Monday, July 8, 2024

What Do College Football Recruiters Look For

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Theres a common denominator with every coach at every school in the country: Coaches want full support and commitment from their administration. Whether its as big-picture as facility work or immediate as a recruiting budget, its difficult for coaches to operate without resources.

Tennessee spent $2.4 million on recruiting in the 2012-13 fiscal year. Kentucky spent $1.7 million. Ole Miss spent $1.2 million. Mississippi State spent just over $1 million.

Theres a wide range of recruiting budgets throughout the country, but the expenses are generally universal: Mail, coaching visits and official visits.

Earlier this year, Kentucky grabbed headlines when it sent 182 letters in one day to 372-pound defensive lineman Matt Elam.

One American Athletic Conference coach, however, downplays certain aspects of an engorged recruiting budget.

People can out-mail you and out-propaganda you through spending dollars, the coach says. Theres always someone out there with a bigger stick.

A long expense sheet in recruiting doesnt always correlate to a huge recruiting class, just as a more modest budget doesnt doom a program to mediocrity. Florida State, for instance, spent a hair over $1 million less than most of the SEC and still finished with the No. 4-ranked recruiting class, according to Rivals.

How The Ncaa Recruiting Rules Recruiting Calendar And Recruiting Periods Impact This Timeline

The NCAA recruiting calendar and related recruiting rules are meant to mandate the types of communication that athletes and college coaches can have, outline dates for specific communication and protect elite athletes from receiving an overwhelming amount of communication from college coaches. When these rules and periods are laid out for each sport, they create a recruiting calendar during which different periods allow certain types of recruiting activity. Here are the major periods:

  • Evaluation period: college coaches can watch an athlete in person or visit their school. Coaches are not allowed to have in-person contact with the athlete or their parents. During this time, student-athletes usually focus on the following:
  • Highlight and recruiting videos: Recruiting videos help potential recruits to get on the recruiting radar of college coaches. Coaches rarely start to seriously consider a recruit until they have evaluated their recruiting video.
  • Attending camps, showcases and tournaments: Evaluating recruiting videos is an important step for college coaches, but it is always preferable to see recruits compete in person. College coaches put a big emphasis on attending events for top recruits.
  • School visits: Its important for athletes to get a feel for the campus that they are hoping to attend and for college coaches to get a feel for athletes carry themselves. This is where school visits come in.

College Coaches Sign Athletes And Ensure Academic Eligibility

The last step for college coaches is ensuring that each recruit signs with their program and meets eligibility requirements. Heres how the committing and signing timeline works in most cases:

  • The athlete verbally commits to the school.
  • The college coach extends an official offer.
  • The athlete signs the official offer.
  • The athlete continues to meet eligibility requirements by taking all the necessary core courses and receiving the required GPA in those courses.

Unfortunately, every year, there are athletes who have signed with a college but end their senior year ineligible to compete at the college level. This leaves both the athlete and the coach in a tough spot. The coach will need to go back to their list of top prospects and see if the athlete who ranked number two in that spot is still available, interested and academically eligible. The former recruit will likely need to compete for a year or two at a junior college to gain academic eligibility.

What this means for you: While its easy to get caught up in the rush of athletic recruiting and signing with a school, you still need to make sure that you stay academically eligible. If youre concerned at all that you may not be able to meet the requirements, meet with your guidance counselor to go over what grades you need to meet in your core courses and strategize a way to get there.

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When Does The Recruiting Process Begin

The recruiting process actually begins before a student-athlete has had any recruiting interaction with a college coach. Some sports, like track and field and cross country, tend to recruit closer to senior year of high school when coaches have a better idea of athletes development. Other sports, like womens gymnastics, recruit closer to freshman or sophomore year of high school because athletes develop so quickly. Additionally, for most Division 1 and Division 2 sports, coaches can only start proactively reaching out to recruits June 15 after their sophomore year or September 1 of their junior year. But student-athletes can partake in early recruiting by reaching out to college coaches with emails, video, transcripts, coaches just cant respond until the rules say they can.

Even though some sports recruit earlier than others and there are recruiting rules that restrict activity, its never too early for student-athletes to research colleges, maintain their grades, update their recruiting video and prepare themselves to hit the ground running when theyre allowed to freely communicate with college coaches. Student-athletes should be ready to get recruited whenever an opportunity presents itself and not scramble to catch up with the rest of their class when recruiting activity is already happening.

