Recruiting Column: Morningside College football coach Steve Ryan talks recruiting

Photo: Morningside College Athletics

Recruiting Column: Morningside College football coach Steve Ryan talks recruiting

High School Sports

Recruiting Column: Morningside College football coach Steve Ryan 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.

Photo- Morningside College Athletics

Steve Ryan’s Morningside College football program capped off a 15-0 2018 season by winning the NAIA National Championship. For guiding the Mustangs to their first national title in school history, he was named the NAIA Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. Which, by the way, is the second time he’s won that award during his tenure in Sioux City (IA). And in his 17 seasons at the helm, Coach Ryan’s Morningside program has a record of 170-40. He’s experienced only one losing season, guided Morningside to 12 straight NAIA playoff appearances and nine Great Plains Athletic Conference Championships, including the last eight in a row. In other words, all Coach Ryan does is win, win, win no matter what!

This week, I sat down with Coach Ryan to gain his insight into the college recruiting process. From what you need to know about the recruiting process, to a major red flag he watches for when recruiting a player, here is what he had to say.

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: What’s something every high school athlete should know about the recruiting process?

A: I had two daughters go through the recruiting process. So, it’s not only my job as a coach, but it was my job as a parent to help my daughters figure out what was best for of them. What I told my own kids is what I tell all young men and women. What are the schools you want to go to? Don’t assume that the coaches at those schools know who you are. Take the initiative and reach out to them. In turn, those coaches can take your inquiry seriously and recruit you, or they can delete it. That’s really what it comes down to. If you’re taking the initiative to reach out and let them know how interested you are in their school, then at least you don’t have to wonder “what if” the rest of your life. The reward far outweighs the risk for a recruit to be proactive in this process.

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.

Q: Describe the type of player you recruit into your program.

A: I want guys that are going to work for what they’ve got. I want the guys that want to be a part of the community, that want more than just football. They see bigger than just the here and now. They know where they want to be 10-20 years from now and they can see that our program is what’s going to get them there. Those are the guys that make the best team. Not the guys that it’s all about “me” and who cares about everyone else. I go back to the idea of the guy looking for the best offer. If that’s really all you’re about, you’re most likely not considering the team or the things that matter. And, that’s probably how you approach other things in life. I’m not saying you’re a bad person for doing that, I’m just saying that we can’t win with guys like that.


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