For those who have been scrolling on their twitter feeds recently or anyone who has read the MWC Recruiting Roundups over the past month or so knows that many teams around the Mountain West have already hosted some recruits on Junior Day visits, and more are yet to come. But what exactly are Junior Days and what is the point of them?
What are Junior Days?
Basically, they are a very well organized unofficial visit. They are mainly made up of high school juniors who will be seniors next fall (although sophomores visit too sometimes) and in some ways serve as the unofficial kickoff to recruiting the next class (although coaches have been identifying and building relationships with players long before these events). However, it may often be the first time a recruit is stepping foot on a particular campus and may be the first time a recruit and coach meet and interact in person.
What are the benefit of Junior Days?
Mutual Interest Level. This benefit is simple. If a school invites you to a Junior Day, it means they have some level of interest in you. At the very least, the player is on the school’s radar and best case scenario, the player is one of the school’s top targets. Likewise, if a player attends a school’s Junior Day, it means he is pretty interested in that program and wants to learn more about the school and coaching staff.
Head Coach can recruit directly. It’s one of the rare times the head coach of a team is able to have direct, in-person contact with a recruit. There are many times during the year where coaches can’t recruit off campus or can’t speak with a recruit. But events like these can become an “all hands on deck” approach where they can all speak with recruits at their home base. While recruits may end up building the strongest relationships with their position coaches, sometimes words have more power coming from the head honcho. This is vital as their pitch can often sway a recruit over the edge to make a commitment.
Recruits can see the team in action. Often Junior Days are centered around a big event, like the annual spring game. Or at the very least a scrimmage or spring practice. This is by design as they can see what a practice or spring game looks like. Coaches can tell players about their style and what they like to do, but it doesn’t compare to being able to see it up close and personal. Also, seeing stadiums packed with fans for a game stirs up excitement and allows emotional connections to be made, which leaves a lasting impression. It’s another win for both sides.
Campus Life and Academics. Less flashy stuff, but important nonetheless. A player may be bought in to the coaches and team activities, but will they enjoy the campus and community? Will they get a good education in a major they are interested in? It makes a difference and Junior Days are a good opportunity to get those items situated sooner rather than later. Plus, as families of a recruit often attend, it eases some of the parents questions and concerns as well.
Potential Commitments. Which at the end of the day, is the overall goal. As with any time a recruit is visiting a campus, the chances of a commitment increase. It may be on the visit, it may be shortly after (or after the recruit attends a few Junior Days) or it may be months later. However, a visit lays heavy groundwork and leaves an impression in the mind of the visitor. If a program and coaching staff can leave the recruit with a good impression, then it was a success. From the recruit’s perspective, if he left an impression on the coaching staff and got a good feel for the campus and team, then it was a win for them as well.
Here are more helpful links that explained certain things better than this article, or went more in depth about certain things that were not covered here.