The "Offer" How it works... |

The "Offer" How it works...


All American
Jun 18, 2018
Many of the members and visitors may know all this, but since the Spring Game was last night and we had many student /athlete visitors in attendance who may be offered or already are and signing in 2022-23 I though I'd post this. I hope it explains more about the recruiting and signing process and how long a "full scholarship" is for.

College Football Recruiting 101: The "Offer" Game, How It All Works
Jason Hokanson

For many college football fans, the recruiting game is a brand new world. Obviously recruiting is the lifeblood of your program, but many fans didn't really follow it year-round. They just wait to see the product on the field and don't know any better.

The last few years though, recruiting has absolutely taken off, and the importance and the interest has grown immensely.

So as someone who has followed recruiting closely for awhile now, I thought I'd give you a quick rundown of a trend going on in college football recruiting, and it centers around the "offer".

Someone asked me the other day, "what the heck is the point of offering a kid a scholarship if he can't accept it or commit to it?"

What he's referring to are offers given to kids, that are clarified to be offers that aren't committable. Meaning if the player tried to commit to the offer, he'd probably be turned down or told to wait.

So the question stands, why make an offer to a kid if you won't accept his commitment?

Here's why.

Most "offers" to kids at this stage, are bogus offers. Sure, many are the real deal, but there are that many more that are nothing more than a way for your school to stay in the game with a prospect without losing ground on him to other schools. When in reality, the offer isn't a committable one, though it could be down the road.

These "offers" mostly consist of certain verbiage such as, "we are offering you a scholarship depending on three main goals being met: keeping your grades up, continuing to get better on the field, and staying out of trouble off the field."

That way the school has "offered" the prospect, but they have given themselves wiggle room if the prospect wanted to commit right then, saying the offer is based on certain things that must be met first.

Nowadays, offers go out before evaluations are even made on many of these kids. If not, then you won't sign many of these prospects. So if you "offer" a player before making an evaluation, you can see why the so-called offers aren't exactly iron clad.

One example is when Chan Gailey came into the college game at Georgia Tech from the NFL. In the NFL, you better be very sure about a player before you draft him, or you will be fired. Well Gailey brought that same approach to college and tried to make sure about a kid before they offered a scholarship.

Problem with that is by the time a full evaluation is done on a player, if you haven't offered him, other schools have and you don't have a chance to sign him.

Basically the "offers" are a way to keep the school in the thick of the race for the kid, but if he tried to commit at that time, he would be turned down. That's the way the game is being played now.

Tennessee and Alabama for example have offered close to 150 kids a scholarship this year so far. Keep in mind you can only bring in 25 players a year, so offering 150 seems outrageous.

Not when you take into account that many of those offers are simply a way to stay in touch with a player that might be further down the board, but you might want him down the road if you have lost out on other top targets.

It gives you a backup plan basically.

Some might think this is disingenuous to the player if he thinks he has an offer, but really doesn't, and that may be. The kid could turn down other schools thinking he has an offer from a big time school, only to find out that it isn't exactly a committable offer at the time. But that's the way the game is being played right now, and it's up to the player to find out just how sincere this offer is.

If school A reads about a stud player that has 10 offers, that school will most likely send an offer in the mail as well, whether they think they want him or not. The point is to not fall behind in case you do need or want that player.

So you get your foot in the door with an "offer", and then evaluate him. If he's a player you want, then you become the first school to offer him, and he remembers that and it's your advantage.

If he's a player you do not want, then you just forget to call him come spring.

Offers breed offers.

I can't tell you how many times you will see a kid that is relatively under the radar get an offer from a big time BCS school, and within a month he will have interest from many more programs. If one premier school is "offering" the kid, then maybe we should get in on him too.

The bottom line is you have to offer kids earlier now, if you don't, you probably won't land the prospect because everyone else already has "offered" him.

Recruiting is an ever evolving game, and this is just one of many little "secrets" that recruiting entails, but you must grasp this concept to have a better understanding of how the game is being played these days.

What is a National Letter of Intent?

The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a contract signed by both the student-athlete and their college. All NLI contracts must include an athletic aid agreement or athletic scholarship that lists the amount of athletic aid the athlete is being offered for their first academic year. Student-athletes must be enrolling at a four-year NCAA D1 or D2 institution for the first time or transferring to a four-year institution from a two-year college to be eligible to sign the NLI.

The NLI can be sent via mail, email, fax, mobile app or any other electronic means. College coaches are not permitted to hand deliver an NLI or be present when you sign the document. Starting the day that the NLI is issued, a student-athlete and their legal guardian have seven days to sign and return the contract. While athletes may receive their NLI before the initial signing date, they are not permitted to sign the document until National Signing Day.

Signing on the dotted line of the National Letter of Intent means three things:

  1. Your student-athlete has committed to one year at the university. They do not need to sign an NLI after their first year. The school is required to let student-athletes know if their scholarship is being renewed after the first year.
  2. The university is promising to provide an athletic scholarship for that year. The NLI and financial aid package are two separate documents. Your student-athlete will need to sign both. Only Division 1 programs are permitted to offer multi-year athletic aid in an NLI.
  3. Your student-athlete’s recruiting journey is over. No other schools can continue to recruit them and they are not permitted to contact coaches at other institutions.
An NLI is a legal, binding contract. So, it is something you are going to want to fully understand before signing it. Your athlete’s new coach and representatives from the school can help answer your questions or concerns when it comes to signing the NLI.


Living Legend
Aug 26, 2011
What if it immediately follows a sleepover?
excited michigan football GIF by Michigan Athletics


All American
Jun 19, 2017
Not all offers are equal. Some are place holders. If the kid commits and they accept it? Its a "solid ass offer." As neither is binding, the school still has vested interest in keeping their side of the bargain- or word gets around. If its a place holder, they may tell the kid they need to make sure everything is going well with them going forward.

There are real offers, and then there are very high interest offers. If the offer is "commitable" its real. If not, its wait and see..

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