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In the Trenches - Official Visits
Micah Grimes is a former all-state high school prospect who earned multiple college football scholarships. He recently completed his degree and will be writing a blog for FlaVarsity that provides helpful information to guide potential prospects through the crazy and relentless world of recruiting. In this installment, he helps prospects and parents understand the recruiting process.
It was the first time I felt like a big time recruit. I was flying to North Carolina State, on their dime, for an official visit. It was the middle of my senior year. Lots of things were going through my mind, but I was most excited about getting on a plane at Orlando International early in the morning after a Friday night football game.
I felt like a hired gun going to do business.
When I arrived in Raleigh, I was picked up at the airport by Coach Dwayne Dixon, who is coaching at Ohio now. Great guy, great recruiter. We pulled up to North Carolina State University and I immediately thought, "Yea, this is it!"
We immediately went to a restaurant for dinner and watched some football on the TV's. As an offensive lineman, eating was the staple of my day. On a recruiting visit, you are inundated with more than you want to eat. When I got to my own personal hotel room, I had a cookie cake waiting on my bed. When I left, there was no longer a cookie cake.
The official visit to NCSU was a trip in my life that I will never forget. So was the trip to Middle Tennessee State. So was the trip to Troy. All trips I flew on a plane. All trips were free for me. Everything was paid for.
What an honor to be seen as someone worth such gifting. I thought they were crazy for spending so much money on me. Anytime I get $50, I'm ecstatic. Much less the load of money they must have spent on me for airfare, lodging, food, etc.
I got to be around the team, talk to all the coaches, be at the university, experiencing as best I could what it would be like to go to NCSU, or Troy, or MTSU.
I visited NCSU the weekend of September 23rd, 2006. The Wolfpack was taking on Boston College, then ranked #20 in the nation. I sat in the end zone closest to the field house and really took in the college football atmosphere.
I was in awe. This awe turned to amazement as NCSU staged one of the best college football games I've ever seen in person:
When that pass was ruled a touchdown, the crowd erupted in a deafening roar. What a win! I knew then that NCSU was where I wanted to go. Things didn't work out for that to happen as a story for another time unfolded. But, it was a great experience; an experience that I will never forget. It helped me understand what I wanted from a college and their football program.
I tell this story to show the unbelievable experience awaiting recruits who are blessed with the chance to take official visits offered by a college team. If you noticed, I only mentioned 3 official visits I took. I didn't mention any others because I didn't take any more after I committed to Troy.
This is a decision that I do not necessarily regret, but would do smarter if I had the opportunity again. I may not have the chance to do it again, but, as a recruit, this is your time to make a smart choice when it comes to taking your official visits.
Every Visit Is An Adventure
This concept is simple: Take every visit you can! If you're offered by 5 or more schools to come for an official visit, TAKE THEM! If you're offered by 3, take 3; and so on.
This may be the only time in your life where you can be chauffeured around, pampered, wined and dined without worrying about paying a dime for it. I know what some of you may be thinking, as normally letting someone pay for everything is frowned upon.
In this case, colleges plan and budget for these types of visits. Trust me, they have PLENTY of money to use on official visits.
It also allows you to get the most in-depth look at a school possible. You don't have to worry about travel arrangements and the stresses of visiting a college on your own volition.
Look at official visits as your reward for conditioning those countless hours, getting through the never-ending practices, and putting yourself in a position to have your talent be noticed by a college team. You have earned the right to take official visits, ALL of your visits.
Fight Through The Pressure, But Be Wary
Now you may be wondering why I didn't take all my visits. Though I was satisfied and happy with my decision, I did wonder what it would have been like to take an official visits to Colorado State, or Maryland, or Iowa State, or USF.
I felt pressure from coaches to not visit any other schools and just commit to them:
"Don't worry about taking another visit, you and I both know you want to come here," or "We need to know by this weekend or we'll have to offer someone else." This put tremendous pressure on me, as I didn't want to offend my recruiter by saying I wasn't so sure, and I didn't want to lose my offer from a particular school.
I felt pressure from myself to make a decision:
"I better make a decision soon, so I can get all this mess over with and get back to normal." "If I don't commit soon, someone else will, and I'll lose the chance to go there."
Gauge the situation of your offers as best you can, and try to fight the pressure to commit before you're sure.
That said, there is an unknown you must face with these visits, because you're not going to be the only QB or Linebacker they've offered. Oh no! There are many, many more. It's a numbers game.
I had an offer from Maryland my senior year. They wanted me to make my official visit soon. I wanted to hold off. Not many weeks later they had all the Offensive Lineman spots for that scholarship year fill up with commits, and I lost my offer to go there.
You can ask what your recruiter thinks you're situation is and how many scholarships are left, but they are likely to tell you that you're "#1 on the recruiting board" and "Only 1 spot is open, and it's yours!"
The best way to deal with these official visits is to take them all and don't solidly commit to a school unless you are completely certain that is your new home. Even then, take your visits. It may irk your recruiters a little, but they're just acting mad so you're guilt tripped into not visiting another school. They don't want you changing your mind!
But, guess what? If you change your mind, you'll be glad you took that last official visit! Use your official visits as adventures and the microscope for examining the biggest decision of your life.
Official Visits: Quick Tips
Welcome Home (A Home Game): You may find it strange that coaches keep asking you to wait to visit during bowl practice or in the spring. They want you to come when they don't have as many other things to deal with. They want to schmooze with you, talk you up. Don't fall for this, unless it is your desire to come during those times.
Go on your visit during a home game weekend. You'll get to experience everything from the pregame festivities, to the game atmosphere, to the fun that occurs for you after the game. Pretty much, you get to experience what it will be like as a college football player. You'll see what you're going to get on game day.
Game day = The reason you play = The reason you go to the college to play.
Academics: You may or may not care right now, but try your best to pay attention to academic presentation during your visit. You may not like high school, but you also may find that college is a different type of educating system. You get to choose your own classes, their times, and your own degree track.
You may find, like I did, that you like school more than football before it's over with. You'll want to make sure you school has a good academic standing and the degree you want to study. It would be sad to get to a school and realize they don't even have the degree you want. I've seen it happen.
Word Of Mouth: The best way to gauge a school is what people are saying about it. If the students are bad-mouthing the school, and especially if the players are doing so, you might want to second-guess that place. People aren't going to talk bad about a good, prideful place. Common sense.
About Micah: Micah Grimes was a Fort Meade (Fla.) 2007 offensive line prospect. His team won a state championship in 2004 and was state runner up in 2005. He was named first team All-State as a junior and senior. His performance on the field and in the classroom led him to scholarship offers from the likes of UCF, South Florida, Iowa State and Maryland, but eventually committed and played for the Troy Trojans.
He recently graduated cum laude in three years with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. He hopes to use his experience to help mentor future prospects. He is currently Troy University's designate for the Rhodes Scholarship candidacy for the upcoming year.
You can make any comments on our message board. Micah can be contacted by email here
Blog #4: You're a Promoter
Blog #3: Should I go away to play?
Blog #2: Understanding the Recruiting process
Blog #1: Social Media