High Academic and Ivy Football - Junior Year Planning

Advice requested please! I’m a Southern California single mom with one child. My son is a 16-year-old junior with a 4.6 GPA (4.0 unweighted), 1560 SAT (800 math), president of a local volunteer organization, works part-time, and will be captain of the varsity football team next year. He is 6’2", 235 lbs, and plays OL and DL (I absolutely hate the fact that his coaches played him for almost every single play except special teams all season - so very dangerous and I’m torn between pride and wanting to throw up with every snap). We don’t have PSAT results yet but given his SAT scores we are very optimistic that he will be a NMSF/F too.

He wants to study engineering at the best brand name school he can get into. He thinks football might be his ticket to achieve that goal. I love him more than anything and would be proud of him no matter where he goes. And I hate putting his brain/health at risk! I make a solid income that makes me think we won’t qualify for much need-based aid except for at the most generous schools (hello Harvard). I haven’t run NPC calculators yet, waiting to do 2019 taxes, and I only have $20k saved in his 529. So I am digging hard into learning about merit-based options including UCF and the other Florida schools for NMF full rides (UT-D is not an option); Stamps scholarship at U.Miami where he would also be a legacy (I’m an alumna - Go Canes!); and other outside support options for the UCs which I could afford to do full-pay as a CA resident, but barely. We toured Cal last summer and loved it, and he would also be very happy at UCLA. We consider UCI and UCSD to be safety schools for him, at least academically. I will not let him play D1 football and he’s probably not big/good enough to anyway.

So football. He is a very good player, but not All American. However he is easily in the top level AI for any of the Ivys, and would help pull up their stats in that regard. I have so many questions! Is it true that the Ivy coaches really care about their players as scholars first and football players second? Would he have time for a social life in the off-season at an Ivy? Are we crazy to think he’s even a serious Ivy contender, given that there are plenty of players bigger and better than him with only slightly lower AIs?

Any advice or thoughts you brilliant people have would be greatly appreciated.

Ivy football is D1 football. Football at some of the best engineering schools is D1 football (ND, Duke, Stanford, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, etc).

IMO the Ivy coaches will recruit him if they want him to play, not because of his AI.

Have you considered the smaller lac? He has the stats for the top schools and the football is D3 with outstanding academics. Schools like Williams will meet all your financial need and are need blind admissions. Might be a good blend of slightly less intense football (he’d be a star) and top notch academics. There are several kids good enough to go D1 who play D3 every year at Williams and Amherst. If you have the financial need it can be a good way to not have your athletic participation dictate your money.

@Ohiodad51 has shared a ton of useful info on Ivy football. He will likely chime in at some point but it’d be well worth reading his past posts.

I’m far more familiar with Track and Field than football but my sense from second and third hand info is that yes, Ivy football players like other Ivy athletes are treated as student-athletes rather than athlete-students. Sport and academic demands are very real at these schools but there is time enough for social activities (and hanging out with teammates is itself a social activity). If the question is whether he can continue his sport and still enjoy college life at an Ivy, I’d say definitely unless college life includes hanging out at the coffee shop all afternoon doing nothing. There just isn’t much slack in an Ivy student-athlete schedule, and some opportunities that conflict with the practice and game schedule might be missed, but he can make a balanced life for himself. As far as brain health, Ivy football coaches have really led the way in minimizing those risks.

I would run the NPCs now with 2018 tax info (that’s what the current NPCs are set up for). It’ll give you a good idea of whether the Ivies might be affordable and even worth looking at. Harvard, Yale, Princeton are the most generous for most people. So that’ll give you an idea of best case. But if you’re being recruited by one of those, other Ivies typically will match FA during the pre read process. So if HYP looks good financially and you can get recruiting interest, don’t ignore Cornell, Columbia, etc. even if their NPCs don’t look affordable. Coaches can help explain this.

Be sure to take a look at Ivy League and D3 rosters for size comparisons of linemen. Just because it isn’t high D1 doesn’t mean the kids aren’t huge, strong and fast.

@twoinanddone thank you for the correction! I realized after submitting my OP that I had misstated my point, as I did know that the Ivys are D1. I stated it the way that I did because they are pretty insular within that league, if I understand correctly? Like, they would never play Alabama or Ohio State? And that’s why I wouldn’t want my son playing at Stanford, Cal, or UCLA because they do play the heavyweights.

@one1ofeach out here on the West Coast we know next to nothing about the NE LACs. We did the CMC football camp last spring (Claremont/Scripps/Harvey Mudd) and although he appreciates Mudd’s stellar engineering reputation, he did not love the location or vibe of the campuses. He said they were far out in the middle of nowhere. We are going on a trip next spring to visit U.Miami, so I’ll put some of the NE LACs on his radar to see if he wants to tour them as part of the trip.

