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 college planning experience for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.
Whether you believe it or not, college coaches ONLY want to communicate with 2 people (outside their coaching staff) about your recruiting journey: (1) You, and (2) your current coach. They have to/want to talk to you. They would also like to talk with your high school or select/club coach about your abilities and character. They don’t want to talk with your parents, your uncle Wally who played in college, your girlfriend and they certainly don’t want to talk with a “recruiting scout” who has never even seen you play.
Think about it logically. College coaches want great student-athletes who will represent their team and institution in a positive manner every day. To identify those players, the coaches need to get to know you and they want to talk with the coaches who see you at practice, watch you in games and talk with you daily. Certainly your “recruiting team” includes your parents, your guidance counselors, your teammates, etc., but they should only be involved in a support role.
What the college coaches have to say
Over the years we’ve had the opportunity to talk with and interview hundreds of college coaches and there is definitely a common theme when it comes to whose opinion matters in the recruiting process. Here are a few of the quotes from our prior USA TODAY High School Sports interviews with some of the top college coaches in the country:
“The biggest thing with us is we would like to be contacted by the athlete. It is a major turnoff getting emails from a parent or even a recruiting service, so to speak. Quite honestly, we don’t even look at those emails because we know they are going to be slanted or biased. We would really rather have the initial contact come from the athlete or even the high school coach of the athlete.”
—Adam Dorrell, head football coach Northwest Missouri State
“For our program specifically, I would advise a young man to have his high school coach or AAU coach reach out to our staff, on his behalf. If that recruit truly has the ability to play at this level, it is going to take a personal conversation with his coach for us to even consider taking the next step.”
—Billy Kennedy, head basketball coach, Texas A&M University
“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, but if a high school coach had any hesitation about a player, we were out!”
—Mack Brown, former head football coach, University of Texas
“When a coach is making an effort on your behalf, that really stands out to us. If an AAU coach or a high school coach is willing to contact us about you, they obviously think very highly of you.”
—Tom Billeter, head basketball coach, Augustana University
“The opinion of the club coach is one that we typically draw on first. That is the coach that has been around the student-athlete, most recently. We also like to speak with other coaches, teachers, principals or any authority figures involved in the student-athlete’s day-to-day life. We like to have a consensus opinion on any athlete before we get serious and offer a scholarship.”
—Theresa Romagnolo, women’s head soccer coach, Notre Dame University
“Bottom line, the alpha and the omega of the list (of people we listen to) is the high school coach or high school coaches.”
—Mark Henninger, Head Football Coach, Marian University
“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. Those guys are going to shoot us straight and we absolutely listen to their opinions.”
—Matt Wilber, head basketball coach, Dakota Weslayen University
Why your coach’s opinion matters
Apparently, based on the above, 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 you a college scholarship, but understand that your relationship with your current coach can be very telling to any college program interested in you.
Most of the time, your history 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. 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.
How your current coach can help
Most coaches are willing to help their athletes make it to the next level, but it will be easier on you if you make it easy for them. They need direction and guidance in reaching out to programs you are interested in. Their time is precious; therefore, give them an easily executable game plan and the information college coaches will want.
First, be sure your coach agrees that the schools you have targeted are a good fit for your abilities. Then, provide your coach with the recruiting coordinator’s contact information for your top college choices along with your athletic/academic resume so your coach has all the information he or she needs when contacting a college coach. Don’t expect your current coach to contact the coaches at colleges that don’t match your abilities. If they did, that would cause more harm than good.
What if your current coach won’t help?
If your current coach isn’t willing to help you with recruiting or isn’t comfortable helping, you need to improvise. Use an assistant coach, a skills coach, your athletic director or even an opposing coach. If at all possible, you need a credible source to verify your abilities to college coaches. It just makes the recruiting process that much easier.