Random question about walking on

D22 attended a D3 soccer ID camp about a year ago and was surprised to hear that a bunch of the school’s players there that day to help with the camp, show them around, etc. were walk ons. I don’t know how good or bad this college’s soccer team is but camp participants came from lots of ECNL teams, so it’s probably not too bad.

As noted by pretty much everyone, it all depends. It depends on Division, Sport, Team and Coach.

We spoke to one NESCAC coach who stated that he had open tryouts and the best X number of players made the team (regardless of whether or not the kid was recruited), because he only had X number of uniforms. I heard tell of another D3 program where the number trying out for the team was massive. The recruited athlete asked about it and the coach said, “I do not see you not making the team.” So are these true open tryouts or wink-wink tryouts? Who knows. Most likely, however, a true immediate impact player that tries out in open try outs will make the team.

The Amherst Report on Athletics notes about 20 walk-ons per class, but that most walk-ons discontinue their sport after one year. I am sure that there are many different reasons for this, but the reports cites lack of playing time as a reason.

There were walk-ons for each of the D3 teams that we observed. I know a family whose kid walked-on for LAX at a NESCAC, but I think it was a tough four years with little playing time. Conversely, we knew one kid who was recruited for another sport at a NESCAC who tried out and did quite well.

Coaches have every reason to give the benefit of the doubt to recruits in tryouts. First, think about the discussion with admissions. Hey we helped you get your No. 1 recruit admitted (against all odds) and you go ahead and cut him after tryouts? Second, think about the discussions with club coaches. Hey, we encouraged little Sally to go to your school, and you cut her without even giving her a year to work out playing at college? Maybe we won’t encourage others so much. Then think about the discussions with parents and the athlete getting cut. Hey, we asked you before we committed about your policy for cutting recruits? ■■■? Also, there is the “I found you and convinced you to go to this school” psychology that also bends in favor of the recruited athlete.

Just like everything in college sports, nothing is guaranteed and anything can change.

@gointhruaphase Do you mean the kid who was recruited for one sport played another? Did he drop the sport or play both? Can you do that? Play on more than one team at the same school? I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me.

This kid played two sports. Doable at the D3 level, virtually impossible at the D1 level.

Not impossible. There have been football/baseball players at top D1 programs. The combo for women was volleyball/basketball.
And some rowers go for Nordic skiing!

Not the norm, but not unheard of. Some even got to choose in which to go pro. Clearly, phenomenal athletes.

Football guys, usually receivers, will sometimes double back in track. Devon Allen who played at Oregon is a recent high level example. But yes, that’s more common outside of P5 programs. Pretty common at D3 to see a few football players sprinting or hurdling in the spring.

As far as XC walk-ons, not only are roster sizes pretty flexible but most larger schools have legit running clubs that attend some of the same meets as the varsity team. So there are all sorts of options for distance runners to continue the sport in college even if not recruited.

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This was more common in the 70s and 80s. When UMiami was stripped of a lot of football scholarships, the track team became very popular (but the student athlete really did have to qualify for the track scholarship). Dion Sanders, Bo Jackson, John Elway all had to pick a sport or find two very understanding teams.

My daughter’s coach did raid the soccer team for her new lax team (with permission of the soccer coach). I think there were 5 who started out, one who played both lax and soccer, one who dropped soccer and just stayed with lax, and 3 who went back to soccer pretty quickly. The one who played both was a field player in lax and a goalie in soccer, and I think she just wanted to run! The soccer players had never played lax so they weren’t that good but the coach just needed some warm bodies who could learn the rules fast.

Some coaches do not hold open try outs so if an athlete isn’t recruited, he or she is going to have to be outstanding for the coach to even hear about that student. I doubt there are tryout for the top D3 women’s lax teams (Middlebury, Gettysburg). It would even be unusual for someone from a club team to rise up to the varsity team. And as someone above said, the playing time would be pretty limited if a walk on did make the team. A transfer? More likely.

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My niece was a recruited athlete for soccer at MIT and when she arrived freshman year a couple of years ago she was surprised to realize that the coach had recruited too many athletes. A number have had to be cut each year. This suggests that there are tryout and that it would be difficult for someone to walk on.

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Unfortunately, this does happen, and it seems that MIT is more of a crap shoot than many other schools. This is why it is recommended that you ask the coach before committing. Ask whether the recruit has a roster spot, whether there are tryouts, how many recruits are cut in the first year, how many walk-ons are on the team. This should nail down whether over-recruiting is a recurring theme or whether it was a one time thing, such as the added year of eligibility due to COVID.

I think MIT is somewhat of an outlier for discussions or comparison as from what we have heard here, and a former MIT coach at another school once told me, the MIT coaches do not have much pull with admissions, plus we’re talking about a very top tier university with one of the lowest acceptance rates in the country.
As others have stated, being a walk-on at a D3 varies considerably by the school (how good the team is and how challenging the school is to get admitted to can be factors), the specific sport and of course the particular athlete. Many schools/teams have room for a decent high school player with coaches looking to round out their roster, where as others have little or no room. All good reasons to make sure the school is a good fit even if the student is not playing a sport, and try not to get too caught up with just the recruitment excitement.

Totally agree that MIT in general is not instructive for D3 recruiting. I also understand that an MIT coach may not know how many of his or her recruits ultimately will be admitted. This is a down-side of schools that offer limited coach support and do not provide pre-reads.

However, the coach can still give information to recruits about a roster spot if admitted, or whether the recruit only will be invited for an open tryout. Even if a record number of recruits are admitted in a given year, it is unlikely that open tryouts are a one-year thing. A recruit may be willing to roll the dice for an opportunity at such a world class institution. Still, in my book, it would be information I would want to know before committing. The surprise is what you are trying to avoid.

For years many more than 2 students would report on the laxpower lists that they were ‘committed’ to Middlebury or Tufts or other NESCAC schools, and the other selective Div 3 schools (Gettysburg, U Chicago). These names are sometimes reported by the athlete but often by the schools or by the club teams when the girls are juniors in hs. Ten names or more. And these students did get accepted and did attend.

I think coaches have more more pull with admissions than just 2 spots. It may be an average of 2, but some sports are getting 6 spots plus several soft admits and some none.

Anyway, at those schools that have 10 ‘recruits’ coming in every year, it is really unlikely that there are going to be walk-ons or try outs, especially in sports with a limited roster size. I think any spots will be filled by those recruits and transfers. That’s how schools are competing for national championships every year, by bringing in 8-10 top recruits every year. At other schools that aren’t very competitive in that sport, they’d probably be happy to have a walk on.

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A recruit may be willing to roll the dice for an opportunity at such a world class institution. Still, in my book, it would be information I would want to know before committing. The surprise is what you are trying to avoid.
Agree but I would think most students applying to MIT are not doing it for sports reasons. From a sports perspective, most of the schools MIT plays are good local D3 schools but from a sports perspective just typical D3 schools, not sports powerhouses. IMO, you do not apply to a school like MIT for sports reasons, or at least that is they way I would look at it with my kids.