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 Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. Playced.com 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.
When do I need to start? How does recruiting work? What do I need to do? If you’ve asked any, or all three of these questions about the college recruiting process, this article is for you. Because unless you’re the next Tim Tebow, you’re going to need a recruiting strategy that doesn’t just consist of taking phone calls from college coaches!
Here’s a quick breakdown of 3 common recruiting plans. Pick the one that sounds most like you and start working the process during your summer vacation.
Recruiting Plan No. 1: Act now
Purpose: Get to the interview, get an answer.
Who: Most recruits that fall into this category are high school seniors or juniors who have completed their most recent varsity season.
Key Indicators: You haven’t received any personal correspondence from a college coach, such as an email, phone call or a text (a camp invitation or material from an admission’s office should not be considered a personal correspondence). Neither your club/select coach or your high school varsity coach have indicated that you’re being recruited. You aren’t sure if you’re being recruited or not.
The Breakdown: If you haven’t figured it out by now, the recruiting process is all about your efforts. You need to be the one driving this bus because it’s your career! If you have the desire to play at the next level, there’s a place for you to play. But, it’s time to get real with yourself. You’ve got some serious work to do and that work needed to start yesterday. Here’s your plan:
- Get your resume together now! Include academic info, athletic info, and personal info. Include recruiting video in your resume.
- Identify 15 schools that you can play for, be admitted to, and would want to attend. Don’t waste any time on unrealistic schools.
- Email your resume to the coaching staff at each school.
- Follow your email up with a phone call to those coaches. Yep, you read that right, a phone call. Make sure they received your resume.
- Resend emails that are not responded to at least once. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response, take it as a NO.
- If possible, have a current coach email or call those coaches.
- Do whatever it takes for a coach to tell you YES or NO.
- Adjust to the feedback and keep searching for the school that will say YES.
Recruiting Plan No. 2: Gather momentum
Purpose: Introduce yourself and get on the right radars.
Who: Most recruits that fall into this category are high school sophomores or rising juniors.
Key Indicators: You’ve had a year of varsity experience and are primed to play an impactful role for the remainder of your high school career. You’ve been identified by college programs as a recruit to follow but are yet to receive that verbal offer. Your club/select coach and your high school varsity coach have indicated that you’re being recruited. You know college coaches have noticed you.
The Breakdown: You are well on your way to playing at the next level, so congrats! But don’t start getting complacent, because the work’s only just begun. It’s time for you to set your priorities and start making some decisions about what you’re wanting out of a college experience. Here’s your plan:
- Start building your resume. Note all your academic and athletic achievements. Keep your resume updated as your career progresses, recruiting video included.
- Start researching the programs that have shown you some interest and start discovering similar programs that you have interest in. Make a target list of schools you would like to pursue.
- Send an introductory email to every program you have interest in. Let them know you’re interested. And, don’t worry if you don’t get an email back. Just start the process of communication and articulate your intentions.
- Keep those programs updated as your career progresses. If they’re interested, you’ll know.
- Attend camps at the schools most intriguing to you.
- Be true to what you’re looking for an account for your own happiness.
Recruiting Plan No. 3: Build a foundation
Purpose: Understand how the recruiting process works, while positioning yourself academically and athletically to achieve your goals.
Who: Most recruits that fall into this category are high school freshmen or sophomores.
Key Indicators: You have not yet competed at the varsity level. You don’t know the difference between a junior college program and an NCAA Division I program. In fact, you still aren’t sure what sport you would even want to play in college. You’re adjusting to life as a high schooler.
The Breakdown: Pump the brakes! Timing is everything when it comes to recruiting and you can be very strategic about this. Take this time to build a solid foundation for your future recruiting experience. The fact that you care now will play a huge role later, but you’ve got some time before that window opens. Here’s your plan:
- Fall in love with being a student and an athlete! Passion is a must for every student-athlete that wants to play in college.
- Continuously hone your skills in the classroom and on the field. Practice. Practice. Practice.
- Familiarize yourself with the recruiting rules and how the process works.
- Research the athletic and academic benchmarks necessary to play at the colleges you want to attend. Visualize what it would look like for you to be at that level.
- Attend camps at the schools most intriguing to you and see what the college atmosphere is all about.