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College coaches have the difficult task of evaluating a potential recruit’s abilities and then projecting how successfully a 16 or 17-year-old athlete will adapt to college life. While each coach has his or her own way of evaluating athletes, you can be that certain that a recruit’s actions and behavior in high school will be considered by every coach.
College roster spots are precious, and scholarships are an investment in an athlete. For that reason, most college coaches watch for specific characteristics when they are watching a high school athlete compete. They will also check every recruit’s academic record and might ask an athlete’s current coach about attitude, work-ethic and motivation. The point is, they do their homework on every athlete they are serious about recruiting.
College coaches are constantly looking for that “ideal recruit”. Here are how 3 current college coaches responded when we asked them to describe the “ideal recruit”.
Augustana basketball coach Tim Billeter
“A recruit’s GPA means a lot to our staff. We have seen a lot of kids with not-so-great test scores but with high GPA’s do really, really well and we have seen quite a few guys with high test scores and low GPA’s underachieve. I think GPA is a great indicator of a young man’s work ethic and the effort he is willing to give. That usually translates to the basketball court.
We absolutely love multi-sport athletes! Why? They get coached differently. It gives a kid a totally different perspective on another sport and how to think. They have different expectations, teammates and circumstances that might be out of their comfort zone. It teaches them how to fail in a different way and makes them figure out how to fix it. When kids participate in multiple sports, it really completes them as an athlete. Bottom line, we are looking for well-balanced young men with their priorities in line.”
Kansas State volleyball coach Suzie Fritz
“Certainly, there is an undeniable academic component that we need to get to with any recruit. In my opinion, academic success in high school usually leads to a smoother transition at the collegiate level. In many ways, students with a track record of academic success are less maintenance. As a coaching staff, we aren’t worried about “if” that student is going to class or “if” they care about school. It shows a more balanced lifestyle where volleyball is only part of the equation.
At K-State, we love hard-working people that are easy to get along with and are relatively low-maintenance. You have to fit our team culture of being focused on what matters and the willingness to put in the work to be a high achiever. The ideal recruit loves the commitment to team and the process to become great at whatever they put their mind to.”
Cal Lutheran baseball coach Marty Slimak
“It goes without saying that we’re always going to be looking out for the best athletes when we’re out recruiting. We’ll get our share of the big physical players, but at the NCAA Division III level, we don’t always land those type of guys. With that in mind and specific to our program, we are really focused on recruiting speed. We recruit bat speed, leg speed and arm speed. We’ve had a lot of success in that sense because by focusing on speed, we don’t allow physical stature to get in the way of us making a decision on a guy. Speed comes in all shapes and sizes and if a guy possesses speed in any of those areas, we know that the kid is an athlete. And typically speaking, if we’ve got a lineup full of better athletes than the guys across the diamond from us, we’ve got a great chance at winning a lot of games!
Physical talent aside, we’re looking for grinders. We want the guys that are always hustling, always encouraging and just battling in every sense of the word. You may not be the fastest guy on the field or have the strongest arm on the field, but do you consistently get the job done? When you strikeout, are you willing to let the next guy up know what you saw so he might have more success than you had? That’s the stuff that shows true character and that’s what it means to be a true, baseball grinder. This game is all about handling failure and moving on to the next play. Boy, when we see that kind of player with that physical talent I talked about, we’re excited.”
Here’s the deal
Knowing what an “ideal recruit” looks like to a college coach will give you some insight on what college coaches are looking for in the recruiting process.