Recruiting Column: The Top 10 college recruiting rules of engagement

Recruiting Column: The Top 10 college recruiting rules of engagement

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: The Top 10 college recruiting rules of engagement


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 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 college recruiting process can be frustrating, stressful and confusing. In addition, unless you’re the next LeBron James, you most likely will experience some disappointments along the way. Not every college will be banging down your door and at times it may seem like other recruits are having more success than you are. That is normal. Keep in mind that every recruit’s journey is unique. You really shouldn’t worry about the things you can’t control. Don’t fret about what is happening with other players and don’t try to guess what coaches are thinking. That will drive you crazy.

To have a successful, stress-free recruiting journey you need to stay focused on the task at hand. To help you do that, here are my Top 10 College Recruiting Rules of Engagement. If you follow these simple rules they will help you focus on what you can control and ensure you don’t give the college coaches a reason to scratch your name off their lists.

1. Be realistic about your abilities

Be honest with yourself. Not every student is going to get into Stanford and not every athlete can play for Ohio State, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is being the recruit that doesn’t understand what schools make the most sense for your abilities.

MORE: Know your college options

Being focused on the right schools will put you on the fast-track to becoming a serious recruit.

2. Be coachable

The dictionary definition of coachable is “capable of being easily taught and trained to do something better.” Almost every athlete is coachable when they start their career. I’m not sure why, but for some athletes that changes over time. So, what does it take to be coachable?

  • Be thankful someone is willing to take their time to help you improve
  • Be open to honest feedback
  • Be willing to work hard
  • Be humble

College coaches want players who are coachable. They can spot an uncoachable player from a mile away and they know that very rarely can a coach make a player coachable. Being a coachable athlete will go a long way with your current coach and prospective college coaches.

3. Appreciate the opportunity

Roughly 7 percent of all high school athletes go on to play in college. The cold hard truth is that competing at the collegiate level will not become a reality for the vast majority of high school athletes. For those of you that are lucky enough to have the talent to play at the collegiate level, don’t take it for granted. Enjoy the process. Be thankful for every letter, every email, every text and every phone call.

4. Understand that mistakes happen

No one is perfect. You will make mistakes. Everyone does and college coaches understand that. When a coach comes to watch you play, don’t worry about making a mistake. They don’t expect you to be perfect; in fact, they want to see how you react to a mistake. Your reaction to an error, a turnover, or a fumble tells so much more about you as a player than the mistake itself. Forget about the last play. There is nothing you can do about it. Make the next play and the one after that.

5. Be careful on social media

Everything you do on social media represents who you are. You are painting a self-portrait with everything you like, everything you tweet, everything you post and everything you share.

MORE: Don’t be foolish on social media

Every college coach that is interested in you as a recruit will check your social media before they speak with you.

6. Be accountable for your recruiting journey

This is your future and career. It’s not your mom’s or dad’s. It’s not your coach’s. It’s no one else’s but yours. If you want to play at the next level, do whatever it takes to get there. If you aren’t going to do what it takes, don’t blame anyone else for not getting you the scholarship that you didn’t really want that badly anyway.

7. Don’t wait until your senior year to start

The recruiting process is an ongoing, involved process that ideally should be started as early as your freshman year in high school or earlier.

MORE: Your year-by-year recruiting timeline

During your freshman year, you can start familiarizing yourself with the process and identifying colleges that might interest you. As a sophomore and junior you really need to step up your efforts. If you want the reward of playing your sport in college, don’t wait until the last minute.

8. Don’t compare yourself with other recruits

Comparing your recruiting experience to a teammate’s recruiting experience is a dangerous thing. Often, it leads to jealously, envy and unnecessary self-scrutiny. It’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to your teammate. And, those type of feelings cause you to lose focus on what really matters; you! Every recruit is different. The reasons that make one recruit appealing to one program might not be the same for another.

9. Get your coach involved

Your coach’s opinion of you absolutely matters. It matters to college coaches. In fact, high praise from your coach can make or break the outcome to your college recruiting experience.

MORE: Your current coach can be the difference-maker

Ask your coach to be a part of this process with you. Let him/her know of your intentions, but keep in mind it’s not your coach’s job to find you a college scholarship. It’s your coach’s job to support you.

10. Be persistent

How bad do you want it? That’s what you need to ask yourself. You will encounter setbacks. You will have to deal with failure. You will indeed, be rejected. But, if becoming a college athlete is in your gut, you have to accept the process, the good and the bad. Stick to it, because playing at the next level will undoubtedly change your life forever.

Here’s the deal

Focus on what matters. Follow these 10 rules and your recruiting journey should be a great experience. Focus on what you can control, work hard and good things will happen.


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