Criticisms for Early Recruiting Missing the Mark

early recruiting in collegeThere are over 270 comments and climbing on a recent New York Times article chronicling the increased number of early commits made by college recruits. People are upset at the idea that families and recruits are being asked (some say forced) into deciding on a sport and college in the 8th and 9th grade. The majority of the criticism is aimed at the NCAA, college and club team coaches. People are frustrated at “the recruiting system” that is taking advantage of young girls and families.

Rule changes handed down by the NCAA aren’t going to fix the issues highlighted in the article. There is no system that will protect people willing to make uninformed decisions. Any decision to commit yourself to a school 2, 3, and 4 years before you will be a student there is an uninformed decision. You don’t know if the coach, recruit or school are going to be the same in four years.

These agreements between the athletes and the universities are unofficial “verbal commitments”, which in the eyes of the NCAA officially mean nothing.  Coaches have no obligation to honor a verbally committed scholarship just as the athlete has no obligation to sign with the school. Asking the NCAA to regulate the verbal commitment between an athlete and a coach is going to create more rules, something I don’t think should happen.

What would happen if coaches could contact any recruit they wanted?

The idea that the NCAA or any regulatory body could set rules that would stop a willing recruit and coach from communicating is unrealistic. They have tried to prevent early recruiting in sports like basketball and the effects are an influx of third parties who make the recruiting process worse. I think coaches and recruits should be allowed to communicate as much as they want. It is the frequent communication between a recruit, family and a coach that is going to make a more informed decision. The better you get to know a coach and how they run their program, the better chance you have of making the right choice.

If a top recruit is getting bombarded by interested coaches, then it is the family’s job to set guidelines with coaches. Look at the recruiting process for top basketball prospect Jabari Parker (now a freshman at Duke). An elite talent like Jabari had every coach recruiting him and could have committed to any program he wanted. His parents were concerned the process would be over whelming for him:

We want him to enjoy being who he is. If he wants to talk, we’ll ask him first. Right now, we don’t want him to be over-bombarded because coaches can sometimes be aggressive, and that can be overwhelming.” – Sony Parker (Jabari’s Dad)

His parents had a simple system, no coach or program was allowed to contact Jabari directly. All phone calls and text messages went through them. If a program was being overly aggressive they were removed from consideration. Simple. Effective.

Non-Revenue recruits need to behave like revenue sport recruits

For the big money sports like, football and basketball this type of early recruiting has been happening for years. Why then aren’t more 5-star football and basketball recruits verbally committed? They used to, but verbal commitments have come to mean almost nothing in those sports. Athletes routinely “committed” to a program, and continued to talk to and visit other coaches. In addition, opposing coaches began actively recruiting committed athletes.

While coaches in revenue sports might be “honoring” a verbal commitment between a recruit and a program and agree not to recruit a committed athlete, I wouldn’t expect this trend to continue. There was a time when football coaches honored the agreement not to recruit committed players, but the pressure to sign a top recruit ultimately won out and now all bets are off. It is only a matter of time before non-revenue coaches treat commitments the same as their revenue counterparts.

I don’t condone not honoring your verbal commitment. Instead, the top recruits in non-revenue sports need to understand the power they have in the recruiting process. If they feel they are being forced to take on offer from a coach, is that program really going to be the right school for them?

What can a family or recruit do now to fix this situation?

There is nothing the NCAA or any other college sports regulatory body can do to change the fact some athlete (or their parents) are going to do everything they can to play for a big name school. The competition for these few roster spots are always going to be overly competitive. Whether it is happening in 8th and 9th grade or forced to happen in the last few years of high school, the rules of the game are defined. Competition is fierce, commitments are being made extremely early and you need to accept the risks that come with these decisions.

What many families are discovering is that maybe big time college sports aren’t all it is cracked up to be. Maybe a coach with constant pressure to win isn’t going to provide you with a stable enough scholarship offer. Maybe the balance of athletics and academics at these big schools isn’t right for you.

As a family you set your priorities on what is important in the college experience. If you want sports to be part of it, look for a school that has the type of athletic opportunities you are looking for. There are hundreds of universities that offer a great balance of competition and academics, you don’t have to commit to a major athletic program as an 8th grader if you don’t want to.

How to Avoid Wasting Money on Camps

parent questions about campsI received an e-mail from a parent asking several great questions about choosing camps for their athlete to attend. I wanted to share the questions and my answers as  blog because in my experience, many families struggle with the same problems.

How do you handle the overflow of invitations to camps? Which ones should you really go to? Coaches invite all athletes to their camps. Is that fair to the athletes truly interested in going to that college?

