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It goes without saying that physical talent is the primary factor every college coach considers when evaluating a potential recruit. However, after the top two percent of athletes (the “five-star recruits”), there are thousands of high school athletes with similar talents and abilities. The successful college coaches are the ones who know what other characteristics are important to look for in a recruit. Obviously, if you know and understand the other factors that are important to a college coach, you’ll have a much better chance to get recruited.
For that reason, over the last few months we’ve asked many college coaches the following question: “Physical talent aside, what are you looking for in a recruit?” Here are the answers from three of those coaches. Most of the other answers were very similar to these.
South Dakota State football coach John Stiegelmeier
“We have 18 questions that we ask any young man we recruit. They’re tough questions and they go way beyond game film or GPA. And, most of those questions are centered around accountability. Be a leader. We want guys that will take responsibility, whether the outcome is good or bad. Every year, we will only sign 15 or 16 guys, of the roughly 1,200 guys we start out with. The margin of error in making those decisions is very small, so we want to get it right. When you make an investment on a young man, or offer him a scholarship, you’ve got to consider so much more than just football. Ultimately, you’re investing in that young man’s ability to be a good student, a good teammate and his ability to contribute to the community around him.”
Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco
“Obviously, we want “team” guys. We want the guys that believe in the idea of “we” over “me”. The guys that put the team first, regardless of the circumstances, are the ones that want to win. Give me those guys. You know, baseball can be such an individual sport because of the statistics. What’s your ERA? What’s your batting average? And on and on. Then, when you become an elite player, you’re typically at a lot of showcases. You’re playing for those showcase teams where they’re keeping score, but the emphasis is usually centered around the individual performance. That’s something we really have to guard against when we’re out recruiting players. Because unfortunately, that’s just not how you win baseball games. You win games with nine guys, not one guy’s individual performance.”
Yale lacrosse coach Andy Shay
“We try to recruit as much toughness, as possible. More hustle and less show. There’s just no substitute for that mental and physical toughness and that’s what really catches our eye. These days, I would say it’s pretty universal that much of playing a sport is all about flare. You see guys that play with the idea that if it looks cool, then you should do it. Unfortunately, flare isn’t going to get a lot done, at this level. Functional team plays, and consistent effort is what is going to win you games. What it really boils down to is this: we need to recruit the best guys in the country. We want to find guys that are good enough to come in and beat out the guys on our current roster. The longer we’ve been doing this, the harder that gets. But, that’s a great problem to have!”