Last week, I reached out to a new agent who had expressed interest in our service. It’s a big time to reach new contract advisors, and we do a lot of work walking them through the process this time of year.
At any rate, he expressed reluctance to join ITL. A combine trainer himself, he had gotten his wife certified so he could cut out the middle man and sign, then train, his own prospects. He explained that several of his recent trainees had gotten camp invites despite coming out of DII schools.
It’s true that small-school players make it to the league sometimes, especially from FCS schools, but sometimes even at the DII and DIII levels. Still, though small-schoolers get lots of ink and make for excellent stories, they tend to make it in far fewer numbers and have far shorter careers than their FBS counterparts.
To illustrate the scarcity of small-schoolers in the most recent NFL draft class, I took at look at the opening-week rosters. Including practice squad players, I counted 461 rookies in the league. Of that 461, eight had formerly played at Division I-A programs, so if not for grades or off-field matters, they’d still have big-school pedigrees.
Looked at another way, of that 461, only 65 (just 14 percent) did not come from Division I-A programs (i.e., FBS). Of that 65, 43 (two-thirds) came from FCS schools (formerly known as Division I-AA). Just 16 came from Division II schools.
I had lunch with a scout who lives near me about a year ago, and when I asked him how they made sure they didn’t miss any small-school phenoms, he just shrugged his shoulders. He said that the FBS schools do the job of sifting out the truly impact players from everyone else for NFL teams, and most take their chances that they’ll trip across any small-school players that matter in the course of their work.
Bottom line, I hope this young agent can keep his momentum going and find the small-school players that will stick, but it’s not going to be easy if this year’s draft class is any indication. And I think it is.