The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
Over the years we’ve had the unique opportunity to talk with hundreds of college coaches at every level of competition. Every conversation provides with unique insight into how college coaches evaluate players and how the recruiting process really works. Getting noticed by college coaches is the first step to getting recruited by college coaches. Talent is certainly at the top of the list, but there are many other characteristics that college coaches notice about potential recruits. Here’s some great advice from three current college coaches on what it takes for a student-athlete to be noticed by their coaching staff.
Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook
“The first thing is that they must be exceptional at something. Of course, we look for the players that jump the highest, or hit the ball the hardest. In other words, the athletes. But really, we’re looking to find the best passers, the best servers or the best setters. Because to play at this level, you’ve got to be able to do something exceptional. The next thing that will get our attention is based on a look and feel for a student-athlete.
“Once you see the talent, then it’s all about how they play, how they compete and how they interact on the court. Those are the things that will separate an average player from the best player. And, the last thing that we pay attention to is the kind of student a player is. It’s important for us to recruit good students, because typically good students are making good decisions, daily. Good students are disciplined, they do their homework and usually have great time-management skills. If they’re making great decisions all week long in the classroom, they’re probably going to make great decisions in a match when it matters most.”
Washington softball coach Heather Tarr
“The talent piece is first. You have to be good enough to even be considered to play at UW, or any major Division I school, for that matter. Listen, it takes serious physical talent to compete at this level. You should be at a point that you know you’re one of the very best players in your area, wherever you’re from. It shouldn’t be a question or something you’re unsure of.
“I tell young players all the time that you can’t force someone to like you. That’s especially true for the recruiting process. If you’re wanting to play for your dream school, try to get that school to tell you no. Reach out to the program, have your high school or travel coach make a call. Figure out if you have a legitimate chance to be recruited and if you aren’t getting a no, then continue to pursue the opportunity. Go to camps, send video and emails. And if you do get a no, be thankful for the answer, because you can move on to other opportunities.”
LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri
“You’ve got to have a good amount of skill, first and foremost. We really like recruiting and filling our roster with guys that can do multiple things well. They’re athletes. If you’re a position player, we’re looking for guys that can square the baseball up, play with excellent defensive skill and run the bases well. We like the guys that have the physical skills and the instincts to match.
“The second thing that we look for is a player who exhibits a true love for playing the game. A lot of kids will tell you that they love to play, but when you go out and watch them, it’s pretty evident that they don’t. They’re virtually walking on and off the field. They’re not hustling. In the later innings of the game, they’re not paying as much attention as they were earlier in the game. Those are the kinds of things we’re paying attention to. You know, if I see a player not running hard on the easy outs, not taking big turns on a routine fly ball or not backing up bases, I’m eliminating that player from consideration for playing at LSU. You’ve got to project a genuine love for playing the game if you want to be a Tiger.
“The last piece we’re looking for, and probably the most important, is how well a young man performs in the classroom. We’re going to be more apt to recruiting the kids that are good students in high school, than the ones that aren’t. Because the commitment and dedication it takes to be a good student in high school translates very well at the collegiate level. If you were to ask most student-athletes if they enjoyed school, I would guess that most would say they probably don’t. They just know it’s something they have to do. So, if a young man makes a commitment to perform academically, then it shows he’s willing to make sacrifices and he carries the work ethic required to be successful at this level.”