SEEKin’ da TRUTH in College Recruiting
Truth #6: You, the recruit, own 100% of the responsibility to earn a college scholarship.
Myth #1: Recruits should have other people contact college coaches on their behalf. This is probably the most dangerous myth of them all. Giving over power to someone else is potentially a big problem. Many high school athletes (and their parents) are willing to let their coach (summer or high school) play a large role in the recruiting process … you might be told by your coach that they can, or will, use their connections and get you a scholarship. While some coaches can be very influential in the recruiting process, you should never give them ownership in the process. Why? It’s not their future. It’s your future. Your coach can play a major role in helping you; however, you need to own 100% of the responsibility. This holds true for an agent/advisor also.
Most elite recruiters will only use the information from your coach as a lead generation tool … player recommendation and list builder. You will be added to the recruiters’ list of “players to follow.” (I know in basketball summer AAU coaches are very heavily involved) However, regardless of sport, your coach can help you tremendously and is a very important part of the process. Their reputation as a player evaluator is important.
Simply ask them to call on your behalf but understand it might end there. You own the responsibility to find the “best-fit” program that aligns with your future. College coaches want to hear directly from you … not your parents, not your coaches … you. They want to know that you are serious about taking charge of your future.
Truth #5: The great D1 programs will always value a late bloomer.
Myth #2: If I am not recruited by the end of my sophomore year, a D1 program won’t recruit me. This myth derives from a fearful mindset. The recruiting process has become an expedited process built around physical maturity. Don’t fall victim to the speed of the process. Most athletes, in their freshman and sophomore years, have yet to develop physically, mentally and emotionally. And the emphasis is on MOST. When I recruited the nations #1 class, I did so without over-recruiting scholarship aid. I stayed ethical in my offers and words. With the leftover scholarship money, I used it to offer a junior college recruit based on a recommendation from MLB assistant scouting director. I signed him 15 days before the first day of school. That recruit is still currently playing professional baseball. There are some great coaches, currently in the game, that do the same. They work extremely hard to manage the offers and scholarship allocations. They also keep a slot or two open for late bloomers or potential draft losses. When I was a Head Coach in the Big Ten conference, a rule existed that coaches could not “over-sign” and offer away a current college player’s aid until he was either a senior or exhausted his eligibility by signing a professional scholarship. You couldn’t spend a player’s scholarship based on projections. This proves there are opportunities out there that can and will arise for late bloomers. Also, always remember, D1 is not the only option. There are great experiences, with great coaches, at the JUCO, NAIA, D2, and DIII level. Going to a D1 program out of high school might not be the best path for you.
Truth #4: The great programs are looking for the complete player.
Myth #3: If I have a unique talent(s), I’m fine … the offers will come. This is a myth that exposes some players. They fall into the trap of specialization. For example, they think just because they run fast, or throw hard, or hit the ball with power, they will be offered. Being elite with a specialized talent is great, but it’s not enough. It might get you some offers, but it won’t last at the college level. Your singular talent will be exposed. The most effective recruiting coordinators (RC), are always in search for the three dimensional player. This is a term I created from all my days on the road recruiting. Click here to learn more about the 3D player. Coaches want players who are excellent ball players with great skill. It’s a prerequisite. But the good coaches are looking beyond physical talent. They want the mentally tough player who shows emotional intelligence. They want the player who can lead others. They want the great teammate. They want the complete player with champion habits! (click here to learn the 4 habits of champion performers)
BTW … grades and social media matter a great deal. Some programs just need you to be NCAA eligible (clearinghouse registered). When I recruited at LSU, if I could get a player to meet the NCAA eligibility limitations, then I could get him into school. When I was at MSU, our recruits needed at least a 3.0 GPA and average test scores. We had a few exemptions, but they need to be approved by the athletic director and the office of admissions. When I coached at Notre Dame, the standards were way higher. The recruit needed to be in the top 10% of his graduating class and pretty legit test scores. And when I was at the University of Chicago (DIII school … known as the Harvard of the Midwest) the standards were off the chart. Our recruits needed to be amongst the nation’s highest academic achievers. When it comes to social media, coaches notice. Keep the account private or follow the golden social rule … what you say in 140 characters is like a super bowl commercial to college coaches … their eyes will see it. (Note: invest in Snapchat)
The golden social rule for athletes … what you say in 140 characters is like a super bowl commercial to college coaches … their eyes will see it.
Truth #3: You need to be seen by the college coach (recruiting coordinator) who makes the scholarship offer.
