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 identifies appropriate colleges for potential recruits and delivers an online DIY college planning experience for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.
Becoming a college athlete is not necessarily the complex, confusing and overwhelming process a lot of people make it out to be. However, the first time you go through the college recruiting process, will (most likely) be the last time you go through the process. For that reason, every recruit and his or her parents will have many questions that need to be answered.
This year, we have covered many topics, interviewed college coaches and tried to answer as many recruiting questions as possible in this column. Over the last few months, I have answered hundreds of questions on recruiting and there are a few specific ones that keep coming up. In an effort to reduce my email traffic, here are the questions and answers most often asked by college recruits and their parents.
When is the best time to start the recruiting process?
If you are a high school athlete looking to play in college, the best time to start the recruiting process is RIGHT NOW! It’s never too early to get started. Whether you are a freshman or a senior, the sooner you get started, the better chance you will have to land a college scholarship.
Many college coaches look to connect, develop and maintain relationships with athletes during their freshman or sophomore year. For that reason, high school athletes should approach recruiting as a four-year process. If you are a freshman, you don’t need to start contacting college coaches, but lay the groundwork by creating a recruiting timeline and familiarize yourself with the recruiting process.
I don’t know how to get started with recruiting. What should I do?
College recruiting is not brain surgery. Here is a simple three step game plan that should get you going in the right direction:
- Identify Realistic Colleges to pursue: This is by far the hardest and most important part of the process for every recruit. If you cannot be realistic with who you are as a student and who you are as an athlete, you will struggle with the recruiting process. Pursue colleges that have as much interest in you as you have in them. You have a limited time to find the right fit; don’t waste it on schools that are out of reach.
- Connect with the coaches: Contact the coaches at the colleges you identified in Step 1. Express interest in their programs, and explain how you will be an asset to their team. Don’t guess about where you can play. The only way to be certain is to ask. If you don’t ask, the answer is always “No”.
- Get a coach involved: Pick a trusted coach to use as an advocate and supporter. The chances greatly increase to generate positive interest from college coaches when you have a current coach to vouch for your abilities and character.
I am a senior in high school and I want to play in college. Is it too late to start the recruiting process?
The answer to this question is “No, it’s not too late, but you have to kick it into gear.” If you are a senior and you aren’t being actively recruited, obviously something has to change. Either you are not putting the effort in, or you are pursuing the wrong schools. There are still roster spots open at many schools, but don’t fool yourself, the elite NCAA Division I schools have already filled their recruiting classes. Most likely you need to look at smaller Division I, Division II, NAIA or Division III options. Junior college might also be a great opportunity.
Do some research and identify as many realistic college options as you can. Then, review the rosters and recruiting classes to be sure they have a need at your position. Finally, reach out to the coaches at the schools that are a fit and ask your current coach to do the same. Be persistent and don’t get discouraged.
What are the academic requirements to be recruited?
First of all, before you can play for a college or university you have to be academically eligible by NCAA or NAIA standards. Then you must be accepted into the school. That means you have to meet that school’s academic requirements.
The academic eligibility rules can be complicated. For example, at the NCAA Division I level your Grade Point Average (“GPA”) is computed using only your grades in your core courses and you must have a minimum 2.3 GPA in those courses to be eligible. No college program can get around that. Your core courses are specific courses required by the NCAA.
Additionally, there is a sliding scale which adds your SAT/ACT scores to your core course GPA and the combination determines your eligibility. The lower your core course GPA, the higher your SAT/ACT score has to be. For a 2.3 core course GPA you have to score a minimum 900 on your Verbal and Math SAT or combined 75 on your ACT. (The combined ACT score is a sum of the following four sections: English, mathematics, reading and science.) As your core course GPA rises, your required test scores fall.
Here is the bottom line on academic eligibility; each division of the NCAA and the NAIA has different eligibility standards. If you are at all concerned about your academic eligibility, then you need to talk with your high school guidance counselor sooner rather than later.
What is the best way to submit my video to college coaches?
The best way to submit your video to college coaches is by sending a short, respectful, personal email to the coaches at the schools in which you have interest. Include a link to your video in the email along with some information about your athletic and academic qualifications. Also include the contact information of your current coach.
Do not send a direct message to a coach saying “Check out my highlight film” and don’t count on a coach finding your video on a recruiting site. Recruiting sites may be a way for coaches who are already interested in you to check you out, but they are generally not discovery sites.
Visit www.Playced.com and click on LIVE CHAT for FREE 24/7 live recruiting assistance.