How Do I Send My Recruiting Package To Coaches

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  • Make your own website. Its relatively easy and inexpensive these days. Include everything on the website and send it electronically.
  • Place the videos and other information on Youtube and send it electronically.
  • Place your game highlights on Hudl. All colleges now subscribe to Hudl and its easy access to you.
  • Make a hard copy DVD and mail it to your top 10 or 20 choices along with the other information. Few prospects still do this and it makes you stand out.
  • After sending the video follow up to your top choices with a phone call and/or an email in two weeks. Dont be shy. The follow up contact shows genuine interest in the program and, again, makes you stand out. The theme of the message is. Hi coach, Im contacting you to see if you received my game highlights and charted kicks video. I am very excited to hear what you thought of it.Keep a record of all contacts, mailings, emails, etc.

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    Make Each Game Your Best

    Once you’ve thrown your hat in the ring to be considered as one of the high school football recruits, expect scouts to show up and watch you play. They usually won’t tell you they are coming because they want to see the real you. For this reason, make each game your absolute best. Avoid any conflict with the coach and players because you’ll never know who is watching. Even if you’re the best player, bad sportsmanship won’t earn you any points with college coaches. They don’t want to deal with a difficult player in the fall.

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    A prospect may or may not be able to make it to Nebraska for an unofficial visit but this way, at least, hell know exactly what the school has to offer.

    We do have a lot of contacts throughout the country, Els says. We develop those relationships and the trust factor and send kids as much information as possible so that they can realize just what a special place we have here.

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    Find Out How College Football Scholarships Work

    Scholarships are available for collegiate football players at the NCAA Division 1 FBS, Division 1 FCS and Division 2 levels, as well as at NAIA colleges and junior colleges. D1 FBS schools can give out a maximum of 85 full-ride only scholarships, D1 FCS schools can distribute 63 scholarships and D2 coaches can offer a maximum of 36 scholarships. The limit for NAIA is 24 scholarships and junior colleges can offer up to 85 scholarships. Outside of the D1 FBS levelwhich is only allowed to give out full-ridesathletes can receive a partial scholarship, which pays for a percentage of their tuition. We explain more about scholarship opportunities, how they are divided up and how D3 athletes can find scholarship dollars.

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    Led by the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the nation’s most dominant defensive player, Alabama is USA TODAY Sports’ pick for No. 1 in our way-too-early glimpse at next season’s Top 25.

    After knocking off the Crimson Tide to claim the program’s first national championship since 1980, Georgia comes in at No. 3. The two SEC juggernauts sandwich No. 2 Ohio State, which has loads of skill talent on offense to go with a new defensive coordinator.

    Rounding out the top 10 are Clemson, Texas A& M, Oklahoma, Utah, Michigan, Notre Dame and Iowa.

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    Visit Colleges And Phone Coaches

    Athletes can make an unlimited number of unofficial visits to prospective colleges. If you’re really interested in a particular program, make an effort to show your interest and stop by to talk with the coaches at the college. This is most effective after you’ve sent the college coach your media kit. It is also a good idea to remind college coaches throughout the season of your interest with personal phone calls from a parent. Be cordial, polite, and sincere with every communication persistence pays off as long as it’s not at the cost of being pesky.

    An Offer Is Not An Offer Until The Loi Is Signed

    Its an instant-information, instant-gratification recruiting world we live in, and nothing has proven to be more ambiguous than the scholarship offer. Prospects get lost in coach-speak and half-hearted overtures, oftentimes confusing interest for a concrete, all-expenses-paid invitation to join the program.

    In taking steps to avoid misinterpretation, assistant coaches Mark Elder and Darrell Dickey say they try to be as crystal-clear as humanly possible.

    We dont deal in committable vs. non-committable, Elder says. Were not offering someone that on the same day. Thats not how we do business.

    Dickey, the former head coach at North Texas, says he tried to avoid casting an overly-large net knowing he had only 25 spots to fill.

    Theres places out there that have 150 offers out and only so many spots, Dickey says. I never felt very comfortable having thousands of offers out there and then all of a sudden youve got to tell kids you cant take them.

    Theres an important difference, however, between rescinding an offer and a prospect being misled.

    Unlike in basketball, where coaches can afford to ride out an elite-level prospects recruitment until the end due to smaller numbers on the roster, the task for college football coaches is more complex. Every year, theres a set number of holes to fill. If a prospect waits too long and a school takes another player at the same position, its not that he was lied to about having an offer he was simply beaten to the spot.

