Readers of the Maroon Musket have no doubt read the phrase “extended an offer to” a number of times. We do our best to stay on top of the UMass recruiting process so fans can get an early glance at athletes who may one day wear Maroon and White.
What we haven’t done is explained just what it means to offer a scholarship to a high school athlete.
I reached out to Big County Preps, a great website that covers high school football and recruiting in the Tampa area, and asked a few questions about the process. Kyle Bennett, a writer for the site, took some time to explain how it works.
Essentially, most of the offers you read about on here are verbal offers. This means that the coach hasn’t sent out an “official, written” offer to the recruit, rather it is exactly what it sounds like: a verbal offering of a scholarship to play football in the future.
Bennett said that verbal offers don’t put any liability on a school. He added that very few players with verbal offers could actually commit on the spot, and if they attempted to, a coach could tell them that “they do not accept their commitment and that they want to see them at camp or throughout the rest of spring ball.”
For the first time in school history, UMass has 85 football scholarships to offer. All college football programs have a certain number of scholarships available due to the usual course of business: graduation, transfers, or players otherwise leaving the team and opening up scholarship opportunities. To fill these spots, coaches have to extend offers – but in doing so they have to be pragmatic and, perhaps most importantly, realistic.
Several readers have asked me if UMass is offering too much and whether that can get the program in trouble later. The short answer is: “No.”
Again, a lot of these scholarship offers are verbal, so a school isn’t bound to accept a commitment. If UMass made official written offers to way more athletes than its scholarship allotment could handle, then there might be a problem. That does not appear to be the current state of affairs.
Bennett explained that college coaches have to take a number of things into account when making verbal offers: players may not want to attend the school, and players may not academically qualify to get into the school. He said these factors are why there is sometimes a 10:1 ratio (verbal offers made vs. actual scholarships available) during the recruiting process. Essentially, schools have to consider the worst-case scenario and plan around it via a verbal offer.
We will continue to follow UMass recruiting, but as a disclaimer: A lot recruiting news doesn’t specify whether a recruit received a verbal or official offer. Sometimes athletes will announce an offer on Twitter but don’t get into the intricacies of what kind of offer it was. Other times a media source will simply say “offer” without explaining what type of offer it is.
That being said, when you do see an abundance of offers on here, it doesn’t necessarily mean that UMass is overextending itself.
Side Note: UMass has obviously hit the Tampa area particularly hard this recruiting cycle. Bennett told me that the University of Florida and Vanderbilt have developed recruiting pipelines in the Tampa Bay area. He added that several mid-major programs have created pipelines in Florida, including Ball State, Elon and Western Michigan. He said Florida pipelines “exist outside of the BCS, at all skill levels.”