Recruiting Column: Top five characteristics of a college-bound athlete

Recruiting Column: Top five characteristics of a college-bound athlete

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: Top five characteristics of a college-bound athlete


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 This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. 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.

How would you describe yourself to a college coach? Be honest. Are you a hard worker? Reliable? Do details matter to you? How about in the classroom? Would you consider yourself a good student? What would your teachers say about you? How about your coaches? Your teammates? Who are you?

As a recruit, it matters how you answer these questions. In fact, it matters a lot! Do you really want to play in college? Well, I’ve got news for you: it’s going to take more than physical talent to play at the next level. Much more. Sure, physical talent might get you noticed. But, if you want to put on a college uniform someday, it’s all about character!

Here are five characteristics of a high school athlete destined for a college career.

Be objective

Knowing who you are as a student, who you are as an athlete, and understanding where you belong. That’s objectivity. If you genuinely want to play your sport in college, this is a characteristic that you must practice regularly. Not every baseball player can play at LSU, and not every student will be accepted into Harvard. Having a clear picture of what you’re capable of doing, will give you the best chance of getting a scholarship. And keep in mind, the right school for you, may not be the right school for someone else. That’s what makes college recruiting so exciting. It can be as unique as you want it to be. You just have to be objective, when assessing your own abilities.

Have an opinion

Let’s assume that you’re practicing objectivity and you have a good understanding of the type of student-athlete you are. Based on that, ask yourself what it is you really want out of a college career. What is going to make you happy from an academic standpoint? An athletic standpoint? What overall college experience are you looking for? Your answers here are your opinions. And that’s what matters! In other words, you know your point A, and by forming opinions, you’re setting your point B. By forming opinions and creating realistic expectations of what you want to accomplish, you have as much control of the outcome as you can. Make up your mind. You can’t go somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going!

Do work

Ask any highly-recruited high school athlete his or her plan is to achieve a goal, and they’ll answer with a specific task. These student-athletes don’t just talk about it. They be about it. They do work. For example, let’s say you know that you need a 28 on your ACT to get into the school of your dreams, and you score a 26 on your first try. Well, are you going to put in the extra preparation and study time to get to that 28? Or are you going to just accept the 26? Let’s say you’re a wide receiver who runs a 4.7 40, and you recently found out you needed to run a 4.6, to get that scholarship offer. Would you be willing to sacrifice your off-season personal time to get to that 4.6? Doing work means you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get to the next level.

Be thankful

Do you give the same effort in the classroom, that you do on the field? Do you work as hard in practices, as much as you do in the games? Do you genuinely appreciate every letter, email or text you get from any college coach? Are you thankful to even be considered for the next level?

Here’s the deal: everything should be seen as an opportunity to better yourself. And for every opportunity, you should be grateful. Caring about your academic career creates better opportunities for your life after sports. Always working hard in practice creates better opportunities in games. Being thankful to the coaches that recruit you, regardless of the level, creates better relationships.

Listen, you will likely go through the recruiting process one time in your life. Be thankful and never take anything, or anyone, for granted. It will make the recruiting process so much more enjoyable. Not just for you, but everyone else supporting you!

Stay focused

If the answer to where you want to play in college is that you want to go D-1, you aren’t focused on the things that matter. In fact, that answer usually indicates that a student-athlete really has no idea what he or she wants.

Imagine someone walking into a car dealership looking for a new vehicle. The car salesman would go through a natural progression of questions. SUV? Car? Truck? How much money do you want to spend? So on and so forth. Then, imagine the look on the dealer’s face if that person responded to those questions saying they wanted something shiny and cool. Well, when it comes to college recruiting, saying you want to go D-1, is basically saying you want something shiny and cool! It’s baseless. It’s thoughtless!

Here’s my point: highly-recruited athletes focus on the whole picture, not just surface things. Theoretically, D-1 indicates a high level of athletic ability. But, what it doesn’t indicate is how satisfied with your college experience you’ll be. Get past the shiny and cool when deciding on a college and focus on what matters for you.


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