Recruiting Column: Advice from national champions

Photo- Valdosta State Athletics

Recruiting Column: Advice from national champions

High School Sports

Recruiting Column: Advice from national champions


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.

(Photo- Valdosta State Athletics)

May was an awesome month for our coach interviews. 3 conversations, 3 national champions! From what red flags a coach pays attention to when watching a player, to advice on picking the right school, we covered a lot of what college coaches are looking for and what they expect during the recruiting process. Here are some of the highlights from the last month.

-Gary Goff, Valdosta State Football (NCAA Division II)

 Q: Give me an example of a red flag you notice when recruiting a young man.

A: I want to see a young man look me in the eye when I’m speaking to him. Is he genuine? Does he seem interested in what we’re talking about? I try to pick up on the respect levels they show their parents or grandparents when they’re on a visit. You know, moms usually do a great job of asking the questions that matter! How does he react to his mom and her genuine concerns for her son? If he’s telling her to stop asking questions and disregarding what she has to say, that’s a major red flag.

Q: What is something about the recruiting process you would want families to know?

A: I think families need to understand that at the NCAA Division II level, we’re on a limited recruiting budget. For example, we just won the National Championship in Texas, but we’re not on the ground recruiting in Texas! That’s just how it is. So, if you want us to know who you are, you need to figure out a way to get in front of us. That starts with film. And with how easy Hudl makes it to get film out, that’s probably the easiest way to do it. Send us an email and let us know you’re interested. I can promise you this: if you can play, we will be replying to your email. And once we start that communication process, we’ll figure out together what the next steps need to be.

(Photo- Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

-Ben McCollum, Northwest Missouri State Men’s Basketball (NCAA Division II)

 Q: How can a recruit get on your radar?

A: If you’re wanting to get on our radar, make it personal. Reach out to us, as an individual. That makes things so much easier for us in understanding who we’re dealing with. Practically speaking, let us know why you’re interested and send your game film, stats and other information.

But it boils down to that personalized touch.

If you’re doing your homework on figuring out the level that is right for you, it’s simply making the effort to introduce yourself. After that, it’s pretty easy to get a feel whether a program is interested in you or not.

Q: What advice do you have for recruit deciding on which school to pick?

A: Pick the school, that if you didn’t play a second, you would still be happy. You would be happy with your teammates. You would be happy with the coaches and you would be happy with the institution. Trust your gut and pay attention to what the coaches are actually saying when they’re recruiting you.

For example, if a coach is telling you how much you’re going to play, they’re lying. We don’t know how a kid is going to fit in with our program until he is actually on our campus and playing for us.

Be careful with how much emotion you let into this process. And, do the best you can to commit to a school where you’re all in, regardless of your playing situation.

(Photo- Morningside College Athletics)

Steve Ryan, Morningside College Football (NAIA)

 Q: Talk about how unique the college recruiting process is for each athlete.

A: Everybody wants something different. The reason why you want to be in a program, isn’t the same reason the next person wants to be in that same program. The experience you want isn’t going to be the same experience the other recruit wants. Maybe you want to do whatever it takes to get to the professional level, and the next guy just wants to enjoy the competition at the college level, focus on his degree and make lifelong friends. Whatever the circumstances might be, the college experiences are going to be different. Therefore, you’ve got to focus on your circumstances during the recruiting process. What is it that you’re trying to accomplish? What do you want your experience to be? You can’t get caught up in trying to be like everyone else while you’re being recruited, because you won’t be like everyone else once you’re on campus.

Q: Are there any major red flags you pay attention to in the recruiting process?

A: Probably one of the worst things we can hear from a recruit is that he’s going to go with the best offer. We will pull off recruiting a guy if we hear that or get the sense that his decision is going to be based solely on a dollar amount. For example, if a kid in Texas tells me he wants to come up to Iowa because Morningside is $1,000 less than a school in Texas, that’s a major red flag. So, you’re going to drive back and forth 600 miles over a $1,000 difference? It will take that kid two weeks to realize that the decision he made wasn’t worth $1,000. My point is this: making a college decision based solely on a dollar value is a bad idea. If we have to buy you as a program, you’re never going to be happy here. The best teams aren’t buying kids.


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