College Football Scholarships & Recruiting Information

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we explore the scholarship possibilities for potential college football players. We also give some helpful pointers on the recruiting process.


Despite concerns in recent years over player safety, football is still arguably the most popular sport in the United States. More than a million high school boys participated in the sport last year, and at its pinnacle, the sport is a billion dollar industry.

But for high school football players who want to make it to the top and earn a piece of that pie, they have to earn a scholarship and play college football first.


A scholarship, of course, is perhaps the best way to pay for your college education. While you commit yourself to four years of a harrying schedule of workouts, practices, games, and classes and homework crammed in between, when it's all over you have a college degree and little or no student debt. It is the dream for many a high school athlete.

And while in other sports scholarships may be hard to come by, in football there is a wealth of scholarships to be had. The amount and type of scholarships each school can offer depends on the division in which they play. The breakdown is as follows:

  • NCAA Division I - FBS: 85 scholarships
  • NCAA Division I - FCS: 63 scholarships
  • NCAA Division II: 36 scholarships
  • NCAA Division III: 0 scholarships
  • NAIA: 26 scholarships
  • NJCAA: 85 scholarships

While the totals differ between divisions, so do the types of scholarships. For NCAA Division I - FBS & the NJCAA football is a headcount sport, meaning that all scholarships offered to student-athletes are full scholarships.

For the other three scholarship-offering divisions, football is an equivalency sport meaning that coaches can divide scholarships up into partial scholarships for players, so long as the total sum of scholarships they offer is under the cap for their division.

One thing to note is that the NJCAA, despite their wealth of full scholarships, may not be the way to go if you want to stay at the same institution for four years. All members of the NJCAA are junior colleges, with programs typically designed to take two years before the student transfers to a larger, four-year university or college.

They are typically utilized by players who had trouble off the field or in the classroom to work on their grades so they can be accepted to a larger institution. Unless this describes you, you will likely want to focus your scholarship hunt on schools competing in the other divisions.


College recruiting is more built up in football than in any other sport. There are rules that govern player-coach contact, and your visits to campuses. There are recruiting camps and other events that you will want to be a part of if a college scholarship is your goal. The following tips will provide a guide to help you navigate the recruiting process.

Set Up Profiles

There are numerous websites geared specifically toward scouting, analyzing, and profiling high school recruits. You should set up profiles on these sites as soon as possible. From here you can help advertise yourself to college coaches by loading up videos of your play, posting your game-by-game statistics, and utilizing other features these sites offer.

These sites can be tremendously important in football as college coaches are restricted to contacting high school recruits in their junior and senior years--but this doesn't mean that is when recruiting starts. Scouts are often taking note of talent as early as their freshman year, and having an up to date profile - with some eye-catching videos or stats - can get you on college coach's radar early.

Use Your Visits

You get five official recruiting visits to NCAA schools in Divisions I and II (if you are looking at Division III schools, you get unlimited visits there). These are visits which are generally paid for by the school and last a couple days, normally around a home football game. If you are invited to these, you generally get the full experience of what it is like to be a member of that team.

Use these visits wisely. Don't think of them as a mini-vacation; you only get five, so you will want to make sure you visit schools to places where you may want to play.

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