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 Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology-based recruiting software identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting advisers provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee.
While I was in college at Baylor University, I watched perhaps the best linebacker of all time play college football for four years. From that point on, I was always a huge Mike Singletary fan and not just because he was a great football player. He is a first-ballot NFL Hall of Famer, an ordained minister, a father of seven, a former NFL Head Coach, a motivational speaker and now is the Head Football Coach at Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, Texas. What a great hire for the high school my children attended just a few years ago!
Last week Coach Singletary was nice enough to talk with me about college recruiting and the characteristics college coaches might consider when evaluating a student-athlete for their program. Here is what he had to say.
What advice would you have for a high school athlete who wants to play in college?
I think the first thing any athlete needs to do is to really study their tail off. The more they study the more opportunities they are going to have. Plus, they will have a wider range of schools to choose from.
The second thing is to bust their tail in practice and in games. It will help if they surround themselves with a good group of young people to help cheer them on. At the same time, begin to find mentors to call from time to time for advice because any athlete is going to need it when they get in tight spots.
The last, but perhaps the most important thing is to really pray and ask the Lord to make it clear what is important. What signs do I need to look for? Ask what it is they need instead of picking a place because of the facilities or because it has a great football program.
What do you think college coaches look for when they evaluate an athlete for the next level?
It depends. I think some college coaches are influenced by what everyone else is looking for, some coaches are focused on who the blue-chip guys are and some do a great job finding talent no one else has identified. I think there is a lot of pressure on universities to pick guys because they are supposedly blue-chip players or 5-star, 4-star, 3-star athletes. Many times, these athletes sign, and you never hear from them again.
I think if I was a college coach I would look at the depth of character of each athlete and focus on what they are looking for in a college. If they are just coming to my school to play football, I’m not sure if I want them. I want guys who are looking for something more than just football. I’d be looking for the whole package – a guy who can play the game, but at the same time has a good head on his shoulders. Nine times out of ten, when it gets tough and things don’t work out the way they should, you want a guy who will say “You know what, I’m going to handle this. I’m going to stick with it and work through the problems.” Those are the kind of players every coach should be looking for.
What does it take to be a leader?
I think I can answer that in one short sentence. A leader is someone willing to make decisions and they’re not going to be concerned about the results.
Give me your perspective on the importance of being a good student.
The importance of being a good student… I actually think I did a decent job when I went to college. I wasn’t the best prepared coming out of high school and I struggled early on at Baylor. I had to try and to find out the way I learned, and it took a while. It took about three years before I really understood the way I learned.
Also, I think it’s so important for young people when they go to college to really get the most out of the opportunity and to spend time in the library – I did all those things and if I could do it again I would devote even more time to my studies.
Finally, I’d advise every college student to do everything they can to find a mentor early on. A professor or a student who could help out and give ideas on how to study and how to prepare. I think that would have helped me tremendously.
What are the characteristics of a good teammate?
The first thing I would say is selflessness. Someone who has a good mindset and is not thinking only about themselves. A good teammate thinks about his or her teammates first. If you’re not having a good day and your teammate comes along and pours gasoline on the fire it only makes matters worse. Everyone needs a teammate who says a there’s a bright spot in every situation and that somehow, some way it’s going to work to your advantage.
A good teammate is someone who is positive 100% of the time. It’s not a good situation if you’re working your tail off and your teammate says “Man, it’s hot out here and I want to quit. The coach is killing us, and he doesn’t care about us.” A good teammate says things like “It’s ok, it’s hot everywhere and the hotter it is the better it’s going to be.”
I think it so important to have really good people around you and if you’ve got a teammate that is uplifting and has a good spirit about him that’s going to make it so much more uplifting for your experience.