Recruiting Column: What college coaches look for in a recruit

Recruiting Column: What college coaches look for in a recruit

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: What college coaches look for in a recruit


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 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.

Over the last 10 years I’ve had the opportunity to talk recruiting with college coaches all over the country. I’ve been able to “pick the brains” of some coaching greats. In every conversation, I always try to learn something new or walk away with a different perspective, and usually I do!

Although the approach to recruiting sounds a little different with each coach, the fundamental message is always consistent, especially when we discuss what they look for in a recruit. So, what exactly is it that these college coaches are looking for? What do they want to see and what exactly do they expect? For all of you high school athletes wondering, here is what college coaches look for in a recruit.

In the classroom

College coaches want, expect and need you to be a good student. Monopoly money… consider that to be the value of your scholarship offer if you can’t get accepted by the school’s admissions office. Being a good student with good grades will open more doors than athletics ever will. Conversely, not getting it done in classroom is the deadbolt lock on the door of college opportunity. Can you imagine losing a chance to play for your “dream college” because you didn’t qualify academically?  It happens all the time.

In most cases, being an academically disciplined recruit shows:

  • You are well-rounded and have balance in your life.
  • You take pride in all aspects of your life.
  • You can most likely be trusted off the field.
  • You can successfully manage your time.
  • You probably have a good on-field IQ.

The “perfect recruit” would be the one that cares equally as much about their academic career, as they do their athletic career. 

On the field

I’m not sure I really need to say this, but the “perfect recruit” has some athletic ability! College coaches first take notice of you because of your physical abilities. They want to see that you can compete at their level, without physical limitations. There is no way to avoid that. If you’re interested enough in college recruiting to read this article, then let’s assume that you physically have what a college coach is looking for. Keep in mind that doesn’t necessarily mean your scholarship is in the bag.

The “perfect recruit” that coaches dream of:

  • Leads by example in practice, in the weight room and during games.
  • Cares about his/her teammates.
  • Always puts the team first.
  • Consistently gives maximum effort.
  • Respects the game, coaches and officials.

Physical talent is certainly something you need to possess to become a college athlete. Add these other qualities to the mix and you are going to be very appealing to college coaches.

Off the field

There is a huge difference between coaching and babysitting. Coaching is about developing talent, being a leader and motivating the team. Babysitting includes changing diapers, monitoring behavior and being on alert 24/7.  College coaches aren’t interested in babysitting their athletes.

It is really pretty simple; the “perfect recruit” off the field:

  • Respects all authority-figures.
  • Honorably represents their family, team, coaches and institution.
  • Doesn’t misuse social media.
  • Stays out of trouble and obeys the law.
  • Understands what a privilege it is to be a student-athlete.

Here is some “off the field” advice to live by: If you want a good reputation and want good things to happen in your life, do good things! If you don’t care about doing things the right way, you really don’t belong in college athletics!

Here’s the deal 

My good friend, the late Brooks Thompson, a former NBA player and Division I college basketball coach, may have said it best when he told me, “My coaching staff watches players from the time they step off the bus until the time they get back on the bus. We watch how they warm up, how they interact with their teammates, how they handle themselves in competition, how they win and how they lose. We evaluate the entire package, we don’t just look at the box score.”

College coaches pay attention to every aspect of any recruit they are interested in. You need to be mindful of your behavior and actions on the field, off the field and in the classroom.


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