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.
Over the years we’ve been asked thousands of questions about the college recruiting process. We’ve answered everything from “When does the college recruiting process start” to “Should I let my Uncle Mel call college coaches for me” and everything in between. I understand that the first time you go through the recruiting process is the only time you will go through the process and you will have questions. However, there are some questions that if you think about them you should already know the answers. Here are my top 5 recruiting questions we hear all the time, but the answers should be obvious.
1. Do college coaches really want to hear from me?
Perhaps the best way to answer this question is with a question. Who else would they want to hear from? You’re the one who will be on the team, not your parents, your friends or your teammates. In fact, last year we conducted a nationwide survey and 100% of college coaches said they prefer to hear from the student-athlete, no one else. 100%!! That means every coach we talked to would rather hear from you than anyone else.
Adam Dorrell, the head football coach at Abilene Christian University may have said it best when he told us: “The biggest thing with us is we would like to be contacted by the athlete. It is a major turnoff getting emails from a parent or third party. Quite honestly, we don’t even look at those emails because we know they are going to be slanted or biased. We would really rather have the initial contact come from the athlete or even the high school coach of the athlete.”
2. Why aren’t college coaches recruiting me?
If you’re serious about being a college athlete, you probably have the talent to play at some level. That said, there are many possible reasons why college coaches haven’t “noticed” you yet. Here are my top 4 reasons why you aren’t being recruited (yet) and some quick advice for each one.
- You believe the myth that “if you’re good enough, college coaches will find you.” The truth is that college coaches in most sports have limited recruiting budgets. They can’t afford to travel the country looking for athletes. If you wait around hoping to get recruited, it may never happen, even if you are good enough.
- You believe someone else is taking care of your recruiting process. Here’s a comment we hear all the time. “Oh, we don’t need to worry about contacting colleges, our coach is taking care of that.” I can’t tell you how many times this attitude ends up in disappointment. Don’t count on someone else to take care of your business.
- You aren’t being proactive. Unless you’re a 5-Star athlete, your recruiting process is a numbers game. You have to introduce yourself to college coaches and the more appropriate colleges you reach out to, the better your chances are to find a scholarship.
- You aren’t being realistic. Being realistic about who you are as an athlete and a student is the most important part of the recruiting process. If you aren’t pursuing appropriate colleges, you’re wasting your time.
3. I’m not getting any responses from coaches. What does that mean?
Really? Do you really have to ask this question? While a lack of responses may not mean anything, it probably means the coaches you are contacting don’t have a need at your position, don’t have an interest or their recruiting class is full. Most likely, you are targeting the wrong schools, or they have no way to verify that you are a realistic candidate for their program.
Be certain that the schools you are contacting are a fit for you athletically. It’s okay to pursue dream colleges, but you should primarily pursue realistic colleges and “fallback” colleges. If you contact a school multiple times without a response, then just move on to other options. Don’t take it personally. Not every college coach in the country is going to be interested.
4. If I’m invited to a camp or asked to fill out a questionnaire am I being recruited?
You aren’t being recruited just because you get invited to a camp. The primary purpose of camps is to make money for the school and the coaching staff. There may be legitimate recruits at the camps, but 99 percent of the attendees are not on the school’s “short list” of scholarship candidates.
If you receive a personal letter or email from a college coach asking you to fill out a recruiting questionnaire then you have been noticed, but you aren’t being recruited yet. Being recognized or noticed is the initial stage in earning a scholarship. A good rule of thumb is you are not being recruited unless a college coach specifically contacts you or your coach.
5. Do I need to worry about my grades?
I can’t believe we even get asked this question, but we hear it all the time. First of all, you can’t play for a school if you don’t meet their academic requirements. Second, the more colleges you qualify for academically, the more colleges you can consider athletically.
Third, you have something called a Core Course GPA and it matters. The NCAA Eligibility Center calculates your grade-point average (GPA) based on the grades you earn in NCAA-approved Core Courses. You have to meet the minimum Core Course GPA to be eligible to compete in NCAA sports during your first year of college. And finally, I can guarantee you that your academic record is the first tie-breaker when a college coach is deciding between two athletes with similar abilities. Grades and test scores matter more than most recruits think.
Here’s the deal
Most aspects of the college recruiting process are common sense. If you approach your recruiting journey in a logical manner and really work at it, you will find a college scholarship.