The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
Over the last several years we’ve interviewed college coaches at every level and from many different sports. Their advice to student-athletes on the recruiting process has been great! We’ve asked them every recruiting question in the books, from how they identify potential athletes, to how social media has changed college recruiting and everything in between. One question we’ve asked quite often is: “What age do you start paying attention to prospective student-athletes?”
Here are the answers to that question from three current college head coaches:
Louisiana State University baseball coach Paul Mainieri
“Recruiting has really evolved into a situation that I’m not all that happy about. We’re having to recruit guys as early as the time they’re entering high school, now. It’s something that seems to start earlier and earlier each year. As I mentioned, I’m not thrilled about that, but it’s kind of a runaway train and if you don’t jump on board, you get left behind.
At this level of college baseball, so many players are making commitments by their sophomore year of high school, certainly by their junior year, which means you have to start tracking them as early as freshmen year. Even a decade ago, when we had the No. 1-ranked recruiting class my first year at LSU, we weren’t recruiting guys until the summer before their senior year. So, this is a fairly new phenomenon we’re seeing in college recruiting.”
Clemson Football Coach Jeff Scott
“Typically speaking, we start identifying the young men we have interest in either freshmen or sophomore year of high school. That’s when we really get serious about getting names on our recruiting boards and into our database. We’ll start watching film on those guys and make those initial evaluations that are so important.”
North Carolina women’s soccer coach Chris Ducar
“Recruiting has changed so much in the twenty-plus years that I’ve been at North Carolina. We’re now recruiting players as early as their freshmen year of high school. I know that seems crazy but I think the majority of that change has to do with the talent-level of these kids.
The level in which high school athletes are competing in 2017 is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. They’re such sophisticated players that play beyond their age and they just keep getting better, year-after-year. Just look at the resources available to these kids. They’re getting professional, top notch coaching before they even step foot in a high school. They’re getting professional-level speed and strength training.
With the internet and TV, they have access to anything soccer, 24 hours a day. It’s a combination of all those things that brings us to where we are right now with college recruiting. If you can play at this level, it’s almost certain that someone is going to take notice of you by your freshmen or sophomore year of high school.”
Based on the above, it appears that the college recruiting process starts your freshman year in high school.