Football players in high school play for several reasons; to stay in shape, love sports, girls, wear a nice uniform, and recognition. However, most high school football players would tell you they’re trying to make it to the next level (College). The false mindset that many high school players have is that any of them can make it to the next level just because they played on a high school team. What players don’t understand is that there are so many factors that come into play when making the transition to the collegiate level.
Starting with the most apparent reason, the talent has to be there. College programs are not just going to accept any player regardless of the division. Even Division III and NAIA programs are booming with talent that cannot be overlooked. Yet, even the most talented players are in for a wake-up call. High school is in no way “easy,” but things are a lot more uncomplicated. When a player knows they have the talent to succeed, the game comes a lot smoother. They simply go out and play because the competition is not as rugged, and they have an acceptance in their head that they’re already going to the next level. Many of these players will come to understand that the college football world is roaring with talent. Most recruits will find the transition much more complex than they anticipated, especially because of size and experience.
INCREASE IN WORKOUT INTENSITY
No matter how much weights and conditioning you do in high school, college trainers are going to work the dog out of you. No matter how big you are as a freshman, you’re not going to match the training level of the senior opponent destined to make it to the league. You have to be mentally and physically prepared for the workout programs you’re about to endure when you enter that college campus. Your typical day is going to flow much differently than when you were in high school. Many programs start their day as early as 5 am with a gruesome workout. Then comes the film, practice, meetings, etc., all while having a full course load of schoolwork.
Academics is one of the most important contributors to a college athlete's success, but many fail to comprehend that. If your grades don’t reach a specific requirement, you don’t play. Simple as that. Programs will even go as far as cutting you from the team or pulling your scholarship if your GPA hits a certain low. This can become one of the biggest challenges for an athlete because, in their mind, they came to this college to play football. The coursework can be much more rigorous than high school, especially for more advanced majors. A significant skill to learn in college is time management. Completing assignments and managing study habits can be much more difficult when paired with a draining day of football.
MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH
Decreased time management can lead to poor mental and physical health. Luckily, universities offer numerous food options, but the busy day of a student-athlete can lead to them eating cheap, quick meals in their free time. It is MANDATORY players keep their bodies in prime shape in preparation for games. The extensive training and conditioning do not match well with a poor diet and reduced sleep. The heavy load can be mentally draining for players, so it is vital to first take care of themselves.
As a high schooler, you’ve watched film, gone over playbooks, and studied your opponent (maybe). In college, these once simple tasks can ultimately dictate if you see the field or not. The time spent studying filmed is doubled, so your mind always has to be sharp. Film sessions alone can feel as if you’re taking an additional class with your already busy schedule. The coaching styles and playbooks in college are also much more advanced, so if you don’t know your team's game plan, you’ll get pulled immediately. Especially if you’re playing at a higher level, the last thing you want is to not look like you know what you’re doing on national TV.