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 Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology-based recruiting software identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting advisers provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee.
You only go through the college recruiting process once. Take your best shot. Do your homework, learn how the process works. You’ll make a few mistakes along the way, but physical mistakes on the field or the court generally won’t make much of a difference. College coaches know you’re human. The mistakes you want to avoid are those that might really make a difference. Here are my top 10 pieces of advice to help avoid the mistakes that might matter most.
1. Be honest about your abilities
Be honest with yourself. Not every student is going to Princeton and not every athlete can play for Ohio State and that’s ok. What’s not ok is being the recruit that doesn’t understand what schools make the most sense for your abilities. What type of a student are you? What type of an athlete are you? An honest self-assessment gets you focused on the right schools and on the fast-track to becoming a serious recruit.
2. Take responsibility for your recruiting journey
Don’t expect someone else to find your scholarship. What happens if they don’t deliver? This is your future and career. It’s not your mom’s or dad’s. It’s not your coach’s. It’s no one else’s but yours. If you want to play at the next level, do whatever it takes to get there. If you aren’t going to do what it takes, then don’t blame anyone else for not getting you the scholarship that you didn’t really want that badly anyway. When it’s all said and done, you are the one who has to live with the outcome.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
You don’t know what you don’t know. And since you only go through the recruiting process one time in your career, it’s safe to say you probably don’t know how it all works. Many athletes realize they want to play in college as soon as their freshmen or sophomore year of high school. Many times, it’s well before that, because playing in college is a lifelong goal for a great number of athletes. So, start early. Ask questions and seek advice. When that recruiting window opens, you want to understand how to maximize your opportunities.
4. Don’t send impersonal or poorly written emails to college coaches
If you were a college coach, your inbox would be flooded every day with emails from high school athletes looking for a scholarship. How much consideration would you give to an impersonal, poorly worded email with five typos in it? What about an email that, within the first paragraph, the recruit was making excuses about why they don’t have the numbers they deserve, or why they haven’t been treated fairly? My guess is that you would delete those emails pretty quickly, and that is what will happen to your emails unless you spend a little time writing them.
5. Don’t expect an online profile to get you recruited
While an online profile can be helpful in your recruiting process, you’re mistaken if you believe you can post your profile online and wait for the scholarship offers to roll in the door. Most college coaches don’t spend their time searching through thousands of online profiles to fill their rosters. And even if they did, what makes you think your profile will stand out from the others?
6. Contact as many colleges as you can
If college coaches aren’t busting down your door and lighting up your cell phone, then something has to change. The more appropriate colleges you reach out to, the better your chances are to find a scholarship. You can’t afford to limit yourself to just a few colleges. Just because you’re interested in a school doesn’t mean they will be interested in you. What if they already have three other players at your position? To find the right fit, you may have to contact numerous schools, numerous times.
7. Don’t spend the college fund on your recruiting video
Your recruiting video can be a big help in landing on a college roster, but you don’t have to spend a fortune creating an academy award winning production. In fact, a 10-minute video set to the “Rocky” theme song may do more harm than good. Your video just needs to show your athleticism, be clear and display all your abilities. For more information on creating an effective recruiting video, check out our column from a few weeks ago: How to build and share an effective recruiting video.
8. Be careful on social media
Everything you do on social media represents who you are. You are painting a self-portrait with everything you like, post, share or tweet. Without a doubt, any college coach who recruits you is going to look at your social media accounts before they speak with you. Would you be completely embarrassed by what they might see? I hope not.
9. Understand the importance of academics
College coaches want good students. They don’t want to worry about academic eligibility and good students are generally highly motivated, hard-working individuals they won’t have to babysit. I could go on and on about the importance of academics in college recruiting, but just know that academics is almost always the #1 tie-breaker when a college coach is trying to decide between two athletes of similar abilities.
10. Be persistent
How bad do you want it? That’s what you need to ask yourself. You will encounter setbacks. You will have to deal with failure. You will indeed, be rejected. But, if becoming a college athlete is in your gut, you have to accept the process, the good and the bad. Stick to it, because playing at the next level will undoubtedly change your life, forever.
Here’s the deal
The above pieces of advice are a pretty good start toward a successful recruiting journey. Other situations will come up as you go through the process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.