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 is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.
If I’m a high school athlete looking to play in college, here’s what I would want out of my future college coach: 1) I would want my coach be honest with me, good or bad; 2) I would want to see that my coach has an unmatched passion for the sport he/she coaches and an unmatched passion for the program he/she coaches; 3) I would want my coach to help me become the very best version of myself, both as a student-athlete and as a person; 4) Lastly, I would want my coach to be a fiery competitor committed to winning the right way.
If you’re a high school athlete looking for the same things out of your future college coach, you’re on the right track. More specifically, if you’re a high school baseball player looking for those qualities in a coach, I have a guy for you to meet! It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Augustana University baseball coach Tim Huber. This week I was able to sit down with one of the great young coaches in all of college baseball to talk recruiting. Here is what he had to say.
Q: How do you and your staff identify recruits?
A: For us, we really need to see you play to get an idea of the kind of player you are, that’s first and foremost. College recruiting has certainly changed over the years with the emergence and popularity of showcases. It seems like you can pretty much get out every weekend and watch a showcase nowadays. I would say it’s a very rare occurrence that we would sign a guy based solely on how he performed at a showcase. That said, we concentrate our efforts on watching competitive baseball in competitive environments. That means we are getting out to some of those showcases, but we spend the majority of our time identifying guys at some of the better regional tournaments and games. We want to see how they perform when the lights are on, so to speak.
Q: What does it take for you to offer a student-athlete a scholarship to Augustana?
A: It always starts with skill-sets and project-ability. You have got to have what it physically takes to compete at this level. That doesn’t mean you need to be a finished product for us to offer you a scholarship. At the Division II level, we understand that there will be a development process with most of our guys. We just don’t get those flat-out polished players like the Division I programs are getting, and that’s okay. But, we need to feel like you are going to be able to get on that field and help our team win games within that first year or two.
I am so proud of what we have done here at Augustana. We pride ourselves in getting the very most out of every player that commits to our program. We take the guys that maybe are a little undersized or guys that haven’t quite refined their tools yet and we coach them up. We get them to buy into the weight room, the philosophies and the commitment to get the most out of their physical/mental potential. That’s what has been the separator for our program.
Q: What’s the best recruiting scenario look like for you?
The more I recruit, the more I see that we are so much better off focusing on the guys that want to be a part of our program. The guys that really like what we are doing and genuinely want to be at Augustana are going to make us a better team. It’s almost like they recruit us as much as we recruit them. We can win with guys like that. We can build tradition and establish a legacy with guys like that. If we have to oversell any recruit or put too much effort into getting them on campus, we just pass on that player and move on. I can tell pretty easily when a kid wants us as much as we want them. That’s the situation that is going to work out.
Q: What is your advice to a student-athlete going through the recruiting process?
A: Be proactive with this process. As a recruit, you should be doing as much research and recruiting as college coaches are doing. Talk to your high school coach and talk to your club coach. Get their input on what level they could see you playing at. Start with the schools that around you and know what your options are. Once you’ve identified the schools you feel are the best fit for you, send the coach an email. Personalize it and let that coach know specifically why you are interested. And I’ll say this about sending an email: most college coaches know when they are getting a bulk email and most coaches that get that bulk email are just going to hit delete, including me. The same goes for when I see an email come through from a recruiting service, I just hit delete. I want to know that you made a conscious decision to communicate your interest in our program. I’m not interested in dealing with players that are just going to settle for whatever comes their way.
Q: How impactful is a high school coach’s or select coach’s opinion of a recruit?
A: I’ve never recruited a player and not talked to their coach. It’s an opinion that reinforces what we are seeing or it can be an opinion that makes us take a deeper look. Talking to a recruit’s coach is simply a part of the process that I will never skip. I think the great majority of college coaches would tell you the same thing. It’s just something that’s going to happen because it’s part of the evaluation process. I want to know that I am getting the right guy for our program and you can’t always come to that conclusion by just watching him in a few games. I love it when I get a call on a guy from his coach, but even if that doesn’t happen, that conversation will take place before we make an offer.