This month, at Signing Day Sports, we have focused on the experience of official and unofficial visits. A college visit is imperative for both recruits and colleges in order to figure out if there could be a fit moving forward.
Check out last week’s article to learn more about the importance of these visits.
Today, we have been lucky enough to hear from two Signing Day Sports users who have recently gone on college visits: Quayvon Cyrus, a senior DB/WR from West Virginia, Kaden Willerford, a senior DB from California.
What Happened on Their Visits?
Cyrus has visited two D-III schools up to this point – Waynesburg University and Bethany University. He has additional visits lined up with a handful of other schools including teams ranging from D-I to NAIA. He has relished every opportunity.
“I feel great after every visit,” Cyrus explains. “Every time I went, they had me swayed. It’s truly a great environment.”
Cyrus’ opportunities to visit schools have been initiated by the colleges themselves. He mentioned that the schools have been reaching out to him to invite him on unofficial visits regularly.
Willerford has visited a handful of top-notch schools as well including Oregon, Utah, and BYU. So far, they have all been unofficial as well.
Willerford appreciated how visits allow athletes to experience the campus in real time. He was able to get a feel for what the coaches are all about.
“You can really feel the atmosphere of the program and what they do everyday,” Willerford explains.
As for the visit themselves, they seem to be similar in nature, but impactful nonetheless.
“We usually get a tour of the campus and then the locker room,” said Cyrus. “After that, usually we’ll go on an admissions tour, then we eat, and then head back to the field for kickoff.”
These unofficial visits are an effective way for schools to show interest in a recruit. And as a recruit, it presents an opportunity to show that you are motivated and excited about their school as well.
“Everyone on the campus would welcome me with open arms,” said Cyrus. “I was able to talk to the majority of the players and met the whole coaching staff.”
Willerford remembers his experiences following these same guidelines. On his visits, he was able to take pictures with the school’s media teams as well. Today, recruits appreciate the chance to get those Instagram-worthy shots taken.
“(Visits) definitely give you the real experience of the college and the city that it’s in,” said Willerford. “Some places might not be the same as you thought.”
This sentiment just goes to show that in-person visits are as essential as everybody says they are. You simply can’t experience what you need to experience in any other way.
What Can Recruits Do?
Communication is key during visits. While Zoom, DMs, and old-fashioned phone calls are still useful in today’s recruiting landscape, nothing beats in-person communication.
“It’s important to do some research (prior to visiting schools),” Cyrus explains from his own experience. “Coaches love that.”
This basis of communication is what creates the trust that’s necessary for there to be a fit between a school and a recruit. Recruits need to be able to show that they care about the school the same way that the schools are showing interest by inviting recruits to visit.
While Cyrus did note that the bulk of his experience has been schools reaching out to him, there’s an effective alternative.
“If you truly want to get in contact with a school, you can definitely reach out to a coach,” Cyrus mentions. “As a recruit visiting a campus, just go have fun – that’s what matters.”
As for arriving to the campus, recruits need to remain mindful of the way they carry themselves. Willerford reminds recruits who are soon headed out on campus visits to carry themselves with respect.
“Speak loud and clear, have manners, and don’t be distracted on your phone,” says Willerford. “Ask questions to show that you are engaged.”
What Does Visiting a Campus Provide?
First and foremost, visiting a campus is fun – evidenced as much by both athletes featured in this article.
“Visiting a college is the coolest thing ever, and it made me realize that every visit is a blessing regardless of the division,” said Cyrus.
More importantly, seeing things in-person can be the difference between being overwhelmed by your college choice or sure of it. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be wooed by a collegiate athletics program?
If you are struggling to whittle down your choices regarding where to commit, visits can help. If you haven’t garnered much interest, but have offers to take unofficial visits, your attitude and preparation for the visit can help. It’s a two-way street.
A former senior recruiting GA at a power-fivel D-I school, Jacob Lapp, has led countless recruits on campus tours.
“Visits are an opportunity to see if this could be your home for the next four years,” he said. “I’ve seen recruits arrive for their visits with no expectations, and leave knowing that they will soon commit.”
From a recruiter’s point of view, it continues to be apparent how much emphasis is placed on the connections that are built during visits.
“There has to be an opportunity for a recruit to get face-to-face time with everybody,” said Lapp. “Otherwise, it’s a guessing game.”
The takeaway is that the experience gained from a visit takes the unknown out of the equation. It is the only real way to make an informed decision about something that will have far-reaching effects on every recruit’s life.