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 Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. Playced.com 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.
So, Joe Urso is one of the best baseball coaches in America. How else do you introduce a man that has a career record of 831-242-1? Who has 13 conference titles, 11 NCAA South Regional championships and oh by the way, 5 NCAA Division II National Championships to his credit? Coach Urso has forgotten more about the game of baseball than most coaches ever learn. Fresh off a 2019 national title, seriously, how else do you introduce Coach Urso other than one of the best in the business?
This week I sat down with Joe Urso, head baseball coach at the University of Tampa to talk recruiting. From what camps a player should attend, to what he wants high school baseball players to know about the recruiting process, here is what he had to say.
Q: When do you start paying attention to prospective student-athletes?
A: We move a lot later than most schools. I think that’s just because we are at the NCAA Division II level and there’s kind of an order to recruiting. Usually, the D I schools are getting their commitments first, and we fall into the next window. And then, we even go slower than most D II’s and typically wait to offer guys until summer before their senior year, or even the fall of their senior year. The reason we wait so long is because we want to make sure that Tampa is the right fit for any young man we sign. In my opinion, so much can change from sophomore to senior year of high school. We certainly don’t want kids that just want to commit to say they committed. We want the guys that want to be in our program, help us win and continue the legacy we’ve established here.
Q: How can a high school baseball player pick the right camps to attend?
A: You know, it’s being realistic with your ability and trying to find that right fit. For example, if you’re a D-II talent, you probably don’t want to be going to the University of Florida’s camp thinking that they’re going to pull you to the side to give you an offer. You want to be realistic with your ability and get to a place that’s going to be a fit for you. You’ve got to get to the right camp to be seen by the schools that might actually want to offer you. Maybe if I’m a high-academic kid, there are academic camps out there that would be a better fit for me than attending a certain top 100 camp. Take a look in the mirror. If you’re being realistic with your ability and where you belong, the sky’s the limit.
Q: What’s something every high school baseball player should know about the college recruiting process?
A: There’s a place for everyone to play. You just need to do your homework to find that place. The internet is a great place to start! If you’re a shortstop, do your research on your dream program. And, if they have an All-American shortstop that’s only a sophomore, well, you can start to put the puzzle together in how you might fit in. Make sure that you’re getting to a school where you’re going to want to graduate from. We tell all our guys that academics are number one. We all know that every one of these kids have dreamed of playing the big leagues since they were five. That’s a great dream and go for it. But this is one of the toughest sports to make it to the top. Baseball is going to come to an end. So, get to that place where you can get your degree and let the baseball part take its natural course.
Q: Do you pay attention to the parents of a player you’re recruiting?
A: It’s something you hear a lot when you’re out recruiting. You know, the parents that are too involved or who can be high maintenance. Yes, we pay attention to parents. It’s really no different than if you’re recruiting two centerfielders who are pretty close in talent and one has a 3.5 GPA and the other one has a 2.5. What direction do you think we’re going to go on that? Obviously, you’ve got to get the better student to make your job easier when they’re here. You don’t want to be babysitting. And, the same thing could be said for two guys who are close in talent and one has a parent acting poorly and the other doesn’t. We recruit everything. This is going to come to your program, so you want to make sure you’re bringing in the right family.