December 15, 2016

College Volleyball Recruiting and Grey Shirting

Hello Coach,

I have found your website to be so helpful with my daughters recruiting to date.  I have a unique question that I have not found the answer in the past blogs.

My daughter is academically advanced so she is graduating in class of 2018 but is only the chronological age of  a 2019.  She is a 6 ‘2 middle blocker who touches only 9’8’” but is technically very good and has a pretty heavy arm swing and is a decent blocker.  Since she is a junior, we are pretty deep in the recruiting process, making unofficial visits, weekly text, emails, phone calls with coaches.  The schools interested in her are mid to low d1 and some d2.  She is getting good looks as a 2018  but her being only 15, I know that she would be much more recruitable as a 2019.  

My question is after graduation, is it possible for her to go to community college (not play there) for a year, play club in spring for her 18s year and then start college in the fall of 2019.   Or I also hear there is something called grey shirting, where  the athlete goes to school at a local community college but works out with the team and then the scholarship starts in the second year with the student then going to the school that recruited her.    If either of these are options, how would one promote that when emailing college coaches initially or how to bring up this option with talking to the higher d1s that are currently talking to her.



There are many talented high school volleyball players who are graduating one year before the traditional 18 years old.  We see this quite a bit, where a 17 year old is graduating high school and even sometimes, a 16 year old is graduating high school.

I have found that there is a big jump in the physical development between a 17 year old and an 18 year old, along with a 20 year old versus a 21 year old.  This is probably why college coaches love old freshman and an old 5th year senior is golden (like Greenwood).

With your daughter's playing position, the more time you can provide her to 'grow' into her height and gain the necessary strength/coordination, the more varied her recruiting opportunities will be (in addition, to more physically successful her collegiate transition).

But, before exploring the options of a transition year (either not enrolling full time or Grey Shirting), take a hard look at the current collegiate opportunities.  

Take away the status or name of the athletic program - Are the schools she is interacting with a good fit academically, geographically, socially, etc?  In terms of volleyball, are these schools going to allow her to have a good collegiate playing experience - Will she be able to contribute in practice immediately, will she be in contention for freshman playing time?

If the family decides to change her recruiting year to 2019, then there are a few items to note:
  • She still needs to go through the NCAA Eligibility Center because she is graduating high school in 2018.
  • If she takes full time classes, anywhere, then she starts her NCAA DI clock - 5 seasons to play 4.
  • Any semester collegiate attendance, during the year after high school graduation, must be part time only and with zero interaction/involvement with that school's volleyball program.
  • Grey Shirting, which means starting full time enrollment/participation in the Spring semester, is not very common in Volleyball simply because the scholarship only comes available if a current college player graduates at semester.
  • As soon as a player enrolls full time, or participates in one practice with a college team (in the fall), they will start their clock and/or use one year of eligibility (which will then need to be retroactively Red Shirted to get that one year back).
  • Immediately update your club's website, and your recruiting bio to reflect the change to a 2019 initial enrollment.
Lastly, the family must keep in mind that changing recruiting class years is not as easy as just saying, I am now a 2019 graduate.  NCAA Division I college programs recruit years in advance.  While there are always last minute incoming freshman class opportunities, these are not the norm. 

Telling a college coach, that you can or are thinking about delaying initial enrollment a year creates the problem of uncertainty.  

By waiting to announce in 2018, the decision to delay initial enrollment to 2019, you may well not have as many options as you did in 2018!

My suggestion, tough as it may be, is to make the best possible decision now and move froward with that decision.  College coaches need to understand what is the initial enrollment year for your daughter, so they can recruit her appropriately.


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