Numbers Game: On the Realities of DI Men’s Lacrosse Recruiting

NCAA LaxFor many high school lacrosse players, competing collegiately at a Division I program is seen as the end goal of countless Summer tournaments, showcases and in-season games.

For many parents of these players, the ability to tell others that their son (or daughter) plays at a Division I school is a source of great pride, the fruit of the money, time and effort put into getting their child onto this club team or at that showcase.

Now, before continuing, let’s state the obvious: This train of thought certainly is not true of every player or parent out there. Many aspire to attend and play at an academically prestigious DIII institution, or follow a family legacy to a very competitive DII program. Others, still, look forward to competing in the MCLA at a school that offers their desired major or has that “bigger-school” feel complete with DI football.

Having said that, the instances of wanting that DI notoriety – especially for those new to the lacrosse recruiting process – are everywhere. And while not necessarily a bad thing, too often they fall beyond the realm of reality or self-awareness.

Consider these numbers for DI Men’s Lacrosse.


While they are not scientific by any stretch, they do help to paint a portrait of just how tough it is to end up on the roster of a DI team. We’ll use the Class of 2015 (now high school juniors) as an example.
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• As of Tuesday, September 10th, LaxPower.com listed 273 committed members in the Class of 2015. Not surprisingly, all but four of those listed are slated to play for a Division I program (remember, the recruiting timeline is getting earlier and earlier).

• 63 programs fielded teams at the Division I level in 2013. This number will jump to 67 with the additions of Boston University, Furman, Monmouth, and Richmond in 2014 and to 68 with the addition of UMass-Lowell in 2015.

• Depending on the year and the school, the number of recruits per DI institution generally ranges from eight to 10. For argument’s sake – and to make things easier on my non-math mind – let’s say each school takes 10 recruits per year.

• Using these numbers (68 schools, 10 recruits a year per school), that gives us a total of 680 Division I spots for members of the Class of 2015.

• According to the most recent US Lacrosse Participation Survey, there were 166,471 boys high school lacrosse players in the country.

• Let’s divide that number by the four class years to get a general idea of the number of players per grade. This gives us over 41,000 boys lacrosse players per class. Realistically, that number is probably lower, given attrition rates of players as they get older and discover new passions or concentrations. But let’s go with 41,000 – the actual numbers are not really the point here, just that the number is a big one.

• In this exercise, we are left with 41,000 players competing for just 680 spots on Division I rosters. Said another way: Roughly 1 out of every 60 players (41,000/680) can mathematically get one of those spots. And remember per our first bullet point: For the Class of 2015, 273 of those spots are already occupied.
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Now, I am very aware these numbers are loose, and there exist many variables that can change them: Does every school actually take 10 recruits? Are all of those high school players even considering or skilled enough to play in college? Aren’t the Top 20 DI schools filling their slots by sophomore year? The list surely goes on.

However, the point is this: Based on numbers alone, it is very, very difficult to play lacrosse at the Division I level.

As a player, this does not mean you cannot compete with players going DI, nor does it mean you wouldn’t be successful at a DI school. The numbers are not meant to scare you away from wanting to play at the highest level (if that is your goal, by all means, pursue that dream). Instead, they are meant to ensure you are realistic about both the realities that are involved and your abilities.

You will probably know if you are a Division I level prospect. You will receive personalized attention from coaches and be invited to the upper-echelon camps (Jake Reed’s Nike Blue Chip, Maverik Showtime, National Invite 175, Super Sophs, Fab Frosh, etc.). If you are not already committed to a school, September 1st of your junior year will have seen your inbox flooded with personal emails from coaches. Your club and high school coach will be fielding calls on your behalf. Basically: You will feel the love.

As the recruiting timeline continues to accelerate, you will have a better idea earlier and earlier if you are a DI prospect. Keep working at it if that is your goal – but understand the realities of the recruiting space in 2013, fair or otherwise.

Personal Note: I played DIII lacrosse at Wesleyan University in the competitive NESCAC conference. I entered school in 2005, long before the days of club teams and showcase events every weekend. During the process, some bigger DI programs recruited me, and I have no doubt I could have stepped in and competed right away at those schools. For a variety of reasons, however, I chose the DIII experience. My decision had nothing to do with the thought if I was “good enough” to play at the highest level, but came down to a more personal choice based on many factors. I had an unbelievable experience, and am very happy I made the choice I did.

So, to the younger players out there: I urge you not to close your minds to experiences outside of the DI level – be it DII, DIII or club. For many, the DI experience is the best fit – and that is great. But realize that despite what your friends may say, or the pressure you may feel from a variety of external sources, you should consider all of your options and make the best decision for you, realizing that you will most likely be going pro in something other than sports.

Whatever that level may be, be sure the fit is the right one, made after carefully considering all the options at every level.

How LacrosseRecruits.com Can Help

There are a number of ways LacrosseRecruits.com can assist its members. Aside from the quick access to college coaches – every DI, DII and DIII coach is a registered user – our staff can look at a members’ profile, transcripts and highlight reel to help guide the player in the recruiting process. Staffers are former collegiate lacrosse players who can help give a member an idea of the 20-30 schools to focus on.

LacrosseRecruits.com members have had amazing success getting into their target schools. Click here to see a list of some recently committed members.

LacrosseRecruits.com was started by two former Wesleyan lacrosse players and is staffed by former lacrosse players who played at every level – from Virginia to Monmouth to Wesleyan. Members deal with former college players when issues arise – players who have dealt with many of those same issues themselves.

The Fall is a great time to connect with your target list of programs after a crazy Summer. Call 212-414-8417 or email Ryan@LacrosseRecruits.com if you have questions about how to become a member.

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  1. Lacrosse Mom Sep 21st 2013 at 10:36PM #

    This article was great. It’s incredibly hard to get into a D1 program and even more difficult when a player lives on the west coast and most of the great lacrosse schools are on the east coast.

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