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.
Social Media. It’s where we go to get our news. It’s how we communicate with our friends. It’s what we do to waste time while we stand in line at McDonald’s. Heck, we use it to do just about anything these days. In fact, you probably found this article through one of the apps you have downloaded on your phone! Like it or not, social media plays an enormous role in our day-to-day lives. And if you’re a high school athlete, I can guarantee you it’s going to play an enormous role in your college recruiting process.
Just how important a role does social media play in the college recruiting process? Here’s what some of the best football coaches in the country had to say when I asked them that very question.
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
It’s information that’s available to us, so it’s information we include in our evaluation process. We have people on our football staff that track every one of our players and every one of our recruits. I remind our guys every week about that. I just tell our guys to stay off social media! Especially, if you can’t behave. I have three sons and I tell them the same things. I just don’t understand how taking a picture of what you’re doing and presenting it for the whole world to see makes any sense. Why would you do something questionable and incriminate yourself by posting about it? That kind of behavior has certainly cost some young men an opportunity to play football at Oklahoma State.
Jeff Scott, Clemson
Social media is a huge part of the recruiting process. It allows us to get our brand in front of potential recruits and families that are interested in learning more about Clemson. I can remember 7 or 8 years ago when a prospect would come on campus, it was really the first time they were meeting coaches, seeing facilities and learning about your program. Now, prospects know a ton about Clemson before they even step foot on campus. They have a great feel for what we are all about because of what they see on social media.
Social media is also a great way to communicate and learn more about the prospects we are recruiting. At Clemson, we have an entire office whose sole duty is to go through the social media of our prospects. It’s extremely important for us to understand who we are dealing with. That office will look through the content and report to our coaching staff on what they are finding. Every year, we will eliminate prospects on our board because of questionable content. We’ve eliminated guys for inappropriate language, images, retweets or anything that we see as a red flag. Conversely, guys have moved up on our board because of the positive things we are able to learn through the various social media channels. It serves as a tremendous resource for us.
Troy Calhoun, Air Force
There are so many good indicators regarding maturity, and the respect and dignity you’re showing others. Now, you can essentially form a pretty good character opinion on a recruit before you even meet them in person. Unfortunately, all it takes is one negative post to deter a coach from recruiting you. I think young men and women need to understand that there’s going to be some liability they will incur when they make a mistake on social media. And, those mistakes can not only impact your recruiting experience, they can also impact the rest of your life.
Vince Kehres, Mount Union
Social media makes the recruiting process so much more immediate. Recruits and coaches have much easier access to each other now, than ever before. Literally, you can hear about a guy one minute, and the next, you can find anything and everything you want to find on him. Whether that’s evaluating the type of player he is by watching some game film you found online, or it’s trying to figure out the kind of a kid he is by what he’s doing on social media, the information is there. And, it’s there for both sides.
Colby Carthel, Texas A&M-Commerce
Social media has turned college recruiting into something it’s not. It’s tarnished the process because now, it’s all about signing. It’s all about making that decision public. I think kids feel rushed to decide, so they can be like everyone else. It’s more about tweeting out who made you an offer, than finding a school that’s the right fit. That’s the world we live in now, unfortunately. Why kids need to receive false justification, or affirmation, from a bunch of people that don’t really care about them anyway, makes no sense to me. That’s not what this is about.