office of the athletics. An authorized off-campus recruiter may use one evaluation to assess the prospect's athletic ability and one evaluation to assess the prospect's academic qualifications during this evaluation period. Each school can have seven of their coaches on the road to recruit. Also, from May 1st through the end of the month, they are allowed one phone call to each prospective high school football recruit.
There are several constants you'll see during this time and throughout the recruiting process. First of all, each coach at a school has a territory that they are in charge of and have to recruit. It will likely be a portion of that school's home state and some out of state area. Secondly, most schools will likely go to every single school in their home state. This is part of the process and part ‘good will' for future recruiting efforts, as not every school will have a college football prospect.
The key for this evaluation period is that it sets the tempo or the stage for who ultimately gets recruited by schools.
"May is a key month for us," Iowa Tight Ends Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Eric Johnson said. "This is when we shore up our list. We will start off with 2,000 kids and after the May Evaluation Period we will have it narrowed down to 150 guys or the guys we know we want to recruit. It's also a great time for us to develop relationships with high school coaches and go see kids play in practice and spring games. It's a very significant time for us."
For the college football programs, it gives them an opportunity to be seen as well as evaluate prospects and build relationships. After all, the key to recruiting is winning over kids, families and coaches. It's all about building relationships. That's the most critical factor to achieving success in the all-important recruiting wars. For the kids, it gives themselves a chance to shine in person, whether at practice, a spring game, jamboree or even on game film. It may be the first time they have been seen (live or on tape) by college recruiters or at least seen live, in-person by college recruiters. Whatever the case may be, the kids want to make their case, so they make the next cut.
"It gives us a great opportunity to see all the kids in the state of South Carolina," South Carolina Recruiting Coordinator Dave Roberts said. "We don't have a big state but it's very important for us to see all the schools, coaches and all the kids. That's crucial. But it helps us more out of state where we don't have those same built in relationships. Those kids we have to work a little harder to get."
Another important factor in the May Evaluation period is checking on the prospect's academic status and getting more detailed information on these kids.
"May is a great time to mingle with all high school coaches," Georgia Tech Recruiting Coordinator Dave Wilson said. We want to find out what kind of prospect this kid is? Does he work hard? Does he have the academics? Does he do the right things? We want to evaluate the strength of the program and where these kids are coming from because if we can do that we can get a good indication about the prospect themselves."
So in essence, this is an important time for both the college recruiters and the individual prospects. After the May Evaluation Period is over, the college coaches go back home and meet with the rest of their staff to go over who and what they say during their time on the road. In other words, they have very extensive and detailed recruiting meetings. In these meetings, they will condense their lengthy recruiting lists to a manageable number.
From there, the recruiting wars lie ahead.