USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.
This week, I had the awesome privilege of sitting down with Jake Rogers of the Houston Astros. Jake was selected in the 3rd round of the 2016 MLB draft, and is widely considered one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball. Put it this way, this guy is going to be playing baseball for a really long time! And, fresh off his successful collegiate career at Tulane, Jake has some great insight into what it’s like to be a student-athlete at the highest level. Here is what he had to say.
Q: You could have chosen to become a professional baseball player out of high school. Why did you choose to go to college, instead?
A: It was actually a big decision for me. I was blessed to have some offers to start my professional career early on and I was so thankful for them. But growing up, my family put such a huge emphasis on education and I just knew that school was the most important thing for me, at that time. I was fortunate enough to have some great people looking out for me and giving me advice on what they thought would be best for me. I trusted what they were saying and I firmly believed that going to school was going to make me more mature in every aspect of life, not just baseball. The college experience as a student-athlete is unlike anything else because it really forces you to grow up. Looking back, I know that going to Tulane was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has propelled me to be the ballplayer and the man I am now.
Q: What was the most difficult part of being a student-athlete in college?
A: Life is crazy as a student-athlete at the collegiate level! I mean that in such a good way but it really is unbelievable the amount of things you are trying to balance. The most difficult part for me was trying to manage all of the things I had going on. You have to do your best to keep things in a scheduled pattern. You know, you wake up and get your lift in at 6:00 AM, you go to class from 8:00 AM until noon and then you grab a quick lunch before you head to practice for the rest of the afternoon. Then once practice is over, you have to go get all of your schoolwork done from the day so you are prepared for tomorrow. Truthfully, it can be exhausting at times!
Q: How important is it to take care of your grades in high school?
A: I think most high school kids, me included, never really understand how important their grades are until those grades positively or negatively affect them. Again, I was so blessed to have parents and brothers that were always preaching how important grades were. When I finally realized the importance for myself is when I started getting offers. I started to understand that the better my grades were, the better the overall offer from the school would be. I also realized that for me to even get an offer from a school that I was interested in, I had to achieve a certain score on my ACT. I think high school kids that are looking to get to the next level should understand those realities as early as possible. You can’t undo not caring about your grades.
I think caring about the type of student you are in high school also says a lot to a coach that is recruiting you. The last thing a college coach wants to worry about with any of his players is eligibility. It’s your job to be reliable and do whatever you have to do to make the team successful. That applies to both on the field and in the classroom.
Q: For the high school athlete doubting their abilities, what would your advice be?
A: Stop wasting your time doubting yourself, your future or whether or not you can do what you want to do. Get up and go work harder than you’ve ever worked before. You have to realize that the work you put in will determine the results you get out. I look back on some of my teammates from the past and it still amazes me how true that really is. The guys that have had the most success are the guys that work harder and care more than everyone else. They’re too busy working their tails off to even let doubt creep into their minds. Everyone is capable of having that mindset. It’s just a choice you have to make. Because truly, there is a place for everyone to play.
Q: What’s the best advice you have ever received?
A: My dad used to always tell me to have a short memory. He would always tell me there was no one moment that would be bigger than all of my collective moments combined. That goes for both the good times and the bad times. I can’t explain what that concept has meant for my life and how I handle myself. I feel like my maturity-level has always been pretty advanced because I genuinely believe there will always be a next pitch, a next at-bat or a next opportunity. It keeps me in the middle and keeps me from getting too high or too low. I’m so thankful for my dad teaching me that because it’s something that I can use in baseball and in my everyday life.
Q: What does it take to achieve the kind of success you have had?
A: When it’s all said and done, I know that I will be able to say that I literally gave everything I had to this game. I remember sitting back after the draft and just thinking about what it took to get to that moment. From all the summers I spent away from home to the countless hours of catching bullpens, my life has been non-stop baseball since I can remember. I love this game and I am so thankful of the opportunities it has presented me with. I think I’ve been blessed with some success because of the effort and the passion I’ve put into this game and the support I have received from my parents and brothers. I don’t think there is any other way to explain it!