How to Get a Football Scholarship Guide: Tips, Strategies, and Expert Advice

Earning a football scholarship is a dream for many high school athletes, but it can be a challenging and competitive process. This guide aims to provide valuable information on how to secure a football scholarship by understanding the basics, eligibility requirements, and important steps to take throughout the journey. With determination, hard work, and the right strategy, aspiring athletes can greatly enhance their chances of successfully earning a scholarship and furthering their education while playing the sport they love.


Navigating the complex world of college athletics can be daunting, especially without a clear understanding of the various scholarship types and recruiting processes involved. Many factors contribute to a successful scholarship application, such as strong academic performance and exceptional athletic ability. Additionally, focusing on effective high school preparation, showcasing talent to college coaches, and navigating the financial aid process are essential to securing a football scholarship.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding eligibility requirements and the basics of football scholarships is crucial for success.
  • High school preparation and the recruiting process play significant roles in earning a scholarship.
  • Mastering athletic skills and navigating the application and financial aid processes are vital steps.

Understanding the Basics of Football Scholarships

Football scholarships are a sought-after opportunity for talented athletes looking to play at the collegiate level while receiving financial assistance for their education. In this guide, we will explore various types of football scholarships and the differences between the governing bodies for college sports, including the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA.

Types of Football Scholarships

There are several types of football scholarships available to student-athletes, including:

  1. Full scholarships: These scholarships cover tuition, fees, room and board, and sometimes additional costs such as books.
  2. Partial scholarships: These scholarships only cover a portion of the costs mentioned above and may vary from athlete to athlete.
  3. Academic scholarships: These scholarships are primarily based on a student’s academic achievements but may also consider athletic performance.
  4. Walk-on scholarships: These are typically awarded to non-scholarship athletes who join the team and prove their worth on the field, eventually earning financial assistance.

While full scholarships are the most lucrative, it’s essential to explore all available options and understand the criteria for each scholarship type.

NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA Differences

When it comes to college athletics, there are three primary governing bodies:

  1. NCAA: The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the largest governing body, comprising three divisions (Divisions I, II, and III). Football scholarships are only offered at the Division I and II levels. Division I offers 85 full-ride scholarships per team, while Division II offers a maximum of 36 scholarships per team that can be divided among players.
  2. NAIA: The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) consists of smaller colleges and universities, with a less stringent recruiting process compared to the NCAA. Football scholarships at NAIA institutions follow a structure similar to NCAA Division II, offering *up to 24 scholarships per team.
  3. NJCAA: The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) offers athletic scholarships for two-year community colleges. Football scholarships in the NJCAA are limited, with a maximum of 85 full-ride scholarships per team available at select colleges.

Keep in mind that each governing body has its own eligibility requirements and recruitment processes, making it essential for prospective student-athletes to familiarize themselves with these differences and determine the best path for their academic and athletic future.

Eligibility Requirements for Football Scholarships

Academic Standards

To be eligible for football scholarships, student-athletes must meet certain academic requirements outlined by the NCAA Eligibility Center. These requirements include minimum grade point averages (GPA), standardized test scores (SAT or ACT), and completing a designated number of core courses during high school.

For Division 1 scholarships, student-athletes must have:

  • A minimum GPA of 2.3 in core courses
  • SAT score of at least 900 or an ACT sum score of 75

For Division 2 scholarships, the criteria are:

  • A minimum GPA of 2.2 in core courses
  • An SAT score of at least 840 or an ACT sum score of 70

The core course requirements generally include four years of English, three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher), two years of natural or physical science, two years of social science, an extra year of either English, math, or science, and four years of religion, philosophy, foreign language, or additional years of any previous categories.

Athletic Expectations

Aspiring college football players should ensure that they meet the athletic expectations of the colleges and universities they’re targeting. In addition to meeting the academic standards mentioned above, student-athletes must demonstrate their skills and potential in their specific football position. College coaches take athletic abilities, team dynamic, and overall performance into account when determining scholarship opportunities.

It is essential for student-athletes to research scholarship opportunities and target schools that offer scholarships for their position, educational background, and other key factors. Moreover, they should actively participate in high school football activities, be proactive in the recruiting process, and communicate with college coaches to increase their chances of being offered a football scholarship.

In summary, eligibility for football scholarships depends on both academic performance and athletic abilities. Meeting the NCAA requirements, targeting the right schools, and showcasing exceptional skills on the football field are crucial steps towards securing a college football scholarship.

Starting Early: High School Preparation

Maintaining Academic Excellence

High school athletes aiming to secure a football scholarship must prioritize their academic performance. Meeting the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) core course requirements is essential from their first year of high school. Ensuring a strong GPA throughout high school is crucial, as it makes you a more attractive candidate for college football programs. Consequently, regularly communicate with your guidance counselor to keep track of your academic progress.

