Recruiting is the most important part of the entire season as far as building a program is concerned, and thus this page may be the most important one to learn and understand. This help page is broken into two parts - recruiting strategy and how to recruit.
The most significance between dynasties in college and professional sports is that college players can only play four seasons for their team, and thus the team at the start and end of a dynasty will be completely different. Thus if you hope to have a long period of success, you must balance the recruitment and development of young players with the best use of your veteran players. A consistent recruiting strategy will help in this. You should target to bring in the same number of players each season, thus keeping the young/old balance the same.
In addition to keeping a constant turnover rate, you should also plan ahead for expected vacancies. This means not only planning to have someone in place to fill in for graduations, but having backup plans in case a star decides to leave early for the pros. A very strict recruiting plan will be necessary to accomplish this.
Player Development and Scouting
Now that you know a little about what types of players you want on your team, a word about how to find players that will be successful in the future, and equally importantly, what expectations you should place on your youngsters. As in real-life, it is impossible to be certain how good a certain incoming player will be his senior year. In training camp, "rookie" abilities are randomized to reflect the uncertainty in the scouting process. Thus a player who looked like a sure-fire future superstar may become only a future starter; alternately he may become even better. There is no way of knowing which players will overachieve and which will underachieve in college, compared to their high school play.
All players are expected to improve with age. However, player development isn't this simple. Some players develop faster than others; this can't be predicted. Every season, abilities are randomized slightly (although not by much), which may help a player who was slightly worse than another to be slightly better later on. Also, all players have a chance of breaking out one year; something seen by a significant increase in abilities during training camps. Lastly, a major injury may decrease a player's ability.
This all sounds rather vague for a reason - there is no formula to predict what a player's abilities will be 3-4 seasons from now. There are a couple rules of thumb. First, a younger player has greater potential for improvement (and a longer time to stay in college). This includes comparing a true freshman with a redshirt freshman; the true fresman can be redshirted and thus will be more effective when he is used. Second, the better freshman will probably be the better senior.
Recruiting in DEL
When the season is initialized, a pool of recruits is generated that is divided into five regions (roughly corresponding to the west coast, southern plains, northern plains, northeast, and south) and a group of players listed as having no region. Players in the five regions have an affinity for schools within their region, while players with no regional preference are neutral. It is more effective to recruit players in your region than in other regions, although the top schools can sometimes sway players from other regions.
The "unit of currency" is the recruiting point, which stands for a combination of the school's prestige and available attention from the coaching staff. At the start of the season, all teams are given some amount of recruiting points, which depends on their rankings in the last few years, whether or not they are on probation, and what level conference they are in.
Recruiting is broken into 3 rounds, with each round broken between inviting (when you invite players to visit) and recruiting (when you actually get players to sign).
For each round of inviting, each school may invite between zero and 25 (basketball), 50 (baseball and hockey), or 90 (football) players. This is done with the "Invite Players" button in your team control menu. A player in your school's region can be invited for free; any other player costs one point to invite. You may also spend an additional recruiting point on a player to increase the odds of him visiting your school (for a total of two points spent on an out-of-region player). Usually, only star players get the extra points spent on them since most schools try to conserve points. Note that recruiting points used in inviting are all spent; there is no refund if a player decides against visiting your school.
Along with the extra point, you can promise a player a scholarship when sending out the invitation. This will give your invitation priority over any he receives without such a promise; however you will be locked into offering him a scholarship.
Finally, you can promise significant playing time starting this season or next season (and lasting until the player graduates); such a promise will sway some recruits (especially those listed with "S" in the scholarship column) to your school but will not have complete priority over invitations without such a promise in the same manner as scholarship offers. Playing time next season can only be promised by Tier I teams. Note that if you make such a promise but fail to fulfill it, you and your team will be hurt. Note also that a player may completely disregard your invitation if he feels that you have no intention of keeping that promise. See the playing time page for further details.
When the inviting is run, each player will decide to visit up to five schools, with the selection influenced by the teams' performances the last few seasons, use of extra recruiting points, and regional preferences. The recruiting list will show the schools under consideration after the player's abilities, along with an estimate of how much he is leaning toward each (1=not much; 5=a lot).
Invitations can be sent to any player, although teams are more successful recruiting in their own region and with players without regional preferences.
Recruiting is the second phase of this, and is the actual signing of players to schools. Each school may send in orders for how many recruiting points they want to use to get players to come to their school. Note that you may only attempt to recruit a player that is already considering your school; if you want a player that isn't considering your school, you must (a) hope he doesn't get signed by someone else and (b) invite him the next chance you get.
Recruiting is run in auction-style, meaning that each player is signed in turn. The overall order depends on the players' skill levels (as determined by the computer) and the number of recruiting points that teams are willing to use to sign them. Your recruting instructions are sent with the "Recruiting Orders" button in your team control menu. If, when a player comes up in recruiting, you are still trying to recruit players in that particular player group, you will enter a bid of the set number of recruiting points for him. If he comes to your school, you lose them all. A player's decision depends on many factors, including scholarship offers, the number of points you spent, the player's region preferences, playing time promises, and any leaning the player has toward a school.
Players may be divided into groups in the recruiting command. This allows you to divide your potential recruits, generally into positions, and try to sign a certain number of each. A basketball coach may want a center, a forward, and two guards during recruiting, and would thus make one group with the prospective centers (max 1 signing), one with forwards (max 1 signing), and one with guards (max 2 signings). Note that the players need not be mutually exclusive; in the above example it is quite likely that some of the taller prospective forwards would also be considered at center.
When you make out your orders for recruiting, you must keep in mind that the order in which players are signed may not be the order of priority that you would like them. In other words, if you are considering signing three point guards, A, B, and C with decreasing skill level, it may be that player C comes up first. The choice of whether or not to pursue such a player can be made by setting the priorities in the recruiting orders - you have the option of attempting to sign player C if he comes up before A and B or not attempting to sign him. Setting players A and B with priorities 2 or more greater than that of C will cause C to be skipped while signings of A and B are pending.