@politeperson I’m hesitating to run the 2018 NPCs for two reasons: my income has significantly changed (so I guess I’d just have to plug in my estimated 2019 income) and importantly, I haven’t yet broached the topic with his father and I have no idea if he’s willing to cooperate or contribute. So I’ll need to investigate each school to see what their policy is on divorced parents. It’s definitely on my to-do list.


I’m reading this thread just because a friend/neighbor has multiple “offers” from HYPD schools; and full-ride offers at some lower level midwest D1 state schools. He was given “offers” from the ivies right after his junior year. No idea what he will chose; and I don’t ask when we chat! SO I am mentioning this because I think the timing is interesting; and wanted to share the level of play he’s at. He’s been on coaches’ radar for quite awhile.

@bgbg4us would you happen to know your neighbor’s relative academic and football strength? I’m trying to calibrate my son against what the Ivies are currently recruiting for. Based on a quick scan of several 2018 rosters it sure seems like they’re looking for the same level of football talent as any other D1 (big, athletic looking guys!). How many on their rosters are top level academic performers and would my son’s near-perfect stats give him an edge over a player who may weigh 10lbs more than him but with much lower stats, etc.? Also did your neighbor go to any particular camp? Did his coaches send his film and grades to the coaches or did he? Did he use any particular website to create a profile? Anyone else who could give insight into what has or has not worked would be great, too. My son is on hudl this week making his film and now that we have his SAT scores, he’s excited to start putting his story out there.

@StanleyCup2018 I know, they do seem to be mostly huge, regular football player looking guys on the few Ivy rosters I’ve looked at. I’m wondering if my son’s high academic results are irrelevant and I need to be preparing him for rejection - at least for college football. He knows that at 6’2" 235 lbs he’s very small for OL and thank goodness he has no interest in bulking up any more than he is, so he’s working off-season to learn a new non-skill position. (And I’m still crossing my fingers for a regular acceptance somewhere he’ll be happy plus a full ride from NMF, Stamps, or similar, lol).

The OL player my DS’s school is sending to the Ivy League is 6’3” 295lbs.

Don’t forget you are also comparing the size of a 16 year old to the perhaps 21 year old linemen on college teams. Boys continue to grow.

One issue with the LACs is that not all offer engineering. They might have the right football teams but the wrong fit for academics.

There are some D2 schools with engineering and football. Colorado School of Mines usually has a pretty good team and certainly excellent engineering.

The AI can definately help with an IL and recruiting. The IL coaches are looking for football players/athletes but do have to pay attention to the recruits AI, including the team’s overall AI.
As mentioned, @Ohiodad51 has good experiance and input on IL and football.
I would have your son fill out a few school recruiting questionnaires if he hasn’t already and then send the recruiting coach for your area a short email with a link to his film and see if he gets contacted directly by the coach. HYP could be a good start. Others such as Columbia, Cornell, Brown also have good reputations for engineering.
As others noted, many LAC do not have engineering though one school to look at would be Tufts University. Tufts is not the typical NESCAC, it borders Boston and has an excellent reputation for engineering & sciences as well as fairly good NESCAC football.
Based on what you have said, I think you may like the way the NESCAC goes about football such as the size of the roster, shortness of the season, etc.
Good luck!

@sherimba03 take a look at Carnegie Mellon. Outstanding engineering, D3 football. I know a boy, now a junior football player there, lower stats than your son and an average football player. Exact same size as your son. I don’t believe he would have gotten into CMU without football. They were very generous with aid for him, and he is not low income by any stretch. It’s very hard for them to find players who meet the academic requirements. There’s some wiggle room, but not a lot. I think they would jump at your son! Good luck!

And school does come first - when there are conflicts with labs or whatever, players are told to go to class (at CMU anyway).

Both Case Western and Carnegie Mellon received votes in the last D3 national poll. MIT won the NEWMAC and qualified for the national tournament, and Wash U in StL was regionally ranked last week. Lots of very good football at excellent engineering schools.

@sherimba03 Congrats on your son’s academic and football success. Here is my quick advice:

  1. Your son’s AI core is about 226 (or higher), which puts him well into the fourth and highest recruiting band. So top Ivy football programs like Yale and Dartmouth will be looking for about 9-10 fourth band recruits on their 30 man roster. Now is the time to focus on his football prowess.
  2. Plan to take your son to some Ivy football recruiting camps in June and/or July this year - and this is key: take AT LEAST 2 days between camps, otherwise he will not perform well. If you are serious and have the means to do so, take a full week, i.e. 9 days and try to fit in 3 Ivy camps over that period. In addition to getting looks from the Ivy coaches, there will be many coaches in attendence from top academic D3’s such as Williams, Amherst, Tufts, MIT, JHU, Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd, and Pomona-Pitzer.
  3. Your son is too small to play on a D1 O-line, even in the Ivies. He would have to focus on offense or defense in the camps anyway, so focus on his defensive position.
  4. If your son is willing to consider LACs, Williams, Amherst and Pomona all have the rarefied stat of > $1 million endowment/student, which puts them ahead of all of the Ivies except HYP . Correspondingly they give excellent FA awards.

