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 software identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting advisors provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee.
If you’re a high school senior who wants to play in college and you don’t have any college options yet, WAKE UP AND SMELL THE GATORADE! It’s January and you’ll be leaving for college soon, with or without your cleats. It’s time for “Panic Mode.” Creating another “online profile” isn’t going to do it! And neither will sending emails to elite Division I colleges. Their rosters are full.
If you believe that you have the talent to play in college and you’re a good student and a good teammate, then there is still time. That said, the chances of a college coach suddenly finding you without some help is like trying to find Waldo. You’re just another face in the crowd of thousands of high school athletes. Something needs to change.
There are only two possible reasons why college coaches haven’t contacted you yet: (1) They aren’t interested, or (2) they don’t know about you. There’s not much you can do about the first reason, so let’s focus on fixing the second. Here are some specific things you need to do if you’re a senior and you really want to play at the next level.
Be really, really realistic
I know everyone wants to play football at Alabama or basketball at Duke, but if you haven’t heard from their coaching staff yet, then it’s probably not in the cards. At this point, you need to be really, really realistic.
If you’ve been reaching out to college coaches and they aren’t responding, take the hint and move on. You might need to reassess the kinds of colleges you are contacting. To do that, have an honest conversation with your current coach about your abilities and take his or her input to heart. No matter what their evaluation is, don’t take it personally and just be thankful that they care enough to shoot you straight.
If you haven’t been contacting colleges yet, what in the world are you waiting for? Start today, right after you talk with your current coach, but make sure you only pursue colleges where you are certain you have a legitimate shot at making the roster. Then pursue some fallback schools. Forget about the elite Division I colleges. You have to concentrate on the colleges that are just as interested in you as you are in them. Plus, it’s a lot more fun and productive when you send an email to a coach and they actually respond.
Find the time to be proactive
Make a commitment to carve out the time necessary to find the right colleges, connect with the coaches and be persistent. This might take you a couple hours per week or it might take longer, but at this point it has to be done religiously.
Since it’s your senior year, you need to start yesterday. First, follow up with any colleges you previously contacted and eliminate the ones that don’t respond. Then, identify at least 20 additional schools that make sense for your athletic and academic abilities and send emails to those colleges also. It is important that you personalize your emails. Sending a “canned” email and not addressing the coach by name will get you nowhere. At this point in the recruiting process, college coaches want players who are truly interested in their program.
Really, your recruiting process is now a numbers game. The more appropriate colleges you reach out to, the better your chances are to find a scholarship. It’s that simple. Since you are finishing up your senior year, you have to get busy NOW!
Get your current coach involved now
Your current coach can make a huge difference in your recruiting process. If your coach is willing to contact college coaches on your behalf and vouch for your abilities, that goes a long way with a college coach.
If you can, ask your current coach to review your list of colleges before you spend any time contacting the coaches at those schools. Your current coach really needs to agree with the colleges you are pursuing. Then, ask if they are willing to contact a few college coaches on your behalf. Don’t give them dream schools to contact, give them the colleges where you definitely have a chance to make the roster. Give your coach the contact information for the colleges he or she will be contacting and a copy of your athletic/academic resume. This makes it easy for them to talk intelligently about you.
Make sure you have a quality highlight video
A clear, concise highlight video is critical if you want to have a chance with a college coach this late in the game. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but you really need to have a short (2-3 minute) video showcasing your athletic abilities. Since you’re a senior, most college coaches don’t have time to visit your games and/or a showcase event you might attend. They need a way to efficiently determine if they are interested in you as a player. Your highlight video can provide that information.
The reason video has become so critical in the college recruiting process is because there are two absolutes with respect to video:
- Video doesn’t lie and
- Video does not have an opinion.
Video provides the easiest and quickest way for college coaches to decide if they are interested in talking with you.
Be prepared to do whatever it takes
If emails are not working and your coach can’t get their attention, try Twitter, go on an unofficial visit, and/or just pick up the phone. You need to do whatever it takes to get noticed. Once you are noticed, you might actually get recruited.
Here’s the deal
If you’re a senior this year and you want to play in college, but haven’t been noticed yet then something has to change. You are either pursuing the wrong colleges, or you need to get off the couch and put in the time to find the right college opportunity. Everyone knows the old saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.” Well, if you’re a senior athlete and you’re not sure about your college future, you need to work on it today and again tomorrow!