Recruiting Column: Do this to land on a college coach’s radar

Recruiting Column: Do this to land on a college coach’s radar

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: Do this to land on a college coach’s radar


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 This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. 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.

Every. Single. Day. Athletes everywhere ask us the same question. Without a doubt, this is the question that is asked the most during the college recruiting process: “How do I land on a college coach’s radar?” And, understandably so. Because, getting a college coach to notice you for the first time, is essentially what makes you a recruit. It’s the million-dollar question.

For all you high school athletes out there wondering what it takes to get noticed by a college program, consider this a public service announcement. When we asked some of the best coaches in the country what it takes to land on their radars, here is what they had to say.

-John Stiegelmeier, South Dakota State Football

It’s through their high school coach. It really is that simple for us. High school coaches are the lifeblood to college football. We honor and take the relationships we have them very seriously. If a high school coach wants us to look at one of their guys, we’re going to put sometime into evaluating that young man. We will definitely communicate our assessment and feelings about the player and make sure that high school coach is getting what he needs from us. Without a doubt, if you want to land on our radar, have your high school coach reach out to us.

-Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe, James Madison Women’s Lacrosse

You have to take personal responsibility for this process. Whether that’s sending us an email, calling us or whatever, it’s your job to let us know you’re interested. It’s on you to make yourself known. Listen, there are so many talented lacrosse players in this country. It would be impossible for us to discover every young lady who has the potential of playing at JMU. Additionally, if you think we’ll just notice you playing in a tournament with 500 other players, you’re not doing yourself any favors. That’s an extremely challenging way of getting yourself recruited, because you’ve got stand out and you’ve got to do it at the right time! It’s much more efficient to do the work, communicate and prepare yourself to be noticed by coaches. Then when the time comes, you’re giving yourself the best chances of being evaluated by the right coaches, at the right schools.

-Andy Bronkema, Ferris State Men’s Basketball

We need to see you live, plain and simple. Whether that’s seeing you in a game or at a camp, we’ve got to see you with our own eyes. Yes, if we watch a highlight video that we like, it’s obviously going to get our attention. But unless you’ve got 6’10” listed in your subject line, emailing us is a terrible way to get our attention. We just don’t check our emails looking for recruits. That’s not how we identify players. We get out and we watch basketball. The great majority of the time, we’re out there finding the talent; the talent isn’t finding us.

-Andy Shay, Yale Men’s Lacrosse

The best way to be seen by our coaching staff is to come to our prospect day. Really, it’s the only way that you can guarantee that we’ll see you. Unfortunately, there will be 100 kids at our prospect day and a large portion of those players aren’t going to end up here. That’s just the reality of recruiting. But, if you do show up to our prospect day, it’s a guarantee that we will see you and be able to evaluate your chances of playing at Yale. And, as a recruit, that’s all you can ask for. You should want to be seen. The alternative is the slim chance that we will see you at a tournament, with 80 other teams. That’s just not very likely.

-Dale Wellman, Nebraska Wesleyan Men’s Basketball

I think the most important piece of any recruit getting our attention is making sure that we’ve got your schedule. We want to see you on the court, in those game settings. So, let us know where you’re playing and when you’re playing. We’re very strategic about how we spend our time evaluating guys and we make every effort to be efficient, in seeing as many players as we possibly can, in one setting.

Additionally, you need to make yourself very accessible. As a staff, we aren’t going to inundate you with phone calls, emails or text messages. But, we will be very straight forward with our communications and expectations. And, we expect the same from you. I’m not saying you need to respond within an hour of something we send, but you certainly should display a level of urgency in responding that signals to us you’re truly interested in NWU.

-Vince Kehres, Mount Union Football

We get so many emails from services and individual kids, we’re literally inundated with those communications, every day. And, you just become numb to those after a while. If I spent my day following up on every email we get, we’d never get anything done. So, that’s certainly not the best way to go about getting our attention. To be effective, it needs to be more personal for us to really take notice of any player. I think the easiest way to get our attention is by way of the high school or AAU coach. If we’re getting a call on a player from a coach, that usually means something. It’s personal when a coach is willing to pick up the phone and talk to us about one of their players.

-Dan Stratford, Charleston Men’s Soccer

The first communication, from kids we end up recruiting, is almost always over email. The most important thing for a recruit to understand, in that regard, is that time is always a factor for us. So, you need to get to the point, quite efficiently. And then, the quality of footage and the quality of your highlight video becomes the next most important thing. You need to grab our attention in the first 90 seconds, if not before that. The footage is such a critical piece when you’re wanting to make that great, initial impression.

Understanding how important that footage can be, is something many recruits miss on. We see a lot of mistakes on those videos, that I think neither the player, or the people helping them put the video together really consider. They don’t consider what that footage looks like through the eyes of a coach. They end up putting highlights on there, that aren’t really highlights.

For example, players often think that it’s an absolute necessity to add any goal they’ve scored. They don’t consider the quality of the goal or what the circumstances behind the goal may have been. Who was the goal against? What were the other players in the video doing? Was it a goal resulting from poor defense? Subtle things like that are what we’re seeing, not just the perceived highlight.

-Brady Starkey, Concordia St. Paul Volleyball

The best way for a potential recruit to get our attention is for them to personally email us themselves. We get a lot of emails from recruiting services. Usually half of those end up in our spam box and they typically get deleted. We want a kid who addresses us personally, has done a little homework on our program and university and includes those specifics in their email.


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