Thinking big isn’t always best

Published 3:44 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday marked the beginning of the National Letter of Intent early signing period for athletes pursuing college in most sports, except football, soccer, track and cross country.

But even though those sports can’t sign until Feb. 4, recruiting season is in full swing.

One of the most common dreams of a high school athlete is playing college ball with the hope of making it big in the pros. Many think the best way to get there is through the top state college or one of the top neighboring Division I schools.

For many that will be true. However, it’s never wise to count out the little guys.

Playing college ball at an NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA institution does not mean that pro scouts won’t look at you. Sometimes college recruiters will tell you that going to a smaller school will mean you get little exposure.

It’s not the size of the school or the athletic conference that measures success, but the ability of the player and of the team.

There are plenty of stories out there about players who have gone on to play baseball in the minors or basketball or soccer in Europe.

You may think that’s the difference. If they’d gone D-I, then they’d be in the NBA, right? Wrong.

There are plenty of stories out there of small college players who have made it big.

Scottie Pippen’s alma mater didn’t move to a Division I status until 2005. It was an NAIA school when he caught the eyes of NBA scouts.

If you’re a student-athlete, or parent, trying to make a decision this week or in the spring about where to play, here are some things to keep in mind.

Look for a winning program, no matter what level. Look for a place you can play so you can enjoy your experience more than being a signal caller. But most of all, follow the best academic degree. Unless you make it big on a million-dollar contract, you’ll need the degree.

Outside the lines is a weekly opinion column.