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.
It’s human nature to ask “Why?” For example, I’ve always wondered:
- Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food?
- Why do they call it “rush hour” when the traffic is the slowest?
- Why don’t you ever see the headline “Psychic Wins Lottery”?
Why is it that so many obvious “why” questions don’t have an obvious “here’s why” answer? You would think we would’ve seen at least one psychic win the power ball jackpot by now. I mean come on, if I could see the future, I certainly would be playing the lotto every chance I got!
Well, when it comes to college recruiting, asking “why” and understanding the answers, can be the difference between a college scholarship or continuing your athletic career on the intramural fields. And, rightfully so. Every recruit wondering why they haven’t been discovered yet, deserves to know why. In fact, for every “why” question a recruit might have, I believe he/she deserves an obvious “here’s why” answer. So, from why you haven’t been noticed yet, to why your grades matter so much during the recruiting process, here are some obvious “here’s why” answers that might help you win the recruiting lotto!
Why haven’t college coaches noticed me?
If you’re a junior or senior in high school and college coaches haven’t noticed you yet, there are only a few reasons why:
- You’re not a 5-Star athlete and you aren’t doing anything to move your recruiting needle. It’s a fact, only the top 2 percent of high school athletes are highly recruited. The other 98 percent who want to play at the next level need to do a little work to find that college scholarship. 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’re not a “2 percenter”, that’s okay! It doesn’t mean you won’t be in the top 2 percent when you graduate from college. However, it does mean that you probably need to do a little work to find the right colleges and you most likely will have to initiate the communication with college coaches.
- You think it’s your coach’s job to find your college home. Let’s get one thing straight, it’s not in your coach’s job description to find scholarships for his or her players. Even if it was, why in the world would you leave something so important in the hands of someone else? The recruiting process is your responsibility. High school and select coaches can help, but they may not have the time or even know how to help. Your high school coach can vouch for your character and can give college coaches an honest evaluation of your abilities. The rest is on you. And that’s the way it should be.
- You aren’t being realistic with the colleges you are pursuing. Perhaps the most difficult task in an effective college recruiting game plan is being realistic with who you are as an athlete and as a student. If you spend your time pursuing colleges that aren’t a fit, your recruiting experience is destined for failure. It’s like asking the Homecoming Queen to the Homecoming dance when she’s dating the starting quarterback. The answer is going to be “No” every time. If you don’t know which colleges are realistic for your abilities, ask your coach for some help and hope he or she shoots you straight.
Why are many high school athletes hesitant to contact college coaches?
To be honest, I’m not positive I know the answer to this question. I can only assume that high school athletes don’t want to say or do anything that might hurt their scholarship chances. Perhaps the thought of talking to a big, mean, scary college coach is intimidating. Listen, if college coaches aren’t reaching out to you, you have to contact to them. There really isn’t another good alternative.
Sure, you can post a resume online and hope the right coach magically stumbles across it. Or, you can hope your coach will take the time to find a scholarship for you, but the most efficient path to an athletic scholarship is for you to work the process. There are companies who can be a big help and lay the groundwork, but ultimately you will have to talk with the coach yourself.
Another possibility of why you might be hesitant to contact coaches is that you just don’t have time to identify the right schools, find the contact information for the coaches, draft a personal email to each one, and get your homework finished. I get that too, but send one email per night, enroll your parents to help, or consider the online software packages that simplify the process.
Why does everyone keep telling me to focus on academics when my grades are pretty good?
There are many reasons why your academic “profile” is important when you’re looking for an athletic scholarship, but three stand out to me. First, we’re talking about going to college and to go to college you have to get in. No matter how much the coach wants you on his or her team, you have to get past the admissions office by meeting the academic requirements at any school.
Second, the more colleges you qualify for academically, the more colleges you can pursue athletically. For example, if you’re a Division I caliber basketball player with an ACT score of 17 who wants to go to college in California, you have 11 colleges to consider. If you raise your ACT score to a 22, the number of colleges you qualify for academically almost doubles to 21. To put it simply, good students with good test scores have many more college options.
And finally, your academic profile is the No. 1 tiebreaker between two athletes of similar abilities. If a college coach is considering two athletes for one roster spot, he or she will go with the better student every time.
Why do my parents need to be involved in the recruiting process?
If you’re a college recruit and you’re asking this question, consider what Kansas State Head Football Coach Bill Snyder told us just last week when he said: “Parents play a major role in the development of their child up to the very point of being recruited to play college football. They’ve brought that young man up and have been the prominent element in his life for the first 17 or 18 years of existence. To suddenly divorce themselves from that doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m not encouraging parents to decide for their children, but they should certainly be involved in the process.”
If you don’t trust Coach Snyder, here are some tangible reasons to include your parents.
- Your parents are your biggest fans and can offer some perspective, keep you focused and keep you on track.
- Your parents can fill the role of your administrative assistant. That’s right, they can work for you. Proofreading emails, developing a recruiting timeline and gathering coach contact information are all tasks that take time and most parents will be happy to do.
- Your parents are the ones who know the college budget. Athletic scholarships in most sports are partial scholarships ranging from 25 percent to 60 percent. You have to know the family college budget to target the right colleges.
Here’s the deal
Every college recruit is going to ask “Why?” many times as they go through the recruiting process. Finding the right answers is the key to a successful recruiting journey.