There is a myriad of sports scholarship terms used to describe the courtship of a college recruit to play college sports. Although the terms used to describe playing collegiate level sports are often used interchangeably, they actually have distinct meanings.
A contact is when a coach or administrator reaches out officially to meet with a prospective student-athlete in an off-campus meeting.
When the coach or recruiter observes the athlete in competition or in a practice situation, it is called an evaluation.
A verbal commitment is when the student-athlete informs the coaching staff of a school that they intend to play college sports with them. This commitment is not binding, as it precedes the official National Letter of Intent. A verbal commitment often happens before the student-athlete is eligible to sign the official letter and it signifies that they want a sports scholarship offer from that college.
Playing collegiate level sports is an immense commitment. When the college recruit wants to make their commitment to a Division I or II school official and binding, they sign the National Letter of Intent. This contract is good for one academic year.