The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
The old saying “Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole” is pretty solid advice for all high school student-athletes. If I translate that to the college recruiting process, it would be something like: “Make sure the colleges you pursue are the right fit for you.”
For a senior in high school the process of selecting the right college can be complicated and time consuming. If you throw trying to play a collegiate sport into the equation, it can make the process seem insurmountable. Most high school athletes don’t have a lot of free time, so narrowing down the number of options to consider can be extremely helpful. Start with an honest assessment of whether a particular college is a realistic option. This will simplify the process, but is often overlooked. That assessment can be quick and only takes answering two questions:
- Is there room for me?
- Am I really interested in this program?
Is there room for me?
Before targeting a school, a quick review the current roster to be certain there’s a spot available can be very helpful. Nearly every college program in the country has the current team roster on the school website and most can be sorted by graduating class and/or position. A quick look at the roster should tell you if there is room for a player like you.
For example, if you’re a punter and a college you are considering has 3 punters, none of which are graduating, you might want to kick that school aside. Many times you can also look on a college website for a list of recruits who have signed recently. If a school has already signed a punter, move on to the next possibility.
Am I really interested in this program?
You’re the only one that can answer this question, but here are some questions to consider:
- Would I pick this school if I wasn’t an athlete?
- Does the school offer my major?
- Does the school fit our family budget if I don’t get a full-ride?
- Do I like the coach?
- Does his/her coaching style match my playing style?
- When do I realistically have a chance to play or contribute to the team?
- Do they have good team chemistry?
- What does the competition of the playing schedule look like?
- How are athletes treated on campus by other students and professors?
- If applicable, will this program prepare me for a professional career in my sport?
Take away the scholarship offer and dollar amount. Forget that the coach recruiting you is really, really nice. Pretend that you don’t know that your parents want you to play for this school. Is this a program you would want to play for if none of those things were a part of the equation?
If you can’t genuinely answer yes to this question, this school is probably not a good fit for you.