For any athlete, invitations to camps will fall into two categories. Either they come from a school/coach you have been in contact with or it is coming from a school you have had very little communication with. It’s important to remember an invitation to a camp is not a sign of serious recruiting interest. Coaches invite hundreds of athletes to camps because they are money makers for their program. The facts are, they are only evaluating a small portion of the athletes at camp as recruits there for their program.

In order to make sure you aren’t just a camper there to make the program money, go to the camps at the schools where you are getting interest before the camp invitation. This means you have exchanged emails and phone calls with a coach long before they sent you a letter or email inviting you to camp.

Always respond to an invitation to a camp. Even if you are not interested in a school don’t just ignore the invitation; politely decline and thank the coach for the invitation, you never know how things might change down the road.

Should athletes be given more specific information on which positions they are looking to fill?

Knowledge is power in recruiting and coaches are only go to give a recruit the information they think they need in order to get that athlete to commit to their program. If you have a particular piece of information you want to know about a program, it is on you to ask. Most of the time a coach will answer an athlete’s questions about how many recruits they have for a specific position, rarely will they offer up that info without you asking. The facts are, coaches are recruiting several athletes for any open position. The odds are never in your favor. Because your chance with any one school is actually pretty small, you need to have several programs interested in you.

What if someone wants to play at a college and they get an invitation to their camp, but they later find out there is only one spot available—and it isn’t even their position?

This is why you need to have multiple schools on your list. There is no guarantee that the year you are coming out of high school a program is going to have a need at your position. If you find out a school doesn’t have an opening where you play, then attending camp at that school is not going to do much for your recruiting. If the schools is one really high on your list and you are willing to take a chance on a position opening up late, then you can go camp there. You will be going into camp with the expectation that you won’t be getting serious interest and it will be on you, to keep in contact with the coaches after camp.

The decision of which camps or showcases to attend is never straight forward. You need to consider what you want in a school and the interest you may or may not be getting. If you have questions about identifying camps, you can ask in the comments below or on social media.

Can You Handle What Happens at Elite Camps and Combines?

choosing a summer camp or combineYou know the expression, “Be careful what you wish for”? It applies to the elite athlete Spring/Summer camps and showcases held every year. These camps are often hyper-focused on one thing – finding the best talent and having them compete against one another.  Although some of these camps are invite only, many are open to willing participants who are able to manage the expenses. The problem is that during these camps, if you don’t get in the right group, game, or drill, you run the risk of going unnoticed. Unless…

You’ve probably heard the age-old story of the unknown kid that goes to an elite camp and comes out with coaches beating down his door. The good news? This happens. Sometimes. The bad news? In most cases, an unknown athlete that goes to camp will go unnoticed. Worse yet, you will probably be over-shadowed by an elite talent. With limited opportunities to attend camps and showcases, it’s important that you attend those that will benefit you the most. Here are some things to consider.

Coaches will go where the best are playing one another

In most high school competitions you are lucky to have one elite-level recruit. As a high-school athlete, you may not have a lot of experience competing against athletes on an equal or higher caliber than you. Camps allow coaches to bring elite talent together to see how they compete against one another. Your performance from these brief encounters holds much more weight than a season’s worth of video against low-level competition. You can make or break your chance with a particular coach at one camp.

Coaches aren’t just watching the play

Yes, coaches are looking for elite sport performance. But they’re also looking for positivity, and the ability of one athlete over another to work as part of a team. Coaches often evaluate an athlete’s body language more than their actual play. If you show a bad attitude or your body language indicates you are backing off the competition – coaches are taking notes. If you do poorly, don’t compound the problem by having a bad attitude about it. The key is to show enthusiasm and confidence (even in the face of adversity), without showboating or acting cocky.

Give coaches what they need to evaluate you

Coaches are creatures of habit and tend to recruit from the same areas each year. This means they are attending the same camps and showcases and unless you are there, don’t expect them to know who you are. You pick the schools you want to get recruited by, contact those coaches to find out where they recruit and then pick the camp or showcase you need to attend.

Do you belong against the best?

I’m going to give it to you straight – elite recruits have serious athleticism. They are big, strong, and fast, and the average high school athlete wouldn’t stand a chance against them in a one-on-one drill. Be honest with yourself: do you belong in that drill? If you do, great! If you aren’t sure, chances are you don’t. This doesn’t mean college sports aren’t right for you, just that the top D1-level might not be right for you. The same mistake happens often – an athlete wastes valuable time in the recruitment process by trying to break into an elite camp when they should be attending a camp for a D2 or NAIA school to establish a relationship with the coach there.

