While having your student athlete being recruited by college coaches is exciting, it is not without pitfalls.
According to Richy Brooks, the baseball coach at Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City, college recruitment has become a business. “It is unfortunate, but it is true,” he said. And the people putting the money in are athletes and their parents.
So how do you know what’s worth the cost? One thing that may not be is a paid highlight video. “Coaches, at least in baseball, just aren’t really watching those videos,” Brooks said. “They don’t have the time. Unless they already have a significant interest in the athlete, they won’t watch more than a few minutes, if they watch it at all.” Which means it’s probably a waste of money to pay an individual or company to produce an elaborate 20-minute video of your teen. “If you do want to have one, make it short, and make it yourself. There are plenty of apps that make it simple to do all you need using your smartphone,” Brooks said.
Athlete videos vary in importance depending on the sport. Lauri Mitchell’s son was recruited to play football at Kansas State, and she offered this advice regarding videos for high school football players. “If your child has expressed an interest in playing football at the next level, it is important to start preparing film of your child’s playing time as early as the 10th grade,” she said. “Your child’s position coach should be able to provide this. Most athletes are familiar with Hudl, the website where coaches download previous game film and is a great place to find video of your player in action.”
But if the coaches in some sports aren’t watching as many videos or if you don’t have one, how can your teen get their attention? “Coaches really aren’t doing high school visits that much anymore. What they want is for you to go to their summer camp,” Brooks said. “The next best thing is to do a summer showcase or combine. Coaches like those because they can see a bunch of kids at once.” These programs aren’t cheap though.
“It can be really expensive to do all of it, so if you’re mainly after a scholarship, be careful. You may end up spending as much or more than the scholarship is worth just trying to get it.— Richy Brooks, Baseball Coach at Benjamin Russell High School
Mitchell echoed Brooks on the importance of getting in front of coaches in person. “Your athlete should attend football camps during the summer,” she said. “This will give you and your child an opportunity to meet college coaches, see their athletic facilities, and learn about their program. This also gives your child an opportunity to showcase his talent.”
Patrick Wood, whose daughter Kristin was recruited to play college softball, also encourages other parents to have a profile sheet on your teen with a photo, highlights and stats at all athletic events ready to hand to interested coaches.
Be Ready for the Ride
While having your student athlete being recruited by college coaches is exciting, it is not without pitfalls. Mitchell shared this warning: “Some college coaches will tell your son what he wants to hear just to keep him interested in their program. College coaches may even pressure your son to commit, telling him his scholarship will be given to someone else if he doesn’t,” she said. “Like it or not, the process isn’t always pleasant. It is like riding a roller coaster, so be prepared for the ups and downs.”
Staying STRONG Academically
The recruitment process is really in the hands of college coaches, but your teen’s high school coach can play an important role in making sure that he or she is ready. “Good high school coaches really focus on helping them stay eligible for recruitment by making sure they complete their core work, take and pass the tests and meet the specific eligibility guidelines,” Brooks said. It’s key for parents to pay attention and be involved with that as well, as Brooks stressed. “It won’t do you any good to be recruited if you can’t get into the school that’s wanting you,” he said.
And parents can help keep their teens focused too. “The process will be time consuming, which can make studying difficult. But without the grades an athlete will not qualify to play, ultimately meaning all the hard work was for nothing,” Mitchell said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) creates and enforces the rules and regulations concerning college sports, and breaking these rules is serious stuff. Much of the responsibility for staying on the right side of the line falls on college coaches and their staff. While most high-school athletes will never have to deal with a possible infraction, it is crucial that they at least be aware of the rules and regulations.
“It is really the very elite athletes being recruited by football and basketball college coaches that may run into recruitment irregularities,” Brooks said, “but you just have to talk to them candidly about the rules and make sure they understand what breaking them could mean to their future.”
Wood suggested visiting the NCAA website and studying up on the organization’s recruitment regulations. “Register early on the NCAA and NAIA websites. The rules and regulations are on those websites, and parents should be familiar with them. Make sure to be aware of age restrictions as it pertains to recruitment,” he said.
From an SEC Football Coach
Tim Horton, Running Backs Coach for Auburn University, shared the steps he and fellow football recruiting coaches take when evaluating a potential player.
Step 1: In football, the player’s video is the first step in the process. This video is usually watched in a system called Hudl, and we watch to see if he has the ability to play at our level.
Step 2: We do background checks with the high school coach concerning academics, character, work ethic, attitude, etc.
Step 3: We meet the kid, hopefully at our school as he participates in a camp or combine. We are looking to see if he is a fit for our university.
Step 4: With limited scholarships available, we try and rank players and determine who we would offer a scholarship to and accept their commitment.