While not entirely false, as numerous top-level prospects are swarmed with letters, phone calls, and visits from some of the preeminent programs across the country, the majority of athletes searching for that four-year free ride or that chance to continue battling eleven-on-eleven every Saturday afternoon must take their recruitment into their own hands.
Whether it is filling out recruiting questionnaires, sending in highlight tapes or simply putting in a personal favor to try and get a look, the process is often put largely on the recruitees shoulders. One of the biggest opportunities for the self-made prospect is the summer football camp/combine schedule. One athlete that knows all to well about the potential the "summer football circuit" can have on an athletes stock in coaching inner-circles is Collin McCafferty.
McCafferty, a soon-to-be senior OLB/RB at Kings High School (Kings Mills, OH), is putting his hat in the ring at 10 or so camps this summer.
"I haven't received any offers yet, so these camps are a good way to get noticed, learn what the coaching staffs want, what systems they run and bring some things back to your high school to help in your growth as a player and maybe as a team," said McCafferty, who is projected to play outside linebacker at the next level.
"I really liked the UC camp the best so far," said McCafferty about his experience at Colerain. "I've talked to coach Hinton a few times because his daughter goes to my school, but I was just impressed by how they ran things and how they treated me."
McCafferty basically had his decision to attend the UC camp, as well as all the others, made for him. McCafferty and his father Eric decided to pinpoint their travel destinations based on the schools that have expressed interest through calls from coaches and handwritten letters, but made exceptions for schools in which Collin showed a personal interest.
"We are pretty much going to span a good part of the Midwest, most of the schools and states in that are close to Ohio and home," said Mr. McCafferty. "We plan on visiting a few schools that are pretty far away, but we are keeping it reasonably local right now."
The important word that should standout in that last statement is "reasonably", because around this time of year nothing is really reasonable. With all the travel time and budgeting issues that can arrive with such a hectic schedule, a Summer Camp tour like the one the McCafferty's are on can get quite expensive in more ways than one.
"It starts adding up, and not so much the camps that cost between25-45 dollars a pop, but it is the travel that really gets to you. From getting to place to place to lodging to food, it can be expensive."
Collin already pulled out of the recent West Virginia trip he planned on attending because he needed a rest from the demand of his grueling summer schedule.
"It has really been nuts recently," said Collin, who will continue along this recruiting trail until his last scheduled camp in late July. "I know it is something that I have to do if I want to get my name out there, but some times I just need a break."
The McCafferty's have looked for and found creative ways to navigate the hectic schedule and the ever-increasing costs of the recruiting process.
"Luckily, we know a buddy with a single-engine plane and we flew up to Toledo, so that helped with the cost a little. You just need to find ways to get him there and let him take care of the process."
However, it is not just money alone that the McCafferty clan is spending. Like so many other family members going through a similar predicament, the McCafferty family is also spending a lot of time on the road.
"The monetary cost is one thing, but that doesn't even include how much time you have to invest," said Collin's father. However, it is an important thing for him to take part in, and it really is an interesting thing to watch take place."
The McCafferty family has seen this become almost a bonding experience for them. With each new city, with each new camp, Collin feels that his family is able to write a new page in their history.
"I just have fun spending time with all the kids and seeing how I compare to all of them."
To go through the process is a learning process itself, to see the number of kids is amazing. Miami had I think 400 kids fighting for a small number of spots, so you‘ve got to be realistic."
Mr. McCafferty is just as realistic about the entire situation.
"My role is only to support him and to make sure he gets to the places, it is an interesting process and kind of good to get him the process. It would still be worthwhile even if he doesn't earn a full-ride somewhere. It has just been a great time spending time with him and going through this together."
As realistic as the family is trying to be, the dream of having a scholarship, a free ride to the university of his choosing, is still one that lingers is the minds of both father and son.
"It would be great to earn a scholarship somewhere, that would really mean all my hard work these past four years and this summer have really paid off. I just hope that I got my name out there enough and that someone will give me a shot."
The Collin and Eric McCafferty tour will conclude in late this summer, but their efforts will linger long into the winter months as Colin concludes his four years as a football player and student at Kings Mills High School.