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 advisors provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee.
Are you just going through the motions when it comes to finding your college scholarship? Do you take the easy way out and are you doing things you know won’t really move your recruiting needle? Maybe your parents or coaches encouraged you to put some effort into your recruiting process and you feel like you have to at least act like you’re making an effort (even if it’s not high on your priority list). If any of these describe you with respect to your college recruiting process, then you are guilty of ‘fake recruiting.’ Essentially, you’re not being honest about your abilities, you’re only working the process to please someone else, or you’re choosing to do as little as possible and hoping for a miracle.
I am here to tell you that unless you’re a five-Star athlete, your success in college recruiting is most likely going to be directly related to the amount of effort you’re willing to put into finding the right college. You can’t fake your way through the recruiting process. You have to be honest about your abilities, come up with a strategic recruiting game plan and commit to the process. Here are five ways to avoid being guilty of ‘fake recruiting.’ If, at the end of this article you can claim “not guilty on all counts,” then I’d bet you’ll be playing your sport at the next level.
Don’t overstate your statistics
One of the most common ways to commit ‘fake recruiting’ is to overstate or project your athletic or academic statistics and accomplishments. I get it, it seems harmless to round down your 40 time, or project where you might be athletically in a few months, but that’s the fastest way to get your name permanently scratched off a recruiting list. If you think college coaches don’t cross-check this information, think again. Every college coach will verify your stats and grades before they invest any significant amount of time recruiting you.
Be honest about your abilities and work hard to improve. Coaches know that for underclassmen they need to project where each player might be as a senior. They also understand that some athletes develop later than others. If you’re realistic about your abilities, your chances to find a college scholarship increase dramatically. If you overstate your statistics and abilities, how do you think a coach is going to react when he or she finds out you were faking it?
An online profile won’t get you recruited
An online profile can be helpful to any athlete’s recruiting process. That said, every recruit needs to understand that posting a profile online and waiting for the scholarship offers to roll in the door is like hoping the homecoming queen will ask you out on a date when she doesn’t even know your name. It’s definitely one of the top 5 ways to commit ‘fake recruiting.’ Most college coaches don’t spend their evenings scouring through thousands of profiles on recruiting sites. And even if they did, what makes you think your profile will stand out from the others, or that the right college coaches will even see it?
The most effective way to use an online profile/resume is for you (the recruit) to share a link to your profile with the coaches you have identified as realistic possibilities. Don’t wait around and hope the exact right coach accidentally stumbles upon your profile. It’s probably not going to happen.
Don’t waste your time pursuing the wrong colleges
In my opinion, contacting the wrong schools is the No. 1 source of frustration for college recruits and their parents. It is the most common way to commit ‘fake recruiting.’ There is nothing worse than sending multiple emails to numerous college coaches and receiving no responses. If you’re contacting unrealistic colleges, you might as well send the emails to fake colleges! To avoid this frustration in the recruiting process you have to know which colleges are the right colleges for you.
Identifying the right schools is not simple, but it’s not really that hard either. The first step is to understand which level colleges match your athletic abilities. To do that, have a candid conversation with your current coach. Just ask for an honest opinion on how you stack up with other players in your sport. Once you have an accurate evaluation, creating a list of appropriate colleges isn’t hard. For example, if your evaluation indicates you fit best at the NCAA Division II level then sending emails to the coaches at Clemson and Alabama probably isn’t a good idea.
The second step in determining the right colleges is to make sure you qualify academically. Unless you’re a straight A student with stellar standardized test scores this step is very important. If you don’t qualify academically for a college, then an athletic scholarship is not in the cards. A little research on each school website should answer this question quickly.
Finally, the last step just involves your personal preferences. Do you care about school size, area of the country, climate, etc.? If you do, then make sure the colleges you pursue meet those preferences.
An academy award winning recruiting video won’t get you recruited
Believe it or not, an expensive, professionally produced highlight video set to inspirational music isn’t going to land you a college scholarship. College coaches aren’t interested in watching a commercial where you’re the product. Your recruiting video is merely a way for a coach to form an initial impression of your abilities. It’s the first step of the recruiting process. It does not guarantee a scholarship and it won’t make you something you are not. Every college coach that watches your video will be able to decide if they are interested in the first 30-45 seconds. If your video is set to music, they probably won’t even make it to the second stanza, so make sure your best clips are presented first.
Investing the time and money in an Academy Award winning video and believing it will land you a scholarship is just another example of ‘fake recruiting.’ You don’t need to spend a fortune on your recruiting video. In fact, a 10-minute video with the “Rocky” theme song playing in the background might do more harm than good. With modern technology, most smart phone videos will work just fine!
One and done?
Sending one (or two) emails to college coaches and expecting a response is not realistic. If you aren’t willing to contact multiple coaches, multiple times, then you are guilty of ‘fake recruiting.’ Persistence is critical in the college recruiting process. You can’t take it personally if a coach doesn’t respond to your first email. He or she might have been on vacation or just overlooked your initial contact. Follow up with every coach just to show you are serious about their school.
You also have to understand that the more realistic colleges you contact, the better chance you have to land a scholarship. Three responses to ten emails is a pretty good batting average in the recruiting process. Keep in mind that for a coach to respond to your email, he or she has to see your email, open it, read it and have a need at your position. Everything has to line up for you to receive a response from any coach. For that reason, one (or two) emails to college coaches isn’t going to cut it.
Here’s the deal
You can’t afford to be guilty of fake recruiting on any front. Again, if you’re able to plead “not guilty” to all of the above, I like your chances of playing in college.