College Roster Makeup
In the previous article, Part 1, we discussed college hockey, why it is a goal, and what makes college hockey different than other NCAA sports. Part 2 will look at the makeup of college rosters.
If you examine college rosters of NCAA teams you will see players with ages ranging 18-25 and their last team is often a Junior Program or Prep School. This is the norm. All college rosters can be found online on college websites or sites dedicated solely to hockey coverage such as USCHO.com.
There are very few “True” freshmen in college hockey. Majority of players will enter at age 20. By the time they graduate, the student-athlete is 24.
This is in stark contrast to majority of college students entering at 17-18 and finishing their degree by age 21 or 22.
College rosters average between 25-30 players on the roster. Colleges can dress 22 players per game. Healthy scratches, or players watching from the stands, are a thing. This means even while making a college roster, a player may not get a ton of playing time.
Roster Turnover happens also. New recruits can be brought in. Players can be cut. Career-ending injuries can occur. Players can struggle with grades. Players can quit and focus on school or future career endeavors.
Why don’t colleges recruit younger players?
There are two big reasons for this. The physical body of a 17-18-year-old student-athlete is often vastly inferior to a student-athlete at 24 years old. Younger players physically will not be able to compete. On top of physical improvements, skill level will improve with added years of development. Since NCAA teams are competitive and winning is paramount, coaches will recruit physically stronger players who potentially possess more skill that give them a better chance to win. Players that are 20 years old playing Junior hockey will get looked at first before a high school senior.
Secondly, the emotional maturity of a 20-21-year-old Freshman is greater than a high school senior. Older student-athletes will have a greater sense of responsibility. They will be able to handle themselves with greater autonomy than a younger student-athlete.
Disclaimer: Very high-end players are 18 or 19 years old upon entering college. This will be seen at Division 1 level, but rarely at the Division 2/3 Level. There are obviously exceptions to every rule, but not often.
You must be wrong, I hear about young players being recruited all of the time? They even Commit!
Young players start get looked at by Division 1 schools as young as 13-14 years old. Division 1 colleges cannot begin to speak to those players until after January 1st of their Sophomore year. Recruits cannot begin to take official visits to campuses until August 1st of their Junior year.
Most players that commit are Verbal Commits. These are non-binding gentlemen’s agreements between player and coaching staff. Player stays committed to improve and does not visit other schools, Coaching staff continues to monitor progress until player can actually sign with the school.
Division 1 players do not sign Letters of Intent, or commitments until their senior year of high school. Some High School seniors playing high level junior or prep hockey will sign at 17 or 18, but others are typically older. Click Here for signing Date examples.
Part 3 will look into scholarship limits, financial aid, and what it all means for college- and hockey-related decisions.