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    Early Commitments Arent Always Firm Commitments

    Tennessee assistant coach Mark Elder likens committing early to a college as, say, an underclassman to getting married at 19. It might work if youve found the right person. But, more than likely, you havent had enough life experience to know if youve found the right person.

    If Elder were a relationship therapist, he would recommend more relationships. Since hes a college football coach, he recommends that a prospect take as many visits as possible before settling down.

    If youve got a kid willing to commit that hasnt been a lot of places and is just sort of wanting to commit to the best place hes seen to that point, its too early, Elder says. You havent seen places and you havent had the experience.

    Those are the prospects, Elder says, who get cold feet though there are exceptions. Legacies and local players who grew up Volunteer fans are always welcome. It varies case-by-case when Tennessee makes the decision whether to accept an underclassman commitment, they properly vet the committing party beforehand.

    Early commitments can be very beneficial, especially if you can get a guy who can get involved in recruiting other kids, he says. The tough part is if you dont feel its a strong one if its more reservation than commitment he can be difficult to hang on to for a long time.

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    Students must complete 16 core courses according to the NCAAs specifications and timeline earn at least a 2.3 GPA in those core courses meet the sliding scale requirement of GPA and ACT or SAT test score, which requires a higher SAT or ACT score if a student-athlete has a lower GPA and graduate from high school.

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    College Coaches Find Players Through Questionnaires

    Many college athletic websites have a questionnaire for interested prospects. Always fill those out.

    The two ways to get on my radar are to fill out our online questionnaire and to follow up with an email. When a high school athlete takes the time to send an email with their contact information, personal best marks, and academic information etc. it means they are serious about considering Duke as a potential university. Coach Rhonda Riley, Womens Cross Country Duke University

    How Do I Get Recruited

    Realize that academics are # 1. Often, the first question a college recruiter will ask me is.Can I get him accepted?. You cant play if you dont clear the NCAA Eligibility Centers or NAIAs requirements. Coaches look for solid student athletes. They are wary of players that may become academically ineligible or need constant academic supervision. If two players of equal ability are being recruited for the same position the best student will be chosen in a heartbeat.

    Seek out the very best coaching possible for your position whether its a coach on your team, National Kicking Service, or another reputable program. Become a student of your skill. Train hard and smart. Be efficient in your workouts on the field and in the weight room. Always have a plan and stick with it. If possible, find a training partner in your skill and train together as much as possible. Always training alone in a vacuum deprives a player of outside feedback and the camaraderie of the position.

    Obviously, exceptional performance is necessary to showcase your skill. Recording those performances clearly is of the highest priority. That leads us to the next section.

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    College Coaches Find Players Through Phone Calls

    Dont be afraid to personally call coaches. Make sure you consult NCAA and NAIA recruiting regulations as each division has its own rules. You can call at any time, but depending upon the division and your year in high school, coaches may not be able to respond. If a coach doesnt respond you may have called before they can respond directly. However, you are still getting on their radar screen. This gives them a chance to put you in their data base. Make sure the phone call is in conjunction with emails and filling out their questionnaire and you will generate interest from them, even if you are not hearing from them.

    A phone call also goes a long way. It is an intimidating process, but a young athlete being able to pick up the phone and carry on a good conversation with a coach is a quality that will in the least pique our interest. Coach Shayne Lotito, Softball Bryant University

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    Players Commit To A Coach But Sign With A School

    When James Franklin left Vanderbilt for Penn State earlier this year, he took with him eight Commodore coaches, four Commodore administrators and three Commodore strength coaches.

    And, perhaps most controversial of all, he took five recruits who had been committed to Vanderbilt.

    Verbal commitments are non-binding, but that certainly didnt stop people in Nashville from accusing Franklin and the Penn State staff of poaching players.

    I didnt see it that way, says Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, who made the move to Happy Valley with Franklin. These kids were calling him, asking, How can we come with you? It was kinda awkward at the time.

    Idealistically, recruits choose and enroll in schools. But they build personal relationships with those schools coaches, who check in with them about their grades and their lives and have sit-down conversations with their families in their living rooms.

    It follows, then, that those recruits would wish to tag along with the coaches who sold them on the school to which they originally committed. Still, those who take advantage of the relationships they fostered are roundly criticized if the end result is recruits jumping ship after a coach changes jobs.

    Its kinda hypocritical, Shoop says. I watch some get recognized as great recruiters for flipping guys, then we were criticized when guys said they wanted to come with us to Penn State. Coach got a bad rap for that.

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