But the process of wooing top players isn't nearly as straightforward as you may think.
The recruiting game is watched closely by NCAA officials, and coaches must follow very stringent, very specific rules while chasing the nation's best high school players. They must also adhere to a recruiting calendar, which lets them know when they are allowed, or not allowed, to contact their top recruits.
What follows is the official 2010-2011 NCAA football Division I recruiting calendar.
August 1-November 27: This is technically a Quiet Period, during which recruits can visit with coaches but only on those coaches' campuses. But it's also an Evaluation Period, meaning that recruiters can visit recruits off-campus during 42 "evaluation days" during September, October and November. These evaluation days must be designated in writing by each school's athletic director. Recruiters may not visit any single recruit more than once during this time.
November 28-January 29: Contact Period. During this time, coaches are allowed to visit recruits off campus. Coaches can make only one visit per week to individual recruits. Also during this window, coaches must be aware of intermittent Quiet Periods and Dead Periods (during which no in-person contact is allowed) set for the following dates:
- December 12: Quiet Period (for junior college prospects enrolling mid-year only)
- December 13-16: Dead Period (for junior college prospects enrolling mid-year only; staff may have contact with recruits who have been admitted for mid-year enrollment)
- December 17-18: Quiet Period (for junior college prospects enrolling mid-year only)
- December 19: Quiet Period
- December 20-January 3: Dead Period (staff may have contact with recruits who have been admitted for mid-year enrollment)
- January 9: Quiet Period
- January 10-13: Dead Period (staff may have contact with recruits who have been admitted for mid-year enrollment)
January 30: Quiet Period
January 31-February 3: Dead Period. [Note: Feb. 2 is "national signing day," the first day that recruits can sign a National Letter of Intent for their school of choice.]
February 4-April 14: Quiet Period
April 15-May 31: Evaluation Period. Coaching staffs have 168 days worth of evaluation days; days not used for evaluation during this time window are otherwise considered "quiet."
June 1-July 31: Quiet Period.