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 Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. 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.
Five minutes. That’s how long it took during my recent conversation with Clemson strength and conditioning coach Joey Batson, to realize why the Tigers are one of the best programs in the country. It is extremely evident that Clemson has ascended to the top of the college football ranks because of 1. humble leadership; 2. motivated student-athletes; and 3. a disciplined commitment to the idea of team and family. For you recruits out there wanting to know what it takes to not only get to the next level, but stay at the next level, there’s your formula right there.
I didn’t get a degree from Clemson and I have never lived in South Carolina, but I can promise you this; unless they are playing Kansas State, I will be rooting for Clemson!
Q: What are the strength and conditioning expectations of incoming freshmen into an elite college program like Clemson?
A: All of our guys come from different circumstances and different backgrounds. What each of them experiences before they get to Clemson is not anything we have control over. So, the expectation we have on our athletes, from a strength & conditioning standpoint, really starts when they step foot on our campus. Every guy starts his career with us at a “ground zero” level and is expected to learn the way we do things. It is not necessarily about re-teaching them the technical side of the lifts and movements. It’s about teaching them how we do it at Clemson. By doing it this way, every young man is treated fairly and has a starting point to their growth and maturity here, and hopefully at the next level.
Q: How can a high school athlete best prepare for the next level?
A: Take an honest assessment of who you are and what you want. Figure out a way to strengthen your weaknesses and enhance your strengths. My message is to get 1% better at something every day. You have got to have the mindset of building yourself up one day at a time. Becoming your best isn’t just about what you can do for yourself, it’s about what you can do for others. Learn how to love, serve and care more! If you take care of the people around you, you will be exactly where you need to be.
I would also tell these young men and women to stop looking at all of these rankings and recruiting sites. These kids start paying attention to what is going on with every other recruit in the country and it creates a ton of pressure on them. Quit comparing yourself to everyone else and focus on you. Bloom where you’re planted!
Q: How does success in the weight room translate into success on the field?
A: We have a standard at Clemson and that standard is best. Being successful in the weight room isn’t going to translate into success on the field, unless that kid is committed to being the best outside of the weight room, too. You can have a team full of weight room All-Americans but that isn’t all it takes! Success on the field comes from chasing your very best every single day. Consistently chase your best in the classroom, in the community, during a drill, in the weight room… Whatever it is, be your best. That’s what gets you successful on the field. I think that really should apply to every recruit in the country, regardless of whether they come to Clemson or not. Make best your standard; that is what success is all about.
Q: Talk about the importance of diet and rest in the life of a college athlete.
A: Routine is an absolute key for athletes. Whether it be working out, practicing, eating or sleeping, your body will work at an optimal level when it gets what it needs and it gets it regularly. If you haven’t already, start making the right nutritional and diet choices. You don’t have to be perfect, but get the basics down and know that how you fuel your body every day, affects your performance. Listen, your body is your business and if you want your business to prosper, you have got to make the right investments! Eating right and getting a good night’s sleep have got to be the standard if you are wanting to become a college athlete.
Q: What separates the best athletes from the rest?
A: It’s the guys with talent that give the most effort. They prepare the best and understand the process it takes to play at their highest capabilities. The guys that embrace learning and are constantly seeking knowledge, the ones that are true students of the game; those are the true great ones.
It’s important for these athletes to understand that nothing is owed to them, not during the recruiting process and not once they get on campus. Everything you get as an athlete is 100% earned, especially at this level. Guess what, you got guys in front of you and you got guys coming in behind you, and they all have the expectation of starting. If you want to be 1 of the 11 on that field, you have got to compete and fight your tail off to get there.