Picking camps and showcases is a critical component to any recruiting process. Feel free to contact me on Google+ or simply leave your questions in the comments below and I can help with any specific question you might have.

College Soccer Showcases: Where to Find Them and Why They Are Beneficial to Your Recruitment

college soccer showcase
College soccer showcases can open up opportunities for you during your recruitment.

Soccer Showcases are intended to help boost a player’s recruitment. Showcases give recruits time to play and be evaluated by college coaches. Keep in mind that earning a spot on a college team takes a lot of work; attending one showcase will not be your golden ticket to landing on a college team, but it will definitely help your chances.

Looking for College Soccer Showcases

Not all college soccer showcases are created equal. If you are part of a club or academy team ask your coaches for advice. Typically competitive development academies participate in national tournaments where they will be seen by college coaches. Having these connections will assist you during your recruitment where you will be able to learn about future camps and showcases.

Doing a simple Google search for college soccer showcases will also land you some useful resources especially if you are looking to attend showcases near you. and have great sites with information about upcoming clinics and showcases where college coaches will be in attendance. These sites are easy to use and allow athletes to search by state or region for all upcoming events.

When is the Best Time to Search for College Soccer Showcases?

Start searching for appropriate showcases during your freshman and sophomore year. If you have been researching colleges make sure you check to see if the head coach or assistant coach will be making appearances at any upcoming showcases.

Another reason you should be starting your search early for showcases is because of the competition. High quality showcases that attract top college coaches are going to be sought after by TONS of soccer recruits; recruits who are looking for a chance to get noticed and play in front of college coaches. Take some time to check when showcase registration dates will be open. Some showcases open up their registration up to six months in advance and have a first-come-first-serve policy.

Taking the time to locate the right college soccer showcase can be intense, especially if you are not sure what you are looking for. There are thousands of websites and services trying to sell you on their camp, training session, and showcase so make a point to learn all you can about these companies and find out which will be the best opportunity for you.

The Importance of Attending a College Soccer Showcase

The more chances you have to meet and talk with college coaches the better.  A coach is going to recruit players who they know and have had time to evaluate. Attending a showcase where a college coach who you have been in communication with will be extremely beneficial to you as you move forward in your recruitment. Coaches are going to want to continue to talk with players they see potential in, ones they have had a chance to evaluate and players who are genuinely interested in attending their college.

If you have any questions about locating a soccer showcase then leave your question in the comments section below and connect with us on FacebookTwitter, or Google+!

Las Vegas Recruiting Showcase: What Athletes Can Learn

If you want to get recruited by college coaches, attending summer camps and showcases is a must. We’ve talked about it before, but taking the right steps before you attend camps and showcases can make all the difference between getting a scholarship and not getting a scholarship.

Collin Host, a senior set to graduate in 2013 from just outside Minneapolis, MN, thought attending an AAU showcase in Las Vegas was the right step Las Vegas Recruiting Showcase: What Athletes Can Learnto get recruited. His logic was sound, considering every July hundreds of college coaches descend on Las Vegas to scout athletes during three five-day basketball evaluation periods.

When Host showed up, he didn’t quite get the chance he was expecting. In a game where Host played well and scored 18 points, there was only one coach could be found watching the game.

A Lesson to Take From Collin Host’s Showcase Story

Collin’s experience is something all recruits can learn from. Attending and playing in front of coaches must happen during your recruiting process, but without building good relationships with coaches you are seriously jeopardizing and minimizing your chances. There are too many variables involved in showcases and recruiting for you to expect to be discovered by attending an event like this.

Host has received letters from several colleges, but none of the head or assistant coaches from those schools ended up attending his game. This speaks to the nature of recruiting letters. If you are receiving generic letters from schools that are type-written the odds are a hundred athletes, if not more, are receiving the same letter. When you start getting hand-written letters, phone calls, and text messages, then you know you are truly being recruited.

What Can You do to Have a Different Experience?

Start recruiting at an early age. Contact coaches and introduce yourself. The more time a coach spends looking at your film and communicating with you, the more likely he is to come scout you. Make sure to communicate with him or her and learn what showcases they are attending, and what teams they plan to scout there.

Set realistic expectations. Host wants to be an NCAA division I player, but the one scout that did show up to his first showcase game marked him down as a division II player. Always aim for the highest level you think you can possibly get to, but being realistic about your ability will help you match up with coaches who actually want to recruit you. Otherwise, you may end up playing in an empty gym and wonder why you don’t have any coaches’ attention.