Additionally, utilize various resources to aid in your academic growth. For example, consider:

  • Attending tutoring or study sessions
  • Joining academic clubs or organizations
  • Seeking help from classmates or teachers

Participating in High School Football

Involvement in high school football is a vital part of preparing for a potential football scholarship. This entails dedicating time and effort towards both practice and training.

  • Practice: Joining your school’s football team and attending regular practices allows you to develop necessary skills and strategies. By working with your team and coaching staff, you can grow as a player and gain valuable experience in a competitive environment.

  • Training: Physical development is equally important for football players. Engage in a comprehensive training regimen that includes strength, conditioning, and sport-specific exercises. You can involve your coach or consult a qualified personal trainer to tailor these regimens to match your goals and needs.

Utilizing your time wisely during high school enables you to excel academically, while simultaneously honing your football skills. By maintaining a high GPA and actively participating in high school football, you position yourself as a strong candidate to secure a football scholarship in the future.

The Recruiting Process: Getting Noticed by College Coaches

Building a Highlight Reel

One of the most effective ways to get noticed by college football coaches is by creating a highlight reel showcasing your skills and achievements. Start by compiling your best plays and game footage, making sure to highlight a variety of strengths such as speed, agility, and technique. Remember, college coaches have limited time to evaluate prospects, so keep your reel concise, ideally between 3-5 minutes.

Make use of social media channels and online platforms to share your highlight reel, making it easily accessible for coaches and recruiters. Also, include a brief bio with essential information like your name, position, height, weight, and academic achievements. Don’t forget to update your reel periodically, showcasing your growth and improvement over time.

Attending Football Camps and Showcases

Another key opportunity to be noticed by college coaches in the recruiting process is by participating in football camps and showcases. These events provide a platform for athletes to demonstrate their skills in front of college coaches through practice sessions, drills, and scrimmages.

Create a schedule of upcoming events relevant to your position and skill level. Make sure to research each camp or showcase and choose those with a history of attracting college coaches from schools you’re interested in. Some events even have designated days where college coaches from specific divisions (e.g., NCAA Division I) are allowed to attend and evaluate athletes.

Here are some tips for maximizing your exposure during football camps and showcases:

  • Prepare: Familiarize yourself with camp formats and drills, ensuring you’re well-equipped to perform at your best.
  • Stand out: Bring a strong work ethic, communicate effectively, and exhibit a positive attitude to make a lasting impression on college coaches.
  • Follow up: Make note of which college coaches attended the event and follow up with them, expressing your interest in their program and sending a link to your highlight reel.

In conclusion, the recruiting process for football scholarships may seem challenging, but with a well-crafted highlight reel and strategic participation in camps and showcases, you can increase the likelihood of being noticed by college coaches and elevating your chances of securing a scholarship.

Developing Skills and Athleticism

Off-Season Training Programs

A well-structured off-season training program is crucial for athletes to improve their overall athletic ability and maintain their fitness levels. Off-season training should focus on increasing strength, agility, and speed. A typical program should include a combination of strength training, cardio exercises, and flexibility workouts. It is important to follow a balanced routine and gradually increase the intensity to avoid injury and burnout.

Here are some key components of an effective off-season training plan:

  • Strength Training: Focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.
  • Cardiovascular Training: Aim for a mix of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and steady-state cardio, such as running, swimming, or cycling.
  • Agility Drills: Incorporate exercises that improve agility, such as ladder drills, cone drills, and single-leg bounding.
  • Flexibility and Mobility: Include yoga, stretching, and foam rolling to maintain and improve flexibility and mobility.

Skill Development and Practice

Consistent skill development and practice are essential for athletes to enhance their football-specific talents and translate their improved athleticism into on-field performance. Focused practice will help an athlete refine their technique and boost their confidence when executing plays.

Here are some important aspects of skill development and practice:

  1. Position-Specific Training: Tailor your practice to the skills required for your specific position on the field, such as route running for wide receivers or footwork for linemen.
  2. Individual Skill Sessions: Allocate time to work on specific skills and techniques, like tackling, catching, or passing, to improve performance during team practices and games.
  3. Mental Preparation: Develop a strong mental game by studying film, learning defensive schemes, and understanding offensive strategies.
  4. Team Activities: Participate in team practices, 7-on-7 competitions, and summer camps to build chemistry and improve communication with your teammates.

By effectively utilizing off-season training programs and focusing on skill development and practice, athletes can significantly improve their athletic ability and chances for obtaining a football scholarship. Remember to maintain a consistent training routine, stay committed to the process, and always prioritize safety and proper technique in all physical endeavors.

The Application and Financial Aid Process

Filling Out Applications

The journey to obtaining a football scholarship begins with completing applications. It is important to start early in the process, as this will increase the chances of being successful.

