Recruiting Column: Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin, Washington’s Chris Petersen give recruiting advice

Photo: UW Athletics

Recruiting Column: Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin, Washington’s Chris Petersen give recruiting advice

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin, Washington’s Chris Petersen give recruiting advice


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.

You will go through the recruiting process once in your high school career. The first time you go through this process, will be the last time you go through this process. Once! Think about that; for such an important decision, you have a margin for error that is almost non-existent. In other words, you want to do everything in your power to get this right!

If you’re a high school athlete struggling through the college recruiting process, slow down for a minute. Because, you can start getting it right by taking advice from some of the most respected men in all of college sports. Here’s a look back at our coach interview highlights from the last month.

Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt Baseball

Q: What would you like every high school athlete to know about the recruiting process?

A: It will take time, so don’t feel like you need to rush when you’re deciding on which school is right for you. This is such an individualized process and unfortunately, I think young men and women lose track of that, at times. Quit worrying about what everyone else has going on or when they’re committing. Your circumstances are completely different, so don’t feel like your process needs to match the speed of someone else’s process.

Also, it’s important to understand that being recruited is such a gift, at any level. Sure, it’s going to be competitive and with competition, you can’t always expect your situation to be comfortable. That’s just the nature of college athletics. But to have your athletic ability provide you with the opportunity of a college education, is truly a gift. So, enjoy it and open your present slowly!

(Photo: Jay Powell)

Q: What advice do you have for a high school player not getting much attention from college coaches?

A: It’s all about building relationships and understanding your conditions. Don’t be afraid to knock on some doors and make an introduction. As a coach, my goal when I’m recruiting a player is to ensure that what we’re doing at Vanderbilt, aligns with what he’s wanting and needing as a student, and as an athlete. Just because we like you, doesn’t mean you need to like us. The main objective is to find a place that fits your goals and we want to help you do that, regardless if it’s here or not. You can figure out where you belong through the relationships you develop and nurture. The ability to communicate your intentions will take you a long way in this process. 

Chris Petersen, Washington Football

Q: So much of the recruiting process is about understanding your ability-levels. How can a high school athlete go about getting an objective evaluation?

A: Getting that objective evaluation is probably one of the most important things for any recruit. Without it, you have no idea where you even need to start the recruiting process. I think getting that evaluation is all about communication. As a recruit, you need to get with people that will give you honest information about what level is right for you and that probably starts with your high school coach. Listen, just because you want to play Division I football, doesn’t mean you can play Division I football. Heck, I was one of those guys when I was in high school! Fortunately for me, my dad was a coach. He could give me that honest information and help me understand what level was a better fit for me.

You can also get feedback directly from the programs you’re interested in. There’s so much football being played at the various levels, so the opportunity is there. Reach out to a few FBS schools. Reach out to some FCS and Division II schools. Ask them for genuine feedback on where they feel you fit, as a player. Because If you start talking to enough people, you’re going to discover the options that actually exist for you.

Q: What advice do you have for a high school player not getting much attention from college coaches?

A: First of all, you’re in the majority! You always see and hear about the guys getting all the attention with the signing parties, the big to-do’s and you’re sitting at home wondering why’s that not happening for you.  Well just understand, that’s not the reality of college recruiting. Whether you’re being heavily recruited, lightly-recruited or not recruited at all, the fact of the matter is that you’ve got to be proactive with this process. Like anything in life, you should be your own advocate. Take it upon yourself to figure out how where you belong. Think about it; that’s what most students, who aren’t playing football, have to do anyway. For you, football is just an additional component to factor in the mix. So, what? Get to a decision on the schools that fit you academically, then get to the football program and get the accurate information we discussed earlier, and find a school that makes sense. Don’t let somebody else tell you what the best fit is for you. Figure that out for yourself.

Dr. Chris Parker, Executive Director – NJCAA

Q: What advice do you have for high school students looking to play in college?

A: Remain confident and understand that college recruiting is a process. Things don’t always work out how you think they should work out, they work out how they’re supposed to work out. So, stay steady and trust your abilities. Focus on the bigger picture of furthering your education and playing for a program that’s right for you. A lot of young men and women make the mistake of not seeing things for what they are. They can’t be honest with their abilities and they end up slighting themselves throughout the recruiting process. Don’t let that happen to you. Self-identity is everything when it comes to college recruiting. Understand the environment around you so you have the most realistic chance of success.

Jim Carr, President – NAIA

Q: What advice do you have for high school students looking to play in college?

A: Focus on getting to know the institution. When coaches are recruiting you, they’re focused on learning as much about you, as possible. Take that same approach with the programs that are recruiting you. Do your research and learn. Then visit the schools that make the most sense for you. Walk the campus and see the facilities. Sit in on a class, meet with the coaches and players. Get a feel for what your day-to-day life would look like as a student, and as an athlete.

Recruiting is a lot like selling, and a coach is essentially a sales rep for his/her program. As they should, they’re going to show you all the good things and the things they want you to see. That’s their job and that’s why they’re in the position they’re in! That said, you should be looking for the things they aren’t trying to show you. Most of the time you will find what you’re looking for, good or bad, if your eyes are open.


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