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.
High school athletes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big, some are fast, some are better students than others, and some have it all. Aside from just athletic ability, the kind of recruit you are will determine whether or not you will have a successful recruiting experience.
Some athletes have to work harder at the recruiting process than others. Many athletes are willing to wait to be “discovered”. And, others believe it’s their coach’s job to find their scholarship. Here are my four categories of college recruits, my comments on how each type typically approaches recruiting and advice on how their recruiting journey will go.
The “Discovery Channel” Recruit
The Discovery Channel Recruit expects that college coaches are going to “discover” them from a newspaper box score or an online profile/resume. Discovery Channel recruits believe the recruiting myth that “If I’m good enough, the college coaches will find me”. Here’s a news flash, unless you’re truly a five-star recruit (discussed later), then waiting for the scholarship offers to start rolling in the door is recruiting disaster waiting to happen.
College coaches have limited recruiting budgets and simply don’t have the time to evaluate every potential recruit in the country. Think about it this way, the Alaskan Bush People on the Discovery Channel weren’t “discovered” by chance. The Discovery Channel went looking for them after learning of their existence. College coaches have to know you exist before they can find you and the best way for that to happen is for you to contact them. Don’t sit on your coach waiting for the phone to ring. It may never happen.
The “Coach’s Pet” Recruit
The “coach’s pet” recruit is the recruit who apparently believes it is his or her coach’s responsibility to find and secure their college scholarship. There’s a reason they are called the coach’s pet. It requires a tremendous amount of time and effort for a coach to undertake such a task for any recruit. If you think you’re a coach’s pet and you’re placing your college scholarship hopes 100 percent on your coach, you better be right!
It’s unrealistic for any high school athlete to expect their coach to run their entire recruiting process. Understand that for your coach to find your college scholarship he or she would have to:
- Identify the colleges that are a fit for you athletically and academically.
- Make sure those colleges are ones you might be interested in.
- Find the contact information for the coaches.
- Proactively contact the coaching staff on your behalf.
- Follow up with each school until a scholarship is offered.
That’s a tall order for any coach. It would be great if your current coach is just willing to help you identify appropriate colleges to pursue. That kills two birds with one stone; you know the colleges on your list are appropriate and you know your coach is comfortable contacting them on your behalf. Then, if your coach is willing to be more involved, you should feel comfortable asking them to proactively reach out to a few of the college coaches at those schools. That is all you should really expect from your coach. Unless you truly are the “coach’s pet”, you better not assume your coach will take care of all your recruiting needs.
The “five-star” No Worries Recruit
If you’re a “five-star” No Worries Recruit then you may have already committed to a college. The five-star recruits are the top 2 percent of high school athletes and are highly recruited starting as early as the eighth grade. If you’re wondering whether or not you’re a five-star recruit, then you’re not. Be honest with yourself. Are you really in the top 2 percent? Let’s break that down. If there are 100 varsity starters in your district, then you are either the best or second-best prospect.
If you are lucky enough to be considered a five-star recruit then your recruiting journey is simple. Your process is reactive rather than proactive. You can literally, sit back and wait for college coaches to contact you. That said, the other 98 percent have to fend for themselves and be proactive instead of reactive. If you’re not a five-star recruit, that’s okay! It doesn’t mean you won’t be in the top 2 percent when you graduate from college.
The “Prototype” Recruit
The “Prototype” recruit is a college coach’s dream. They perform on the field, off the field and in the classroom. They also tend to be proactive, making the recruiting process simple for the college coach.
Obviously, to be a college prospect you must have some athletic ability and it must be displayed on the field. College coaches first take notice of you because of your physical abilities. They want to see that you can compete at their level, without physical limitations. Physical talent is the first criteria a college coach considers when evaluating any recruit.
Once a college coach is sold on your physical abilities, your off the field behavior becomes a factor. There is a huge difference between coaching and babysitting. Coaching is about developing, motivating and getting the most out of kids. Babysitting is about making sure the house doesn’t go up in flames! The last thing a college coach wants to worry about is whether his/her athletes are burning down the house. It is really pretty simple; the “prototype recruit” respects authority-figures, doesn’t misuse social media, stays out of trouble and understands what a privilege it is to be a student-athlete.
Finally, the Prototype recruit knows that being a good student and getting good grades will open more doors than athletics ever will. Conversely, they also understand that not getting it done in classroom is the deadbolt lock on the door of college opportunity. Bottom line, coaches want, expect and need you to be a good student. The “prototype recruit” is the one that cares equally as much about their academic career, as they do their athletic career.
Here’s the deal
Every recruit falls into one of the above categories. You just need to realize which one best describes you, adjust how you approach the college recruiting process and work towards becoming that “Prototype” recruit.