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 Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting experts provide a recruiting experience that is backed by a money-back guarantee.
When you have a toothache, you don’t call a plumber. And when your car breaks down, you don’t email your CPA. So, why do so many people ask for recruiting advice from their friends, relatives and teammates? Listen, Uncle Eddie who played at XYZ University in 1975 probably isn’t familiar with how college recruiting works today. You need to ask someone who knows the answers and the best way to do that is to go directly to the source. In a perfect world, you would ask college coaches how to approach recruiting, but if you can’t pull that off you can at least do some research online about how they suggest you navigate the process.
In an effort to help, here’s some advice on specific recruiting issues from 5 current college coaches and my take on how to apply their comments. The quotes are from our interviews with college coaches over the last few years.
Augustana baseball coach, Tim Huber, on emails from recruits
“I’ll say this about sending an email: most college coaches know when they are getting a bulk email and most coaches that get that bulk email are just going to hit delete, including me. The same goes for when I see an email come through from a recruiting service, I just hit delete. I want to know that you made a conscious decision to communicate your interest in our program. I’m not interested in dealing with players that are just going to settle for whatever comes their way.”
College coaches want good athletes who will represent their program in a positive way and who truly want to play for their school. For that reason, you have to take the time to personalize your emails. That’s how your email will stand out from the other 200 emails the coach received that day. I’m not telling you to write a novel and it doesn’t need to be a literary masterpiece, but you should show real, sincere interest in every school you contact.
Clemson assistant football coach, Jeff Scott, on Social Media
“At Clemson, we have an entire office whose sole duty is to go through the social media of our prospects. It’s extremely important for us to understand who we are dealing with. That office will look through the content and report on what they find.
Every year, we will eliminate prospects on our board because of questionable content. We’ve eliminated guys for inappropriate language, images, retweets or anything that we see as a red flag. Conversely, guys have moved up on our board because of the positive things we are able to learn through the various social media channels. It serves as a tremendous resource for us.”
If a college coach is truly interested in you, he will look at your social media accounts. In fact, his or her first impression of you may happen when they review your social media and that will most likely happen well before you ever have a conversation. Don’t let your social media accounts be the reason a college coach isn’t interested in you as a recruit. Think before you post and then think again. Don’t post, tweet or share anything you wouldn’t want a college coach to see!
Texas A&M men’s basketball coach, Billy Kennedy, on your coach’s opinion
“For our program specifically, I would advise a young man to have his high school coach or AAU coach reach out to our staff, on his behalf. If that recruit truly has the ability to play at this level, it is going to take a personal conversation with his coach for us to even consider taking the next step.”
We’ve said it many times…your current coach can be a difference maker in your college recruiting journey. Your coach is the most credible source to vouch for your abilities, your work ethic and your character. If a college coach sat down with your current coach to discuss you as a potential recruit, what would they have to say about you? Good things? Would your coach sing your praises and love the opportunity to “sell” you to a college program? Would they tell college coaches that you are a good teammate, a leader and someone that puts the team first? I hope the answer to these questions is a “yes!”
Arizona softball coach, Mike Candrea, on being realistic
“More often than not, high school athletes can honestly provide an accurate assessment of their own abilities. If these student-athletes could follow their gut on which schools they should pursue and attend, the recruiting process would be a total success for so many more of them. Unfortunately, outside distractions or parents make the college recruiting process about ego or pride. I would tell these student-athletes to be honest with themselves and take ego out of the equation.”
If you can’t be realistic about your abilities and the kinds of schools you should pursue, then your college recruiting process is going to be frustrating and ultimately disappointing. As Coach Candrea pointed out, you probably already know where you have the best chance to play. If you aren’t sure, ask your current coach for an honest assessment of how you “stack up” with other athletes and what level schools you should be focused on. Then, be willing to accept that evaluation. If you do that, then your recruiting journey will be a success.
North Carolina Soccer Coach, Chris Ducar, on parent’s involvement in college recruiting
“Unfortunately, most parents just aren’t able to objectively evaluate their own children. And for that reason, college coaches aren’t interested in hearing your opinions concerning your daughter’s soccer abilities. That’s not to say we don’t want to establish great relationships with the parents of our recruits and players. We want to answer questions. We want to have an open line of communication with you and we want you to be a part of our family. All we ask is that you support your daughter and trust that our coaching staff is doing the best thing for not only your daughter, but for the entire team.
Quite frankly, I feel badly for any kid that has to go through the recruiting process with an outwardly opinionated, overbearing parent. It’s as if the parent is so consumed with their own agenda, only to forget that this about their child’s future. That’s just a shame.”
If you’re the parent of a high school athlete and you thought “Uh-oh” (even for just a second) when you read Coach Ducar’s quote, then you probably are too involved in your athlete’s recruiting journey. That said, there is no reason to stress about it. Just be aware of it and move to a support role rather than a lead role. Bottom line: College coaches don’t want to deal with parents who feel they should play the leading role in their athlete’s recruiting process. It’s a red flag to stay away from that recruit.
Here’s the deal
If you want to know how college recruiting really works, do some research on your own. Read interviews with college coaches. Only listen to advice from people who really know the answers. Uncle Eddie’s opinion probably doesn’t matter.