At least in the sports that I am familiar with (which do not include football), Harvard makes the least amount of concessions to student-athletes: very little in the way of allowances for practice schedules / away games. or extra tutoring, for example.

Engineering is usually a pretty tough program, and it can be hard enough managing the academics without the demands of being a recruited athlete, so be really clear about balancing academic requirements with team requirements.

And, spend some time with him working out what ‘brand name’ in engineering means.

Two thoughts: 1) consider the Patriot League teams (Lehigh, Bucknell, Lafayette). All give merit aid and also by now (although not historically) I also think athletic aid. They also have established engineering programs. 2) reach out to @Ohiodad51, who knows more than his share about Ivy football recruiting.

Thanks for the many referrals to @Ohiodad51 - we are chatting now and I am learning a lot from his posts.

Carnegie Mellon is definitely on S21’s interest list so thank you @NJWrestlingmom for that information. And S21 is also interested in the Patriot league so thanks for that confirmation @gointhruaphase.

We went to the CMC camp last July on the recommendation of his coaches. I had no idea what a football camp was and actually thought I’d be dropping him off to learn some new skills while I lounged by the hotel pool :blush:. They gave us a tour of the consortium, an info session with the coaches and also one delivered by a few Harvey Mudd administrators. The defensive coach - Odin I think? - spoke with him afterward and said he should send him his SAT scores when he got them, as he thought he’d be very competitive as a senior.

The experience got us both excited about the possibility of college football, and all was good until he got a concussion in the third game of the season. He quickly recovered and was eager to play again, but I put a hard-stop on the college football plans. I allowed him to return to his team after completing the protocol, but I was ambivalent - wanting to protect him, but he loves football, and he is good! After three sacks in one game, he was even interviewed on camera (posted on Twitter) by the OC Register reporter attending the game!

He took the PSAT and said it was easy, and two weeks later took the SAT just ten hours after playing the entire game against a tough opponent. I was worried about his score dropping because he only got about six hours’ sleep, but we are quite pleased with his 1560 and thus his SAT is, as they say, in the bag.

I jumped the gun a bit, made the assumption that he is highly likely to achieve NMSF/F, and spent several hours researching what doors that would open. Regrettably, I have gotten his hopes up more than I should have, and now he is excited about potential full rides at UF, UCF, and with a Foote or Singer scholarship stacked with a Benacquisto, close to a full ride at UMiami. (He is a very pragmatic young man, lol). So I’ve had to backpedal and warn him that as a Californian who is better at math than R/W, he is not, in fact, a shoe-in for NMF. (And kicking myself for moving out of Arizona). So now we are counting the days 'til the Dec. 10 score release. Trying not to worry - nothing we can do to change the outcome at this point.

Through all of this, he came to me last month and told me that his coach thought he was a strong contender for Ivy League football. He used my prior quoting of Dartmouth’s practice ban on blocking and tackling against me! And, I have to admit that, like many people, I am swayed by the cache of an Ivy League education and the doors it would open for my ordinary amazing kid. So my resolve to prohibit college football has definitely been weakened. And that small part of me that reads anecdotes about the super-high AI kids who play decent ball and are recruited to bolster the overall AI and rarely play thinks that maybe, just maybe, this could be a good thing? Of course, he wouldn’t want to be a bench-warmer, but Mom sure wouldn’t mind!

Good luck to you. I think it’s hard when you have an athlete who is also a great student. Finding the right college fit is trickier for these kids who kind of hover between sports levels but have high academic aspirations.

I’ve always been told that for Ivies they want D1 talent and care less about academics compared to D3 nescac where you have to have the academics and the athletic talent can be a notch down. I’d revisit the lac idea with him just so that he doesn’t put all his eggs in the ivy 5% acceptance rate basket!

I don’t think the NPCs are accurate for divorced people. You’d have to add your expected contribution to your ex’s, then subtract any duplicate grants to get the total your family is expected to pay.

I wouldn’t wait to have a talk with your son’s dad about financing college. He knows graduation is around the corner. Colleges won’t care if your ex won’t pay. If that’s the case it’s better to know now so your son can adjust his list.