What Makes a D1 Scholarship so Important to a Football Player?
By Gabe Jackson
Patriot Sports Media | October 7, 2019
Many football athletes in high school have high hopes to play for a team such as Alabama or Florida State. Yet, most end up falling short and miss out on their dream too become a star quarterback in the NCAA College Football Playoffs for Ohio State or Oregon. Most players that end up being stars when they come out of college obtained a scholarship, but only a whopping 2% of players acquire these each high school graduating class. This makes competition fierce, and many kids have had to make their names known in their early years of high-school just to get one.
Some kids depend on these athletic scholarships just to get into college. Their grades may be average, yet they were known all around the country for their on-field abilities. Usually when athletes are looking for a scholarship, they look for schools that need their skillset and/or position. For example, a running back may look for a school that needs his body-type as a power runner. Most schools have their preferences when scouting.
I had a chance to sit down with sophomore high-school quarterback for Pace High School Garrett Scheibe and asked him his thoughts toward the next level. “Are you looking for a football scholarship in the future?” His response was “Yes.” When asked, “Do you believe that scholarships are important when wanting to play D1 football or is it just as good to walk on?” his answer was, “I believe that it's important to get a scholarship because it is free education.”
“What year do you believe scouts begin to look at HS athletes play?”
“Usually scouts start to look around junior year.”
“Do you believe they should start looking sooner, and if so why?”
“Yes, if a player is already on varsity in their earlier years.”
One final question I asked was is it important to you that it is specifically a D1 scholarship, do you care?” “No, I feel like it's just really good to get a free education because some people rely on their athletics to get them a ride through college.”
Obviously, it is important to a player that plays high-school football to receive a scholarship to get an education which would usually cost more money than he or she could afford. Some rely fully upon their athletic skills to get them through their education in college.
Damean Bivins is a former Pace High School running back who just this past offseason signed with the South Alabama Jaguars. This was one of the biggest signings out of Pace High since Anthony Johnson signed with UWF and Quaide Weimerskirch with Georgia Tech. Pensacola News Journal also covered the signing of Damean to the Jaguars in its story called “Pace’s Damean Bivins Joins Horde of Northwest Florida Talent at South Alabama.” It chronicles how the head coach had been looking at this area for a while and finally pulled the trigger for Bivins. It was also said that he had offers from teams such as Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Alabama State and Troy, yet most of these had already filled up their depth chart before he could make his decision.
There are 128 FBS (Division I) programs which can provide financial aid up to 85 players each. The 124 FCS (Division II) programs can give out 63 scholarships to no more than 85 players divided equally among them. These scholarships are issued via the National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA.
One problem when it comes to signing with an FCS school is that you cannot play in any type of bowl game. Instead you must participate in a tournament which is separate from FBS teams. Usually if you are looking to join the NFL this should not be the route you take to be noticed the most. Only 167 players in the past 10 years have been drafted into the NFL from the FCS according to herosports.com. That means more than 2000 players that have been drafted within the past 10 years are from the FBS. Only 8% of players are drafted into the NFL during the 7 rounds available each year.
In all it is very difficult to receive a D1 scholarship in football. There are many hoops to jump through and very few ever make it all the way.