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.
The definition of the word priority can be defined as the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more significant. In other words, some things are just more important than others.
Ask Mike MacIntyre, what the priorities are for his Colorado football program and he would tell you that winning games is fourth on that list. I know what you’re thinking: What could possibly be more important than winning football games at the highest level of college football? Well, Coach MacIntyre would tell you that winning in the classroom, winning as a teammate and winning with your daily habits are far more important priorities than winning any football games. Maybe that’s why Coach MacIntyre’s Buffs had their first 10-win season in 15 years, earning him National Coach of the Year honors along the way.
This week, I had the great honor of speaking with Coach MacIntyre about Colorado’s approach to the college recruiting process. Here is what he had to say.
Q: From a talent perspective, what does it take for a recruit to be noticed by your staff?
A: I learned from Coach (Bill) Parcells that setting physical parameters for the positions you’re recruiting can really help narrow the focus on who you actually recruit. At Colorado, we have a specific height, weight and size that we’re looking for out of each position. Now that can vary a little bit, especially when you’re dealing with high school players. For instance, you might have a guy that has the height you’re looking for but he might not have the size yet. That’s where you have to get eyeballs on him and project whether you think he’s going to grow into those parameters or not. When you’re dealing with 16 and 17-year old kids, a lot of how you physically evaluate them has to do with projection, because most of them aren’t a finished product yet.
Now, there are instances when we will totally break the parameters and recruit a guy that doesn’t fit our mold. If we’re going to do that though, as Coach Parcells would always say, he better be able to walk on water! A good example of that would be when we recruit the running back position. Height isn’t a huge concern for us because all we want out of our running backs is for them to have the ability to square a guy up and miss. They don’t make the holes based on height, they make the holes based on width.
Q: Physical talent aside, what does it take for a recruit to get your attention?
A: When we talk to a recruit’s high school coach, we want to hear that he’s a great teammate. Obviously, the guys that can play at this level are physically gifted and they’re pretty typically the star of their high school team. It really catches our attention when we hear that we’re recruiting a kid that genuinely puts his teammates first. Even though he’s one of the best on the team and probably getting much of the attention, he doesn’t act like it. That’s such a great indicator to us that he will come to Colorado and fit in well with the expectations we put on our guys. It tells us that he has great work ethic, he’s accountable and that he’s got a great chance to grow into the best football player he can possibly be.
Q: What does a high school athlete control during the college recruiting process?
A: They are in total control of their effort in the classroom, their behavior off the field and their intensity on the field. When you see a young man taking care of business in those three areas, you will find that he’s probably reaching his potential as a football player, as well. That’s ultimately what catches the attention of a college coach and what gets you recruited. The whole key to this in not the actual process of recruiting. It’s about whether or not you’re going to be successful when you show up on campus. It’s about being the very best you, in every way possible. And, having those three characteristics already developed as a high schooler means you’re most likely going to have success at the next level. That’s what really matters.
Q: Talk to me about the value system you’ve implemented within your football program.
A: The value system that we live by at Colorado is based on Foundation, Family, Future and Football. We call it The Four F’s and it’s really about making sure our guys have their priorities in order.
Foundation: Consistency in your daily approach to life is what creates a solid foundation. I tell our guys this all the time, “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future. Show me your choices, I’ll show you your destiny.” It’s our job as a staff to help our young men make the right choices and make sure they are surrounding themselves with the right people. It’s their job to have the daily discipline needed to consistently reach their full potential.
Family: It’s all about team to us at Colorado. Put others first. Care more about the guy next to you than you do yourself. That’s accountability and it’s what you do when you’re part of a family. When you give that love, you’re going to feel it, too.
Future: Football is merely a temporary future. The real future is the education you’re working for. Keep those in the right order and have a passion about what you want to do when you’re done playing football for the University of Colorado.
Football: I firmly believe that if you have the first three of these values in order, you will be free to be the best football player you can be. If you’re having issues with the first three, you’re going to be clouded up and limited with what you can achieve on the football field. The better you can be off the field, the better you’re going to be on the field.