When should athletes start the college recruiting process?
The earlier you start the better off you will be. You definitely do not want to wait until your senior year. Ideally you should start prepping your sophomore year in high school, and by the time you are a junior your marketing plan will be in full swing. The NCAA has rules that prohibit college recruiters from contacting high school athletes until they are finished with their junior year (emails are okay as a junior).
You can contact coaches via email or phone as a sophomore, and coaches can send you questionnaires and brochures about camps; however, the real recruiting starts when you become a junior in high school. That is when coaches start deciding what they need for the upcoming recruiting classes. Coaches begin to take more of an interest in your highlight videos, and start to follow your press clippings as you become a legit prospect. The competitiveness of the recruiting game has changed with the advancements of technology. If you are not out there marketing your skills then there is a good chance that you’ll be looked over.
When your junior year begins you should email your recruiting profile to the schools on your target list. Depending on responses you can follow up with a phone call. Don’t sit back and hope college scouts are going to discover you; you need to be proactive and get your name out there early your junior year. Deciding on a school doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process and you want to allow plenty of time in case your target schools aren’t interested.