Play your best, even when only a few people are watching. Host has the right attitude about playing in a showcase tournament. He knows that if his team wins, then they will have a chance to play against the better teams that attract better coaches and scouts. Not to mention, just because you think you are playing in front of nobody, you never know who might walk in the gym next.

If you want to learn how to maximize your camp and showcase experience, just ask us how in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Steve Spurrier Shows How to Take the Right Approach to Recruiting Camps

2012 marks Steve Spurrier’s 20th appearance at SEC Media Day. Spurrier’s first appearance came in 1985, almost a full decade before the birth of most athletes currently looking to get recruited by colleges; that doesn’t mean the Old Ball Coach doesn’t still have some valuable information to bestow upon potential recruits: over 400 athletes attended a one-day camp at the University of South Carolina this summer (via Kristi Dosh, @sportsbizmiss on Twitter).

If you think that strictly showing up to camps will get you a scholarship, then this number should surprise you. We have said it several times before, but you need to do more than show up to camps and perform well. South Carolina currently has a coaching staff of 14. That means each coach is responsible for scouting roughly 30 athletes. South Carolina holds three of these camps a summer (among other camps), so the coaching staff sees over 1,000 athletes at camps each year.

Attendance at camps is a big key to getting recruited, especially in team sports, but too often athletes don’t take full advantage of the opportunity. Your camp experience should be used to supplement your recruiting game plan, it shouldn’t be your recruiting game plan.

So, What Can You Do to Get the Most Value out of Attending Camps?

It starts with evaluating what camps are the best match for your needs. You only have a limited amount of time, and it can cost a good deal of money to attend multiple camps, so make sure you are using your resources to attend the camps that are held at schools you are truly interested in, not schools that have a flashy name.

Once you have determined what camps you want to attend, it is time to start making a connection with the coaching staff (if you haven’t already. If you are already talking to coaches and they’ve shown an interest, you may want to consider going to their camps first). Our Guide to Communicating with College Coaches E-book will help you learn how you can build relationships with coaches that will eventually lead to scholarship opportunities. When you walk into a camp, you want the coach to already know who you are and be familiar with your skills.

Coaches love to see athletes play live, and camp is a great way to make it happen, but before you go to camp you can use video to make sure a coach pays attention to you when you are at camp. Create a great highlight video and upload it to YouTube. Coaches will be ten times more likely to watch and scout you at a camp after you have properly displayed your skills via video.

Do you have questions about how to best utilize your camp experience to get recruited? Leave your question in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

A Quick Guide to Evaluating Sports Camps

One of the most common questions we get here is, “How do I figure out which camps I should go to?” There is no quick answer to this question because it really depends on what kind of camp someone is looking for. Here, we give you some instructions on how to select the best camp for you, as well as discuss a few common types of camps.

Don’t Just Sign up For Camps, Follow These Steps First

At summer camps, coaches only scout athletes they already know; they do not scout new talent at camps. You must build relationships with the schools you want to be recruited by before attending camps.

• Research the schools you want to play for. Be realistic about which division level is the right fit for you. Attending camps held at schools above your ability level will not help you. It will only cost you valuable time and money.

 Put together a resume that highlights your academic and athletic abilities.

• Find the coaches’ contact information online, either on individual college athletic pages or by creating an account on our free recruiting database.

 Reach out to coaches at the schools you are interested in. Send them your resume and start to make a connection with them. Building a relationship will only help you get scouted and recruited.

• Ask them what camps and showcases they will be attending in the summer. Don’t listen to websites and camps that tell you the coaches that were there last year; it only matters what coaches will be there this year.

• Stay in contact with coaches by updating them on your progress. Make sure to reach out to them as the camp is approaching to ensure they will be scouting you.

Make Sure You Know what Kind of Camp You Are Attending

College Camps – These camps are held by college coaches and provide athletes an opportunity to play in front of the coaches they want to get recruited by. This is the type of camp that most high school athletes who are looking for a scholarship want to attend because it puts them directly in front of scouts.

High School Skills Camps – These camps are run by high school coaches and their staff. They are good for younger athletes (sixth through ninth graders). These camps teach athletes the skills that will help them improve as an athlete. They usually will not help athletes get recruited.

Showcase Tournaments – These events are held by a third party, such as Nike or Adidas. These camps draw more scouts from a wide array of colleges; however, they are very difficult to get noticed at showcases. You will definitely have to follow the steps above to introduce yourself to coaches.

