The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
Over the last several years, we’ve had the opportunity to interview and talk to some of the best college coaches in the country. Their advice on the recruiting process is invaluable. Here are three of the best answers to our recent recruiting questions.
Q: How does social media factor into the recruiting process?
A: Social media is a huge part of the recruiting process in 2017. It allows us to get our brand in front of potential recruits and families that are interested in learning more about Clemson. I can remember seven or eight years ago when a prospect would come on campus, it was really the first time they were meeting coaches, seeing facilities and learning about your program. Now, prospects know a ton about Clemson before they even step foot on campus. They have a great feel for what we are all about because of what they see on social media.
Social media is also a great way to communicate and learn more about the prospects we are recruiting. At Clemson, we have an entire office whose sole duty is to go through the social media of our prospects. It’s extremely important for us to understand who we are dealing with. That office will look through the content and report to our coaching staff on what they are finding. Every year, we will eliminate prospects on our board because of questionable content. We’ve eliminated guys for inappropriate language, images, retweets or anything that we see as a red flag. Conversely, guys have moved up on our board because of the positive things we are able to learn through the various social media channels. It serves as a tremendous resource for us.
Q: What is your advice to a student-athlete going through the recruiting process?
A: Be proactive with this process. As a recruit, you should be doing as much research and recruiting as college coaches are doing. Talk to your high school coach and talk to your club coach. Get their input on what level they could see you playing at. Start with the schools that around you and know what your options are. Once you’ve identified the schools you feel are the best fit for you, send the coach an email. Personalize it and let that coach know specifically why you are interested.
And I’ll say this about sending an email: most college coaches know when they are getting a bulk email and most coaches that get that bulk email are just going to hit delete, including me. The same goes for when I see an email come through from a recruiting service, I just hit delete. I want to know that you made a conscious decision to communicate your interest in our program. I’m not interested in dealing with players that are just going to settle for whatever comes their way.
Q: Typically speaking, when do you start paying attention to potential recruits?
A: I would say the typical age we start paying attention to a recruit is 16, or sophomore year of high school. It may be easy to spot the top 300 football players on the planet at age 14 or 15. But, it’s not as easy to spot the next 1000 or 2000 that end up at all levels of division I football. So much of the attention a young man generates as a recruit has to do with his physical maturity. Like many other programs, we start paying attention to a young man when he displays that he is physically mature enough to meet the demands of division I football. Typically speaking, that’s age 16.
The reality of recruiting is you don’t really know how interested you will be in a young man until you meet him. I make that point to our coaches all the time. We don’t offer kids just based on transcripts or video or emails. It takes meeting them and interviewing them for us to really understand how well they would fit in with our program. A lot of college recruiting is about the gut instinct you have on people, based on human interactions. At the end of the day, you’re making bets on people and you’re certainly not going to marry someone before you get to know them!