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 advisers provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee.
College coaches only want to hear from three sources about prospective recruits. They don’t want to talk with your parents, your uncle Zeke who played in college, your girlfriend or a “recruiting scout” they’ve never met.
Think about it logically. College coaches want great student-athletes who will represent their team and institution in a positive manner all day, every day. For that reason, before they consider you a scholarship candidate they want an unbiased, objective opinion of your abilities, they want to know your character and they want to know you personally. For those reasons the sources they listen to are obvious.
For an objective, unbiased assessment of your abilities coaches listen to their coaching staff and perhaps some trusted scouts. With respect to your character, work ethic and leadership, they listen to your current coach. And finally, they want to talk with you because that is really the only way to get to know you as a player, a student and a person. Here’s my perspective on the three sources college coaches listen to and how you can take advantage of each one.
Their coaching staff
The first source college coaches listen to is rather obvious. They trust their coaching staff. They hired their assistant coaches for a reason and usually the assistant coaches have the same coaching philosophy as the head coach. They also tend to evaluate recruits in the same way.
Here’s what legendary Texas Football coach Mack Brown told us about who he listened to when it came to recruiting: “Really we didn’t trust anyone other than our coaching staff and the player’s high school coach. Our coaching staff handled all aspects of recruiting. We didn’t rely on anyone else.”
Given these facts, I would highly recommend that when you email a coach, you “cc” (carbon copy) every coach on staff that might have a say in recruiting you. For instance, if you play defensive back in football, use the “recruiting coordinator” as your main recipient and “cc” the other defensive coaches. Your goal should be to create some sort of accountability within that coaching staff to respond to your email. Also, one coach may notice something they like about you that the others overlooked.
Additionally, get to know who the coaches are at the colleges you are most interested in. A simple “Hello Coach Smith” at a tournament or showcase event certainly can’t hurt.
Your current coach
Your current coach’s opinion can be critical in your recruiting journey. Listen, I’m not telling you to become the coach’s pet and it’s certainly not your coach’s job to find your college scholarship. However, you have to understand that your relationship with your current coach can be very important to any college program interested in you. They are the best source to vouch for your abilities and character. If a coach is willing to vouch for you, that speaks volumes on how they feel about you as a person and an athlete.
Here is what Matt Wilber, Head Basketball Coach at Dakota Wesleyan University told us about why he will listen to a recruit’s current coach: “We will never recruit a guy without talking to the people that surround him. Be it a summer coach or a high school coach, that really doesn’t matter. If we recruit you, we want to know what those guys think about you.”
Most of the time, your actions as a teammate and player is an indication of how you will act in college. Your character is part of a college coach’s evaluation process and your current coach is the most reliable source for that information. Bottom line, the odds of a college coach talking to your current coach are really, really, really high and you have to understand that if you want to get to the next level.
I am a firm believer that you are your best recruiting resource. College coaches will listen to you, IF you have something to say. If you don’t, then they will never get to know you.
Here’s what Arkansas baseball coach Nate Thompson had to say about talking to potential athletes: “Coaches want to deal with players, not parents. We’re recruiting your son to be a part of our program and we want to communicate with him. What does he want? What does he think? Those are the opinions that matter the most to us.”
There is no one better to pick your college home than you. Don’t expect your parents to take care of it for you and don’t ask your current coach to find your college scholarship. In a college coach’s eyes if you hand off your recruiting process to someone else, you will appear lazy, entitled and/or disinterested. Wouldn’t you rather do it yourself and be considered assertive, confident and/or motivated? At some point you will have to talk with the coaching staff at the colleges who are interested in you and I believe it will make a much better impression if you take the initiative to make first contact.
Here’s the deal
A college scholarship is a big investment in an 18-year-old high school athlete. College coaches take that responsibility seriously and will invest the time to make the best decision for their team. They want to and have to listen to their coaching staff, your current coach and perhaps most importantly, to you.