Myth #4: Because I have a full package of skills, the programs will come find me. This myth is closely tied to the point above. College coaches are pulled in many different directions. Their day job has many components to it. Recruiting is a 24/7/365 job … with a specific calendar of rules. Add this up, and it’s impossible for a college coach to be everywhere at the same time. I do believe that, in this day and age, very few rocks are unturned, and there are virtually no hidden players. The top 250 players in the country will be know by all, and recruited by all. In most cases, they will be able to choose where the go to school. Most of these players have agents/advisors, and will need to choose between attending college and signing a professional contract. For the other 10,000 high school players with the talent to play collegiately, it’s important to make sure you are seen by the decision maker … the coach who offers the scholarship … who makes a decision on how much aid will be extending to the slot you are fighting to get. Some programs have multiple coaches who make the offer. Other programs have only one coach who does it. When I was the head coach in the Big Ten, it was a collaborative effort by our staff. I had both a high school RC and a junior college RC. And between the three of us, we built the program, and even recruited the Big Ten’s #1 ranked class, according to Baseball America. This class had the future Big Ten player-of-the-year, the Big Ten pitcher-of-the-year, and the schools all-time hits leader. When I was the RC at LSU, as the Associate Head Coach, I made all of the decisions. This setup is typical of many high profile programs with older head coaches, who don’t hit-the-road and watch recruits play. For example, at Texas, head coach Augie Garrido never recruits and doesn’t even know the scholarship amounts offered to the recruits in his program. This is not a rumor or something I know from his associate coaches or assistants … I read it in his book. He told it to the world.
Very similar to how the real world works … if you are selling a computer product to a corporation, you won’t waste time visiting with the marketing department. You will call on the IT department.
It’s critical to be seen by the decision maker. Do your research! Know who are the decision makers (which coach needs to see you play) in the program.
Truth #2: The recent history of the players in the program tells the full truth.
Myth #5: You should trust what the coaches say about their program. This is a harsh myth but a very true one. I’m not calling out coaches and saying they are all liars. Most are not. But the coaches who want to uphold a pristine image, yet, behind the scenes they don’t act with integrity, are the ones who have a hard time looking in the mirror. Also, as the sport of college baseball is following the path of college football and college basketball, the sport is turning into more of a business, even though 95% of the programs operate in the red. I just happened to coach at one of the 10 that operated in the black and produced over $6M in revenue per year. This change is causing programs (and coaches) to change core-operating values. Development is being replace by the desires to win at all costs. And the players then become a commodity.
The recent past history in roster management tells the full truth. Evaluate the rosters of the last five years. How many players are recruited, signed, and brought into the program. How many transfer after one semester, one year, two years? What is the turnover rate? If you have the luxury, because you have the talent to choose a program, you can even go as far as to evaluate the gameday lineups.
The most effective way to learn about a program is to get the “insider-information” from the players in the program. How are they treated by the school, the fans, the administration, the coaches, the training staff, and the weightlifting staff, etc.? Are the best players on the team treated the same as the bench warmers? These are all factors that will contribute to your overall experience in the program.
As far as playing time … As both the RC at LSU and as the head coach at MSU, I commonly told players that playing time was never guaranteed. And then I would follow that up with the Dean Smith / UNC / Michael Jordan recruiting story, where MJ’s mom made the comment, “If a coach promises you playing time, what do you think they are promising to other recruits. Only five can play at a time.”
Truth #1: The moment of truth, during the recruiting process, is highlighted by receiving a scholarship offer / roster spot.
Myth #6: You are being recruited by a program because they are sending you emails, letters, invites to camps, invites to unofficial visits, etc. This is a very important myth to debunk. Very few program operate like Duke basketball, where they can only recruit 10 players to land 4.
Most programs will mass recruit … send emails and letters to hundreds, and sometimes a few thousand, recruits. Girlfriends will also get letters sent to them. Football programs will have “junior days” for unofficial visits with over 100 kids. This is all just part of the “recruiting game.”
The moment of truth is when a coach offers you a roster spot or scholarship. That’s when you know it’s real.
You might ask, “What about if a coach is personally calling me?” It still doesn’t mean it’s real. Part of calling recruits is to gather information. Some weeks, I would call over 200 kids to “gather” information. I was seeking anything from details of upcoming playing schedule to updated academic information. It was all part of the process to accurately gauge interest and fit. I even made home visits with players with whom I didn’t offer a scholarship.
The recruiting process is a two-way street. Coaches are evaluating everything from skill level to parental involvement.
If you receive an offer based on skill level alone, be cautious … the program might have a negative culture, as core values are not a priority.
So, remember, just because you receive letters, or emails, or camp invites, it doesn’t mean that the program is recruiting you. Don’t throw all your eggs into a basket that does NOT have a roster slot or scholarship offer in it.
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