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 is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting experts provide a recruiting experience that is backed by a money-back guarantee.
Summer is almost over and school starts for most high school students in a few weeks. Does the following describe you?
- A high school senior looking to play in college,
- A good student and a good teammate, and
- Haven’t been highly recruited.
If the above describes you, then it’s time to stop hoping a college coach finds you and make something happen on your own. Unfortunately, at this point in your recruiting journey, the chances of a college coach suddenly finding you from a box score in the newspaper, or by stumbling across your profile on a recruiting site are remote. You’re just another high school athlete among thousands still looking for a roster spot.
If this is your situation, a little panic might be justified and a sense of urgency is required! That said, all is not lost. There are only two possible reasons why college coaches haven’t contacted you yet: (1) they aren’t interested, or (2) they don’t know about you. There’s not much you can do about the first reason, so let’s focus on fixing the second one. Here are some specific things that need to happen if you still want to play at the next level.
Reevaluate and adjust
By now if you aren’t at least communicating with a few college coaches, it’s time to reevaluate the schools you’re targeting and/or adjust your approach to the process. Are you serious about playing in college, or do you want to leave your cleats and tennis shoes at home?
If you haven’t proactively contacted any college coaches yet, what are you waiting for? Right now, your window of scholarship opportunities is closing a little each day. If you don’t start soon, you might play your sport in college, but it will be on the intramural fields. Start today, right after you finish reading this article. Here are the highlights of a workable game plan.
First things first. You’re getting a late start so you should focus on colleges you are positive you have a legitimate shot at making the roster. Then, I would pursue a few fallback schools. Forget about the elite Division I colleges. For the most part their rosters are full and you haven’t even started a conversation yet. Concentrate on the colleges that will be just as interested in you as you are in them. Let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun and productive to send an email to a coach and actually receive a response.
If you have been contacting college coaches and they aren’t responding, in a way that is a response. Wake up and smell the Gatorade! Either their recruiting class is full, they don’t have a need at your position, or they aren’t interested right now. No matter which of these is the case, you need to find some alternatives. Start with evaluation from an unbiased third party or have an honest conversation with your current coach and take his or her input to heart. No matter what the evaluation suggests, don’t take it personally, just continue to work hard and pursue colleges that match that evaluation.
It’s now a numbers game
As a senior with no college options, your recruiting process is now a numbers game. The more appropriate colleges you contact, the better your chances are to find a scholarship. It’s really that simple. You might find a college that has an interest with your first email, but most likely you’ll have to contact multiple schools, multiple times to find one that you qualify for academically, has a roster spot open, and needs a player at your position. You really don’t have any time to waste, you need to get busy now.
Getting busy now means carving out the time necessary to identify the right colleges, connecting with the coaches at those schools and being persistent. I’m not asking you to spend hours every night researching colleges and sending emails. In fact, twenty minutes a night, three or four days a week will make a huge difference.
Here’s how you start. First, follow up with any colleges you previously contacted. Then contact the coaches at the colleges you have identified that match your abilities. I’d suggest you contact at least 20 new schools.
A few days after sending your emails, ask your coach if he or she will follow up with a few schools. Give them all the information they need to quickly and effectively communicate with those coaches. This would include the contact information for the coaches at your top five colleges, a copy of your previous correspondence and your athletic/academic resume. You need to make it easy for your current coach to contact colleges on your behalf. His or her opinion about whether you can play for a particular team will go a long way in landing a scholarship.
If emails are not working, try Twitter, go on an unofficial visit, and/or just pick up the phone. You need to do whatever it takes to get noticed. Once you are noticed, you might get recruited.
Finally, your grades and test scores are critical in recruiting. Think about it this way, the more colleges you qualify for academically, the more options you will have athletically. For that reason alone, you may want to take an SAT or ACT prep course and re-take the test one last time to increase your college opportunities.
Here’s the deal
If you’re a senior, college will be here before you know it. If you aren’t at least communicating with several college coaches, then time is of the essence. It’s not too late, if you’re willing to commit to the process.