First, prospective student-athletes should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center to ensure they meet the academic requirements necessary to compete at the collegiate level. These requirements include a minimum grade point average (GPA) in core courses and minimum test scores, such as the SAT or ACT. For Division 1, a 2.3 GPA and 900 SAT or 75 ACT sum score is required, while Division 2 requires a 2.2 GPA and an 840 SAT or 70 ACT sum score1.

Next, it is crucial to research the schools and football programs that are of interest. Create a list of target schools and pay attention to the application deadlines for each. Then, gather the necessary documents, such as transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation from teachers and coaches.

Lastly, when filling out applications, remember to showcase your football skills and accomplishments in various ways. Include videos of your performance, statistics, and any awards or recognitions received.

Understanding Financial Aid and Grants

Understanding the types of financial aid and grants available is crucial to making informed decisions when it comes to paying for college2. Depending on the division and the football program, scholarships offered can either be full-ride or partial. Division 1 FBS teams can give out 85 full-ride scholarships, while Division 1 FCS programs provide a maximum of 63 total3. It is important to know that schools might also offer other forms of scholarships, grants, and financial aid separate from athletic scholarships.

To be considered for any type of financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will provide information on what types of federal and state financial assistance, loans, and grants you qualify for. Keep in mind that financial aid packages may vary, and some schools offer more generous packages than others.

Understanding the financial aid and grants available will allow prospective student-athletes to weigh their options and make informed decisions when selecting a school. Communication with coaching staff and financial aid representatives at target schools is essential to gather the necessary information and ensure a smooth process.

Life as a Collegiate Athlete

Balancing Academics and Athletics

Being a college athlete on a football scholarship demands dedication and commitment to both academics and athletics. In order to maintain eligibility, student-athletes must meet the academic requirements set by the NCAA. It is crucial to plan their schedule meticulously, taking courses that satisfy the NCAA core course requirements and maintaining a minimum GPA to stay on the team.

Athletes must balance a rigorous training schedule with attending classes, studying, and preparing for exams. To succeed in this, setting priorities, managing time effectively, and seeking help from school resources like tutors, academic advisers, or study groups is essential.

Community Engagement and Service

In addition to excelling at the collegiate level in both sports and academics, athletes playing on a college football scholarship are often expected to engage in community service and represent their schools positively. These activities can include:

  • Volunteering at local organizations or events
  • Participating in outreach programs organized by the athletic department or the college
  • Mentoring young athletes in their sport
  • Supporting fundraising efforts and community initiatives

By weaving community engagement and services into their student-athlete experience, college football players develop valuable life skills such as leadership, teamwork, integrity, and discipline, while also giving back to the community that supports their athletic pursuits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps to securing a football scholarship for high school athletes?

To secure a football scholarship, high school athletes should start by meeting academic requirements and showcasing their skills and potential during games and training sessions. They should create a list of potential colleges, network with coaches and recruiters, apply for scholarships and financial aid, and make a final decision based on the offers received and their preferences.

How can a student increase their chances of receiving a Division 1 football scholarship?

To increase their chances of receiving a Division 1 football scholarship, a student should focus on improving their athletic performance, demonstrating commitment to the sport, getting good grades, and actively participating in their school’s football program. They should also attend football camps, create a highlight video showcasing their skills, and establish a relationship with college football coaches by attending college summer camps or showcases.

What is the required GPA for student-athletes to be eligible for football scholarships?

The GPA requirements for football scholarships vary depending on the specific college or university. However, the NCAA sets a minimum GPA requirement of 2.3 for Division 1 athletes and 2.2 for Division 2 athletes. It is essential for student-athletes to maintain their academic performance to be eligible for scholarships and participate in college sports.

What strategies should be employed to attract attention from D2 football programs?

Attracting attention from D2 football programs involves showcasing skills and dedication both on and off the field. Some strategies include attending D2 football camps, having a strong highlight video that demonstrates athletic abilities, showcasing leadership qualities, maintaining good academic standing, and proactively reaching out to coaches and recruiters from D2 schools.

How does the NCAA scholarship limit affect football players’ scholarship opportunities?

The NCAA scholarship limit for football affects the number of scholarships that a college program can offer each year. Division 1 FBS programs can award up to 85 full scholarships, while Division 1 FCS programs can offer up to 63 scholarships (which can be divided into partial scholarships). Division 2 schools have 36 scholarships available, which can also be divided into partial scholarships. The scholarship limits ensure a level playing field across college football programs, but they also make competition for scholarships more intense.

What factors contribute to the likelihood of obtaining a football scholarship?

Several factors contribute to the likelihood of obtaining a football scholarship, including athletic performance, academics, character, and dedication to the sport. Coaches and recruiters evaluate prospects based on their skills, potential, grades, and conduct on and off the field. Other factors include networking with coaches and recruiters, being proactive in showcasing skills through camps and showcases, and having a well-rounded, balanced approach to academics and athletics.


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Helpful Resources

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