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.
According to a recent survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations, roughly 1.1 million kids played high school football during the 2015-2016 school year. During that same time period, 73,660 football players were competing collegiately across every level of the NCAA (Division I, II and II). And, approximately 2.6 percent of those players represented an NCAA Division I program. So what am I telling you, the high school football player looking to go D-1? I’m telling you there’s a chance!
When asked what it takes to notice a recruit, here’s what some of the best Division I football coaches in the country had to say.
Jeff Scott, Clemson
Because of everything that Clemson has to offer, we can recruit at a very high level. We are looking for elite players. For a guy to get our attention, he really needs to be dominating at the high school level. It should be obvious. When we turn on that game film, my wife should be able to pick out who we are watching! If we can’t tell who we are watching after a few minutes, we’re probably watching the wrong video.
Additionally, our coaches know what they are looking for and what we, as a team, are needing. That can change from year-to-year, so that also plays a factor into who we are recruiting. If we’re losing two 6’4” receivers and we don’t have any more guys on the roster that are over 6’3”, than we may only be looking for 6’3”+ receivers during that recruiting cycle. Much of the attention a recruit will receive from us is based on what we are looking for out of that particular recruiting class.
I will also say that we don’t go very far with any recruit before we get a transcript to see where they stand academically. The academic transcript tells us a lot about them as a person. We believe that grades are indicative of character and a commitment to be great. We are not just trying to find the best players we can find. We want the kids that are elite, high achievers on and off the field.
Tim Murphy, Harvard
The first thing that we pay attention to are academics. How are his grades and what type of a student is he? We could be dealing with the greatest athlete in the world, but if he isn’t a strong academic kid, then we’re just spinning our wheels and wasting our time. At Harvard, the first box we have to check is great student. If we can’t check that box, we aren’t recruiting you.
Beyond academics, we need that physicality that I spoke about earlier and we need to know that the kid we are dealing with has the characteristics it takes to be great. We look for guys that possess similar characteristics to our very best players, the ones that have won championships for us or gone on to play in the NFL. We look for the extremely driven and the extraordinarily resilient kids. Those are the guys that make us Harvard.
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Obviously, it takes a tremendous amount of talent to play football at this level. For us to take notice of a guy, he’s got to be one of the best players on that high school field. Beyond that, we look for the guys that are unselfish and cerebral. Show us that your teammates and coaches matter to you by the way you play the game. Display a high football IQ and an ability to succeed in high pressure situations. Those are the kind of things that will grab our attention when we’re out recruiting.
As a program, we will never compromise our Cowboy Culture for talent. We will, and we have, passed on recruits that had the talent to play here but didn’t realize it’s so much more than that. Any young man we recruit needs to understand the importance of education and respect. When we go into the home of a recruit, we watch how he handles his mother. Is he treating her with love and respect? If he’s not, that’s a major problem. It tells us that he’s probably not showing other authority figures in his life respect, either. You have no chance of being successful within the Oklahoma State football program if you don’t understand respect. It’s that important.
Troy Calhoun, Air Force
We want the guys that go to work every day. They’re the dependable and reliable guys. Every time they show up, you know what you’re going to get. We want the team captains and the guys that are just obsessive and passionate about sports, specifically the sport of football. We want leaders on the field and in the classroom. When we look at their transcripts, we don’t see a bunch of tardies and absences. Details matter to them. They have to be every day guys in all phases of life. That’s what it takes to not only play football at the Air Force Academy, but to also serve this great country.