Recruiting Column: Advice for under-recruited high school seniors

Recruiting Column: Advice for under-recruited high school seniors

High School Sports

Recruiting Column: Advice for under-recruited high school seniors


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.

Well, it’s September. School is back in session, football is upon us and before you know it, the leaves will be gone, and it will be time for Halloween. It’s a good time of the year. But, as much fun as this time of the year can be, it can also be a very stressful time of the year for a certain group of people. Who, you ask? High school seniors. Especially, high school seniors who haven’t committed or received any scholarship offers, yet!

It’s not quite time to freak out, but if you’re a senior who believes you have the talent to play in college, you’ve got to get going, now. The unfortunate reality is that the chances of a college coach suddenly finding you at this point is like trying to find Waldo. You’re just another face in the crowd and something needs to change with your recruiting process.

There are only two possible reasons why coaches aren’t recruiting you yet: (1) They aren’t interested, or (2) they don’t know about you. There’s not much you can do about the first reason, so here’s some advice on how to address the second one. 

Get real

While everyone wants to play football at Alabama or basketball at Duke, your senior year is no time to try and make that your destiny. Your only real hope is to get real.

If you’ve been reaching out to college coaches and they aren’t responding, take the hint and move on. You might need to reassess the kinds of colleges you are contacting. To do that, have an honest conversation with your current coach about your abilities and take his or her input to heart. No matter what their evaluation is, don’t take it personally and just be thankful that they care enough to shoot you straight. You have to concentrate on the colleges that are just as interested in you as you are in them. Plus, it’s a lot more fun and productive when you send an email to a coach and they actually respond. 

Put the work in

Make a commitment to carve out the time necessary to find the right colleges, connect with the coaches and be persistent. This might take you a couple hours per week or it might take longer, but at this point it has to be done religiously.

Since it’s your senior year, you need to start yesterday. First, follow up with any colleges you previously contacted and eliminate the ones that don’t respond. Then, identify at least 20 additional schools that make sense for your athletic and academic abilities and send emails to those colleges also. It’s critical that you personalize your emails. Sending a “canned” email and not addressing the coach by name will get you nowhere. At this point in the recruiting process, college coaches want players who are truly interested in their program.

Get some help

Your current coach can make a huge difference in your recruiting process. If your coach is willing to contact college coaches on your behalf and vouch for your abilities, that goes a long way with a college coach.

If you can, ask your current coach to review your list of colleges before you spend any time contacting the coaches at those schools. Your current coach really needs to agree with the colleges you are pursuing. Then, ask if they are willing to contact a few college coaches on your behalf. Don’t give them dream schools to contact, give them the colleges where you definitely have a chance to make the roster. Give your coach the contact information for the colleges he or she will be contacting and a copy of your athletic/academic resume. This makes it easy for them to talk intelligently about you.

You need video

A clear, concise highlight video is critical if you want to have a chance with a college coach this late in the game. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but you really need to have a short (2-3 minute) video showcasing your athletic abilities. Since you’re a senior, most college coaches don’t have time to visit your games and/or a showcase event you might attend. They need a way to efficiently determine if they are interested in you as a player. Your highlight video can provide that information.

Do what it takes

If emails are not working and your coach can’t get their attention, try Twitter, go on an unofficial visit, and/or just pick up the phone. You need to do whatever it takes to get noticed, because once you’re noticed, you might actually get recruited.


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