Recruiting Column: Texas A&M-Commerce football coach Colby Carthel talks recruiting

Photo: Texas A&M-Commerce Athletics

Recruiting Column: Texas A&M-Commerce football coach Colby Carthel talks recruiting

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: Texas A&M-Commerce football coach Colby Carthel talks recruiting


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 This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. 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.

Colby Carthel’s coaching theory goes like this: to be a champion on the field, you must be a champion off the field. We know that an observation can be used to prove a statement, given that you can put it in the form: “If, and only if, theory X is true, then you will observe Y.” In this case, “X” is being a champion on the field, and “Y” is being a champion off the field.

So, is his coaching theory, right? Well, in five seasons at the helm of the A&M-Commerce football program, Coach Carthel has a record of 49-15. They’ve been to the postseason five times. His Lions have won three Lone Star Conference Championships. And, with a 37-27 win against West Florida about three weeks ago, Texas A&M-Commerce is this year’s NCAA Division II National Champion. I’m no scientist, but my observations tell me that whether we’re talking on the field, off the field or anywhere in between the field, Coach Carthel and his A&M-Commerce Lions are champions!

This week I had the privilege of talking with Colby Carthel. From the impact social media has on recruiting, to mistakes recruits should avoid making, here is what he had to say.

Q: What advice do you have for a high school player not getting much attention from college coaches?

A: I think the question that high school player needs to ask himself is, “Where am I not getting the attention from?” If you can just honestly answer that question, you’ll have a better understanding of where you probably belong. I firmly believe there’s an appropriate college level for every football player, beyond high school. But, you’ve got to be real with yourself. Do the math; there aren’t enough scholarships to go around. Not every kid in America is going to play for Alabama.

The key to being recruited is going where you’re wanted. Honestly assessing your own abilities is going to point you in the right direction and will most likely lead you to the schools that will reciprocate your interest. Who should be recruiting you? That’s really the question that needs to be answered.

Q: What are your thoughts on the impact social media has had on college recruiting?

A: 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.

Photo: Texas A&M-Commerce Athletics

Q: What mistakes should a student-athlete avoid during the college recruiting process?

A: The main thing coaches want out of recruits, is honesty. Be truthful with us. Be honest about your goals and what you want to get out of the recruiting process. Be honest about your injuries. When it comes to answering questions about your performance, tell the truth. Often, we see guys get so caught up in the moment. They try to be someone they’re not. And, that’s not what we want!

Here’s the deal: we are going to do our digging. If we’re serious enough to recruit you, you better believe we are going to find out exactly who you are. We’re going to talk to your coaches. We’re going to talk to your teachers. Your classmates. We’re going to check your social media. And do us a favor, don’t clean up your Twitter account. I always hear coaches telling kids to clean it up on social media. I say, don’t. Because, if you’re different to us, then you are on your Twitter feed, we want to find that out! We want to know the real you.

Q: What should high school athletes know about the NCAA Division II level?

A: Playing football here means something. Starting here means something. This is a very high level of football and I think many high school athletes miss on that because we don’t get the same TV-time as the Division I level. Many of the guys making an impact at the D II level go on to the NFL (90 players on 2017 NFL rosters, according to

It’s also important to understand that “full-rides” don’t exist at this level. We have 36 full athletic scholarships, with a roster size 3x that number. If you get a scholarship to play football at a D II school, it’s going to be a partial scholarship. That said, kids preparing to play at the next level need to be aware of those numbers. Your goal as a student-athlete should be to get the best financial aid package, possible. The kind of money you get doesn’t matter. Get what you can athletically, yes. But, be a great student. Perform your best in the classroom. Because, that will open many other financial opportunities for you.

Q: How do you account for all the success your program has had over the last 5 years?

I always tell recruits, “You can’t be a champion on the field, if you’re not a champion off the field.” So many guys can play this game. There are so many talented kids playing football throughout this country. But, that’s not what success is about. It’s not just about being a good football player. It’s about being a good person. Someone with high character.

Here at A&M-Commerce, it’s about people. We have high character individuals in our football program, our athletic department, our administration, our campus and our community. It’s a given that we’re going to recruit nothing less. And, we’re going to win at bringing the right guys in. When you surround yourself with good people, good things are going to happen.

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