Are you still trying to figure out which camps are right for you? Just ask us. in the comment section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Choosing A Division Level and Other Reader Questions

Choosing A College

We got another great reader e-mail the other day, and we thought we would share some of the questions and answers that came about from the e-mail. Don’t forget that we are available by phone, e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter for you to ask us any college recruiting questions you may have.

We Have Been Invited to Visit a Division III Campus. They Are Interested, But to Be Honest with You, We can’t Afford a Private School Without Any Scholarships for Sports. How do They Deal with That? Besides Academic Scholarships, what Else Can They Offer to Balance the Costs?

Schools offer academic scholarships for good students. They also offer financial aid based on income. You can ask the school’s admissions department what kind of financial aid they offer and also what you would be eligible for with your family’s income level. American students can go to the FAFSA website to research on the federal student aid. Many division III schools offer scholarships for international students to help create a diverse student body. Many of these scholarships cover up to 50 percent of the cost of tuition.

We Have a Coach that Was Responding to All Our E-mails and Inviting Him to Their Camp. Once I Enrolled Him in the Camp, the Coach Stopped Responding to E-mails. How Do You Think I Should Proceed with that College?

If a coach stops responding to e-mails, try picking up the phone and giving them a call. Making a phone call can be faster and more efficient than e-mailing. Plus it may be easier to get a response by phone if he is not responding to your e-mails. It is important to make sure you get in touch with coaches prior to attending camps to make sure that coaches will be scouting you at the camp. You should also be contacting other coaches at this time so you can keep your options open.

What is the Big Difference Between Divisions I and II in Terms of Scholarships?

NCAA Division I sports have two categories of scholarships: head count and equivalency. Basically, head-count sports must offer athletes full scholarships, and equivalency sports can break up scholarships and give them to more athletes (four 25 percent scholarships would equal one scholarship in an equivalency sport). All NCAA Division II sports are equivalency sports.

The other big difference is in recruiting budgets. Division I schools typically have much more money to spend on recruiting than division II schools do.

If You Had the Choice of Picking a Team Among All Divisions, Which One Would You Pick?

The best division level depends on what you are looking for as a student athlete. Division I tends to have more of a big-school feel. Division II is still a very high level of competition, but it offers a little bit of a mix between division III and division I. Division III is typically more academically focused but still has great athletics. Going pro should not be your goal when thinking about a college. Your goal should be finding the best fit for you, both athletically and academically. Athletes have gone pro from all divisions.

Do you have recruiting questions you want answered? Ask us in the comments section below or connect with us on FacebookTwitter, or Google+!

Football Camps: If You Want to Play in College You Have to Go!

Brad Wing

I just finished reading an excellent article by Andy Staples about the two players from Australia playing in the upcoming national championship game on January 9 (Brad Wing and Jesse Williams). As college football coaches look for the edge in recruiting, they are beginning to recruit more and more from outside of the US.

Did You Know There Are 10 International Players Currently on Top 10 Teams in College Football?

The real focus of the article was on LSU redshirt freshman punter Brad Wing. He has been by far and away the best punter in college football and maybe even the NFL this year. Of all of his amazing stats, the one that stands out the most is that in 50 punts, he has allowed six return yards. That’s six total—any special teams coach would be happy with that on any given kick, never mind after 50 punts!

You would expect that being such a dynamic talent, Wing would have been heavily recruited coming out of high school (he played his senior year of high school in the US), but he wasn’t. There is one really interesting couple of sentences aspiring college football players should take from the article:

Because Wing did not spend years on the football camps circuit, he remained a secret outside Louisiana. Northwestern State and McNeese State were the only other schools to offer scholarships.

That means Wing received only three scholarship offers and only one offer (LSU) at the NCAA Division 1A level. You might say, “Well, he’s only a punter. I play safety, quarterback, or whatever.” But the facts are college coaches know how important a dominate punter can be (just ask Nick Sabin after their loss to LSU in their first meeting); and no matter how good you are, if you don’t get out to camps or, at the very least, contact coaches, you will fly under the radar.

Trust me, if more coaches had known about a punter down in Louisiana who could kick the ball from the back of his own end zone to the other 25 or land three out of 10 kicks into a trash can 55 yards away (both things Wing has done), then you can bet he would have received more than 10 athletic scholarship offers. If you are not getting out to camps, e-mailingcalling, or sending coaches your video and resume, you are not going to be found.

Are you having trouble contacting coaches? Do you think you have what it takes to play at the next level but can’t seem to break through? Ask your questions in the comments section below or connect with us on FacebookTwitter, or Google+!