4 tips for high school athletes to prepare for the recruiting process

The transition from high school to college can be daunting. With picking a school, deciding on a major and prepping for a new coach and team, the work that goes into playing college football can seem overwhelming. The best way to overcome the stress of transitioning to college life is to start preparing as early as possible.

Collegiate Sports Data President Joleyn Smithing offered the following tips on how to start prepping for the recruitment process and making a college selection.

Start researching early

College coaches begin looking at players well before an athlete’s senior year. Start making a list of realistic school options and get acquainted with the recruitment process. Smithing said athletes should begin talking to coaches during sophomore year – or even earlier.

“The more you know, the more helpful it is,” Smithing said. “Then, you can be a little more relaxed about it as an underclassmen and have more time to explore all the options. Look at schools not just for their football teams but for other fits as well – campus, location, distance from home. It’s very important as an athlete to be looking at what the school has to offer academically.”

Don’t limit yourself

Plenty of athletes grow up dreaming of playing in a certain school or conference. While it’s important set goals, make sure to stay flexible and maintain an array of options.

“Keep an open mind,” Smithing said. “There are so many different football programs out there. Talk to people and get exposure at some of the college camps. It’s a process, and there are so many kids out there that are looking for a spot on the same football teams. Be open to different options that you might not have thought about prior. The course of the recruiting path can change pretty quickly, and it often is outside the athlete’s control.”

Learn what coaches want

Research colleges in depth and find out about potential teams online. Coaches are also looking online to seek out details on potential recruits. Be prepared for visits by finding out what coaches like or dislike before face-to-face meetings.

“Have all the information ready for coaches: contact information, family information, academic information. That is something that starts as early as freshman year, preparing your resume to play football,” Smithing said. “I always go back to appropriateness on social media and thinking about anything that’s posted out there is floating around practically forever. All of that is potentially something that a college coach is going to see.”

Seek guidance from different resources

There are a multitude of people who help prepare athletes for recruitment and college selections. Sit down with a guidance counselor, coach or teacher to start thinking about life after high school. Don’t be afraid to seek out advice from unexpected places.

“Talk to coaches, learn about the paths other athletes have taken or even reach out to former athletes from that school and ask them what they might have done differently. That’s a way you can learn through other experiences,” Smithing said. “We find resources in surprising places. Maybe (someone’s) parents work with a former college athlete or another teacher in the school was a college athlete. Hearing other people’s experiences can be super helpful.”

With classes no longer in session, now is the perfect time to focus energy on where, who and what teams will be the best options to consider. The earlier preparation starts, the less hectic recruitment will seem down the road.

This article originally appeared on USA Football.com.  Click here to read the full article, or go to the USA Football website.