With verbal commitments in many sports and in particular lacrosse taking place in the late sophomore and early junior High School years, the emphasis on freshman year grades as an indicator of future academic potential is increasing. The dark side of early commitments is that your ninth grade performance is taking much larger focus.

ESPN Rise asked two college coaches whether freshman grades are critical in the assessment process.

Lelan Rogers, Syracuse Recruiting Coordinator
“Typically high school kids don’t do well as freshman – it’s their trial year and they’re trying to wet their feet. But when you’re doing all this early recruiting you only have their freshman and sophomore year to go off of. I think you’re going to see a lot more kids make commitments verbally and then not get in [due to grades]."

Charles Toomey, Loyola
“It’s important that they listen to their coaches. Get some exposure to these different schools earlier than your sophomore or junior year. We’re looking at PSAT’s. Those are becoming important years and important tests because it gives us an indication of where they’re going to be when they’re making their commitment [as juniors].

“The most important thing they can do is reach out to the coaches. A lot of times they’ll go online or talk to the admissions office. Maybe they get an overview of what the freshman class looks like based on applicants. We can always receive a phone call from a recruit and maybe we can spend a half-hour with them. Coaches will always take time to talk to an athlete about the admissions process.”