Two weeks ago, I was standing in front of a prominent high school soccer state association head in a hallway in the sleek, glass-walled Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. We were talking about this and that – how state associations collect their All-America nominations, high school and the development academy, cheesesteaks – and the topic of high school girls recruiting bubbled up to the surface. The hottest of buttons.
The conversation inevitably turned to what he described as an ever escalating arms race for younger signees. His region is one of the country’s lushest hotbeds for college talent, and the feedback he’s gotten from his coaches is that the generally accepted age to begin the college recruiting process has dipped into middle school. With the ECNL and other club outlets providing prime scouting opportunities outside a school environment, college scouts no longer have to stay tethered to the school calendar.
Even now, things are changing rapidly.