Recruiting case studies
Though the trend is for many top junior players to bypass official visits and commit to colleges before their senior year of high school, here’s a look at two players who took several official (and unofficial) visits and say the process helped immensely in making their decisions.
Like many college students, Fontaine based her decision to attend the University of Central Florida on how accessible the school was to home. Only her home is in Santiago, Chile.
Unlike the other three schools – UNLV, New Mexico and Texas Tech – to which Fontaine made official visits, UCF requires only an eight-hour flight to Miami, then an hour more to Orlando.
It is rare for international students to take as many official visits as Fontaine, but she and her family took the process seriously.
“It was a really important decision,” Fontaine said. “I had to pick where I felt most comfortable and where going back and forth wasn’t bad.”
She took in football games on all four of her official visits and “really liked tailgating.” Fontaine was shown around campus by the teams on her overnight trips, enjoying dinners on the schools’ dime and interacting with players.
“I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but I got used to it,” she said. “I think I’m a friendly person, and I like meeting new people, so it’s cool.”
Fontaine’s unofficial visits to Texas A&M and Iowa weren’t nearly as comprehensive as her official visits, but she still gave those schools serious consideration.
Fontaine, a student at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head Island, S.C., committed to UCF in October and signed with the Knights in November.
“I like the weather there and enjoyed it a lot when I went,” Fontaine said.
It’s also closest to home.
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Edfort will play for the University of the Pacific in the fall because of his ability, of course, but, just as important, because of an unofficial – and very unexpected – visit to the Stockton, Calif., campus.
In September 2007, during his junior year in high school, Edfort and his mother put together a packet that included a resume, swing video and introduction letter. Because Edfort, from Somerset, N.J., was relatively unknown in the junior golf world, the two thought the effort would increase his exposure. It didn’t work.
“You have to keep at it and (not) get discouraged,” Edfort said. “It takes time, but you have to think you’ll finally break through.”
That break came when Edfort collected his first AJGA title at the Lessing’s AJGA Classic in July 2008. Schools quickly began showing interest, and Edfort began a series of official and unofficial visits.
Edfort went on three official visits (Davidson, Lafayette and William and Mary) and two unofficial (Pacific and Virginia). The school he finally picked he only visited because another one didn’t want him.
Edfort had an unofficial visit to the University of California set up while playing at a junior event in Stockton but was told by a Cal assistant coach a week before the visit to Berkeley that the Bears already had signed all of their recruits for that class.
By chance, a Pacific coach was watching another player in Edfort’s group, and Edfort asked if he could visit the campus.
Pacific head coach Brandon Goethals took Edfort around the campus for three hours. He also met the team in the cafeteria before practice. The unofficial visit made more of an impact than any official visit Edfort went on.
“I liked him right off the bat,” Edfort said of Goethals, who gave him a tour of the school’s practice facility and courses the team used.“What was so impressive was that he took three hours, unsolicited. That showed a lot.”
Goethals offered Edfort a scholarship in September, and he committed in October.
Edfort said he felt guilty letting down the teams that had spent time – and money – when they hosted him for official visits.
“On officials, we spent more time on campus and more time with the golfers; I stayed overnight on all three,” Edfort said. “I felt bad calling the coach up and telling him I wasn’t coming.”
It was not an easy decision, but because of his numerous visits – official and unofficial – it was an informed one.