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The Spring Evaluation Period: What That Means In the Recruiting World

A look at what this time of year is all about.

Mountain West Championship - Air Force v San Diego State Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images

Monday signaled the start of the next phase in the recruiting calendar. Over the next 6 weeks, from April 16th until May 31st (not including Sundays), college coaches will be on the road visiting high school and evaluating recruits. The rest of this piece will examine the do’s and don’ts of coaches during the spring evaluation period, as well as what to expect from your favorite team during this time.

As the name suggests, this is an evaluation period, which is different from the contact period in January that closed out the 2018 recruiting year. The NCAA website defines an evaluation period as the following:

Also, there are some more rules and regulations, per Although the eval period runs for 6 weeks, any one school can only use four of those weeks to be on the road conducting evals. Sundays are not allowed. Head coaches are not allowed to go off campus to recruit, but instead, the other full-time assistants are the ones who venture out and about.

It’s a bit of an odd time as recruits cannot speak directly to recruits, as mentioned above. There is a loophole where “incidental contact” is allowed. This in theory means a coach can pass by a recruit in the hallway and say hi/hey/what’s up/or whatever phrase is in with the kids these days.

As the name suggests, evaluation is the name of the game. Looking at grades and academics, watching practices, team lifting sessions or conditioning, 7v7 games, individual throwing sessions, or other types of individuals drills. As one might expect, a large number of offers go out during this time. The reason is the coaches get a live look, often for the first time, at players who are on their recruiting board. Players look good on tape, but how do they fare up close? Did they improve from their junior year until now? Are they bigger and faster? Can they make improvements from snap to snap and listen to the instruction of coaches? These are likely to be things college coaches are looking for on their visits.

Speaking of visits, here is another interesting twist on the eval period. Coaches are allowed two evaluations of any one recruit; one is academic and the other is athletic. However, there is another loophole. If a coach does both evaluations at once, it only counts are one academic eval. A coach can then return to conduct the athletic eval. Although it is unknown for sure, one can assume most all coaching staffs are taking advantage of this loophole to get more time to evaluate recruits.

Teams like to put their own unique spin on how they treat this time. In the past, Boise State has done a “Bronco Blitz” in Idaho and one of their main recruiting areas, Southern California. This season, San Jose State has publicized their aim to “Shield the Bay”. These are just fancy and catchy sayings for saying where the coaches will be spending the majority of their time visiting as many high schools in that area as they can. They want to hit a key recruiting area, build relationships with the coaches and school that will pay dividends for years down the line. In my examples, it makes sense for Boise State and San Jose State to attempt to “lock down” the areas right next to them. Also, in the LA and Inland Empire areas in Southern California, where many schools in the MWC and PAC12 recruit, it makes sense for Boise State to try to do something to stand out a bit compared to other schools.

To review...

Coaches can:

  • Speak with coaches or teachers
  • Have contact with recruits or their parents that is not face to face
  • Evaluate a recruit’s grades with their school
  • Evaluate (visit) a recruit’s school twice. Once academically and once athletic (with loophole)
  • Watch a recruit practice, games (7v7 or non football sport), drills or other short sessions, and or weight-room workouts.

Coaches can NOT:

  • Have any intentional face to face contact with recruits. They are allowed to have “incidental contact” such as passing in the hallways.
  • Conduct visits in a recruit’s home.
  • Conduct evaluations on Sundays.
  • Conduct more than two evaluations (though loophole can give them 2 athletic evals)
  • Head coaches can’t recruit off-campus during this time.

It’s apparent this is a key time in recruiting. In many ways, it is the perfect compliment and exact opposite of Junior Days. Where those are all about connecting with recruits, building relationships, and getting a recruit to come to you, spring evaluations are all about going to a recruit, basically studying them instead of speaking with them, and filtering out/ranking the players on a recruiting board at each position. Junior Days are big picture and casting a wide net, spring evals are the fine details and honing in on certain players.

For those fans who want to follow along, MWCConnection will post as many visits as we can find from Twitter and including them in our weekly recruiting roundup. Keep an eye on what schools and coaches from colleges are going to what states, cities, and high schools. While it may be difficult at times to determine which players they are inquiring about, it will provide insight at to which areas and high schools they are attempting to foster relationships with. Furthermore, for those fanatics, you can cross-reference your school’s list of Junior Day visitors with players with offers being visited or players receiving new offers from schools, which will clue you in on which players are being prioritized at this time (“this time” is key as coaches may determine they need to evaluate a player more in the summer and fall before offering or else simply want to see what happens with other players at a position before offering a new player). In short, a player getting offered means the coaches like them. But if a player doesn’t get offered, it doesn’t necessarily mean the coaches don’t like them.

Here’s some additional links if you want to read more about the subject from people smarter than myself: