What are the best ways to determine whether a coach is over recruiting? Is roster size on college website an indicator? Are there questions to ask the coach before visiting that reveal this?

Thank you!

Original Post

Yes, check D3 rosters but not during the off-season.  If there is a JV team, yes, they over-recruit.  You also can ask how many they bring in for the fall.  You can ask recent former players (or current upperclassmen if you are comfortable with that).  

Many D3's over-recruit but few are really deep in strong players.  I think the key is more where the player fits.  For this, ask specifics of where they see the player contributing and when.  Try to see them play or practice.  How does the player's skill set fit?

When my son was evaluating programs the starting point was the roster and stats. The school he attended it was customary to see a roster with 40 to 45. Yet looking at the stats only 25 +/- would see the field. Knowing that it was IMPERATIVE to watch both a practice and a game (the more the better). If you do not believe that you can successfully compete the you probably won’t see the field.

I don’t consider this over recruiting. This is the reality of a very successful D3 program.

Once you have an honest assessment as to your ability relative to those that are playing, then and only then are you prepared to have a conversation with the coaching staff as to “where do they see you fitting in.”

 

Some schools will post their new team rosters in the Fall, which will then could be reduced by the Spring season when they have their official roster.  You have a window of opportunity now in the Fall to look at all of the school rosters posted and even do some research into the archive page.  Look at playing time and retention to see how many players are there 3-4 years.

It's debatable whether having 40-50 players is reflective of a strong program or if the coach is really good at luring kids to enroll in the school in the hope that they will play.  Many D3's are smaller Liberal Arts schools and they get incentives or have goals to recruit kids to enroll in the school, regardless if the kid ever sees the field.  Some of the stronger programs are notorious for a roster churn and want to start with as large a group to cull from as possible.

Fully agree with CabbageDad and ILVBB that the best thing to do for any school a kid is seriously considering is to go visit the campus in the Fall and observe a fall practice  or scrimmage.  There is so much to be learned from the visit that it is well worth the cost if it involves travel.  Beyond assessing the competition and team dynamics, you gauge the coach's true interest during the visit.  Most often they will set up a class to attend, lunch with the players, some even allow an overnight visit in the dorms.  This was all a huge asset to my 2017 as he was sorting through the really interested programs.

I am of an opinion that you will see large rosters (40+) at D3 schools with good programs that attract players that want to be part of a winning program. The flip side is to look at the roster size of programs that don’t have a track record of winning. You will see that this is the case more often than not.

What you can’t tell is the number of recruited players versus those that were told that they will have an opportunity to show what they can do. I maintain that the stats will generally reveal more than the roster.

Just for another viewpoint: I honestly didn't care about over recruiting or roster size or or playing time, etc.  I'm lucky that I have been able to see my kid play, but the one big thing was the coach helping him get through admissions, as he never, ever would have gotten in by himself. 

JCG posted:

Just for another viewpoint: I honestly didn't care about over recruiting or roster size or or playing time, etc.  I'm lucky that I have been able to see my kid play, but the one big thing was the coach helping him get through admissions, as he never, ever would have gotten in by himself. 

Your right JCG, If the coach is willing to help get you through admissions, he is willing to invest in the kid. That is a pretty good sign that he has plans for you. So it probably does not matter how many he recruited. Coaches can only go to bat for so many. 

 

A friend’s son played at a ranked HA D3. He was one of six players the coach helped push through admissions. Those six played four years. 

On the first day of fall walk on tryouts twenty-seven pitchers showed up thinking they were preferred walk ons. There were three roster spots available. The coach kept his roster at thirty-two. 

Including position players trying to walk on, returning players and the six aided recruits there were over fifty potential baseball players. A lot of kids drank the coach’s Kool Aid on their chances of walking on. The roster never showed more than thirty-two. 

This isn’t a shady coach. This is a highly regarded coach baseball people would know his name if I posted it. 

First year head coach in our area several years ago, oh my gosh it was nearly 10. He supplied his fall roster to someone and they posted it on the public web sight. HE was not happy, Showed 75 young men on the roster in the fall. Of coarse come Spring it was down to mid 40's. 

 

So much to manage and analyze. It’s stressful and I feel like we are at risk for making mistakes about choosing wrong schools to visit (cannot see them all, wish we could), or maybe passing up some very good schools because they aren’t aggressively pursuing him, but have invited him to visit. 

Someone mentioned that one of the schools showing a lot of interest has rep for “over recruiting”, which is why I asked. That is not one of the many variables we were already trying to process. 

Thanks for your help. So many questions still!

If you look at the stats page for the last couple of years, you can see how the roster is actually being used by the coach.  How many players are getting playing time (say 50+ AB or 20+ IP)?  How many players are getting fewer than 10 AB or 2 IP?  Do those players play more the next year, or do they quit?  If you have a sense of this, you can figure out how to frame a polite question such as "how do you see me filling the team's needs?"

TS2020 posted:

So much to manage and analyze. It’s stressful and I feel like we are at risk for making mistakes about choosing wrong schools to visit (cannot see them all, wish we could), or maybe passing up some very good schools because they aren’t aggressively pursuing him, but have invited him to visit. 

Someone mentioned that one of the schools showing a lot of interest has rep for “over recruiting”, which is why I asked. That is not one of the many variables we were already trying to process. 

Thanks for your help. So many questions still!

Don't hear what you want to hear from coaches. Don’t twist what you’re hearing into what you want to believe. Your son and you will learn to discern interest from love. 

I feel pretty strongly, and you will see it stressed out here often, that the risk of making the mistake of choosing the wrong school is significantly reduced if your son goes where he can see himself being happy if baseball is not in the picture. In my son's case, campus visits (specifically when classes are in session) were key in really getting a feel for where he could see himself for four years. Best of luck!

I had to think about my definition of over-recruiting for D3. It's mostly a non-issue at HA schools, but that's only 50-100 of the 390 D3 baseball schools, depending on how you define HA. For the others, I would define over-recruiting as the HC intentionally giving you the impression that you'll be a contributor when he really has no idea whether you will or won't. His motive could either be to boost admissions at the school, or he just wants as many possible warm bodies to show up in the fall so that he can figure it out then.
How do you identify this when you're evaluating schools? One way is to compare PBR and PG commit lists against freshman and sophomore rosters and stat sheets. If half of the committed kids aren't on the roster, that would be a red flag. Those commit lists aren't always complete for D3, so you won't get the complete picture. A less reliable method is to find out how many kids get cut in the fall. The problem with this method is that you don't know what the coach said to those kids during the recruiting process. He may have just said, "You're more than welcome to try out, but I've recruited the guys I like."
Assuming playing time is important to you there is really only one thing that matters... will you be good enough to earn time on that team. Who cares if the coach only carries 30 players, if you never get to play? It's not an easy thing to self-evaluate. Ideally, you want an impartial baseball person to compare your skillset to the D3 team. Most high school seniors are not going to improve significantly over the next 12 months. You need to be good enough as a high school senior to compete with those college players.

Son can look into the above. He needs to do more research than he’s doing—a lot of stuff going on this summer between test prep, AP homework, two baseball teams, coach communication, camps, weightlifting, visiting schools, etc.

But these are First World problems—not really problems at all. Just a hectic time.

We agree with the importance of visits. Our issue is that all but one school are 2,000 miles from us. It would take many trips to see the schools he’s talking to, all during his senior school year. Not sure how people manage that. Which is why we’re doing research in order to narrow down and form a plan.

One concern I have is that he is going to continue focusing on the four schools that are being the most vocal in their interest, and shy away from pursuing some of the other excellent options. Coaches all communicate differently. And when you can’t make it to their camps, and they invite you to come out to the school, that to me means there is a possible opportunity to explore, even if they aren’t contacting him regularly yet. Am I wrong about that? If they’ve seen him play? Input on that would be helpful.

Son has been playing two sports and only recently quit one in order to get more serious about baseball training. There is no PG or other metric to measure him by. But there are lots schools contacting him, asking him to call etc.  So yes a part of me is wondering if it’s all real and legitimate.

 

TS2020 posted:

Son can look into the above. He needs to do more research than he’s doing—a lot of stuff going on this summer between test prep, AP homework, two baseball teams, coach communication, camps, weightlifting, visiting schools, etc.

But these are First World problems—not really problems at all. Just a hectic time.

We agree with the importance of visits. Our issue is that all but one school are 2,000 miles from us. It would take many trips to see the schools he’s talking to, all during his senior school year. Not sure how people manage that. Which is why we’re doing research in order to narrow down and form a plan.

One concern I have is that he is going to continue focusing on the four schools that are being the most vocal in their interest, and shy away from pursuing some of the other excellent options. Coaches all communicate differently. And when you can’t make it to their camps, and they invite you to come out to the school, that to me means there is a possible opportunity to explore, even if they aren’t contacting him regularly yet. Am I wrong about that? If they’ve seen him play? Input on that would be helpful.

Son has been playing two sports and only recently quit one in order to get more serious about baseball training. There is no PG or other metric to measure him by. But there are lots schools contacting him, asking him to call etc.  So yes a part of me is wondering if it’s all real and legitimate.

 

If they've seen him play and they have contacted him (even if not regularly), he has dialog with the coach(es).  At that point, again, he just needs to ask the coach(es) the specific questions.  He needs to tell them they are on his list but he has limited time and resources so he needs to have a decent understanding of where they see him fitting in the program and when so he can make smart choices about which schools he can visit, which camps he can attend, etc..  Don't settle for the generic "we see you competing for playing time right away".  Look for dialog that shows they have a specific idea of what his skill set is, his strengths and weaknesses, where they think he'll play, who he will be up against, etc.  There are no guarantees or promises but drilled-down dialog will tell you a whole lot more about what the coaches actually think about the player and where the player stands. 

If most schools that are on the serious list are 2,000 miles away, they must all be on one coast or the other.  Ask the questions.  Do the research.  Talk to former players.  Find people who are familiar with your son's skill set and familiar with the playing level of similar school programs and try to get unbiased input.  Prioritize.  Coordinate a single trip with a few hops and go see what you can.  Usually, the advice here is to cast a wide net, etc., but as his senior year of HS begins, it's time to narrow the field.  In about a month or so, you will be able to make that trip and watch the teams practice and maybe inter-squad.  He should look to see if he feels he is as good as the best ten players out there.

There are obviously a whole lot of other factors that go into this besides the baseball aspect.  Let those factors be a primary driver of narrowing your list.  

Traveling long distances is not feasible for everyone but, unfortunately, there really is no substitute for a campus visit. Of course I only have our experience to draw from but we visited ten schools (nine D3 and one D2) over about a year and some more than once. One local, one four hours away, the next closest (which happens to be the one he chose) an eight hour drive from us, and the rest 750-2200 miles (flew to the 2200 mi one). Six of the schools were handled on a summer road trip, which is obviously too late for you guys at this point. We were fortunate to have a ton of hotel points which made the financial pain much less but, suffice it to say, mom and dad both used basically all of our available vacation time to pull it all off. We knew fairly early in our son's high school career that he wanted to go far away for college so we had some time to prep for that. Also, our son's high school allowed excused absences for college visits so he just had to work ahead and bring a letter back from admissions at each school for days he missed. I'm always open to a PM if you'd like to bounce things around further. This thread had taken a slightly different turn from the original question and I have a very recent and vivid idea of what you're going through.

As somebody already said...if the school fields a JV team, run away.  One thing to remember in college is that as you progress in years you aren't just competing with the incoming freshmen, but also transfers. If it is a successful program, you can see quite a few D1 transfers come down who weren't going to play on their D1 teams...but can start on the D3 team you are on. 

This happened to a good friend of mine's son.  He was on JV as a freshman but making good progress (got called up for a few games) and was on track to be in the mix to start in the OF his sophomore year.  That team made it very far in the D3 postseason and had lots of transfers the next fall.  Even though this kid had made great progress the year before, he got buried again on the JV due to the D1 talent that came in.  Same thing happened his junior year and he saw the writing on the wall and left the program (and quit baseball, but stayed at the school because he really liked the school).

There is no reason to be afraid of a school fielding a JV team if a kid and his parents have done their due diligence and have been realistic about how he stacks up with players already on the varsity roster. I question whether asking prospective coaches how they project you is going to be very helpful. If they over-recruit, they want you in there whether they think you'll play or not, you won't find out the truth until you're on campus and on the field in fall camp. Don't 100% trust coaches words, don't just hear what you want to hear. Go to games, see if you're honestly ready to compete right away or at least soon. Look at the recruits coming in. How do you stack up to them in non-partial state or regional rankings. You'll get a fairly clear picture of what to expect talent-wise, and after that it becomes a work thing.  

Also, if the program fields a JV team, in my experience, the vast majority of reps go to underclassmen that are on the varsity roster that coaches are wanting to make sure get their game reps, the guys that they see having a future in the program. If you're not on the varsity roster or at least on the fringe, you won't be playing JV games either (unless there's a varsity game that day, which is rare, because the coaching staff has to split up), you'll simply be practicing and playing intra-squads.   

Buzzard05 posted:

As somebody already said...if the school fields a JV team, run away.

Sorry Buzzard (and whoever else said this previously) but I have to respectfully disagree that this is a hard and fast rule. It depends upon the goals of the student-athlete and the specific institution. D3s vary widely in how much transfer activity goes on, and from what level. Some kids may love the school and want an opportunity to compete, regardless of what that picture looks like. I know that personally I'd rather get reps on JV, with the opportunity to advance, than ride the pine on varsity for four years.

Agree with the sentiment that you should try to coordinate one trip with multiple visits to as many schools as possible to gauge the team and true level of interest.  With my 2017, we planned a visit to the Pacific NW over the Columbus Day weekend to visit four schools that showed sincere interest after the Summer showcases.  It meant a late Thursday flight up, then a missed day of school Friday to visit the school that seemed the best match, and then long drives to other schools to do coach visits Saturday, Sunday and Monday (no school missed since it was a Holiday) before flying home.  Lots of rental car miles (and an unfortunate speeding ticket for me!) and a one way drop charge but we made it to all four schools. 

My son had already had a text relationship with these coaches so he coordinated with all of them.  Most were pretty flexible as to meeting times and what could be accomplished.  Certainly a tour of the baseball and workout facilities, meeting other players, and walking around the campuses were part of every visit.  And each time I got to meet the coach at the end for the discussion about playing opportunities, where they saw him fit (he was a two-way C/RHP), and a chance for them to hear my concerns about finances being a big part of the final decision.  My son and I agreed that there was no "perfect" match so we told each coach there would be no ED application (which all of them mentioned).

The cost was not insignificant, but we viewed it as essential to making the right decision.  As the old commercial, spend the money now or you will spend more later if he regrets the school and has to transfer.  We did the more local college visits after this trip, which were easier to squeeze around regular school weeks.

Your son's situation sounds similar with all of the things on his plate with test prep, still playing baseball, etc.  Look at it as a great opportunity for him to prepare for the even more extensive time demands in college baseball.  Time management is a critical skill if he wants to play college baseball, so he can evaluate all of the challenges now and decide if he is up for playing college baseball.

Good luck.

 

In a way, the question is, what does each player want out of baseball in college?  And for that matter, what did he want out of it in high school?  Was it an extracurricular that he happened to be good at?  Was it his top priority and passion?  Both?  I ask because we know some players who are going to play at D3s (colleges with 40-50 on the roster), who didn't ever start varsity in high school.  And we know some who were 4-year starters.  It will be interesting to see if their college experiences are different.  Perhaps they just like being on a baseball team, practicing, going to games, as opposed to doing any other extra-curricular.  Figuring out what the player wants out of it is one way to think about whether the roster size is going to matter.  I think that most posters on here have sons who did get on the field in college, but are there some whose sons didn't, but stayed on the team all 4 years anyway?

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