Common Traits of Successful Recruits

If-It-Was-Easy-Everyone-Would-Do-ItFor over 10 years we have been helping athletes and families find scholarship opportunities by utilizing online recruiting tools. Over that time we have spoken with all types of recruits and seen amazing results, both positive and negative. We’ve seen top DI talent end up without a team to play for and athletes get scholarships ahead of other more talented recruits because of their great attitude and hard work.

Across the thousands of recruits and scholarships there are a couple of traits that almost all of our successful recruits have in common.

The recruits have unwavering persistence

You are going to have far more disappointments then success in recruiting and you have to keep fighting. The recruits I have worked with that have the best “luck” are the ones that can get told no 20 times and keep emailing and calling. Coaches have to try and find the serious recruits through all of the half-hearted emails. Getting through this filter requires a consistent, quality effort from you.

They want a scholarship, but don’t ask for it

There is a difference between asking “for” and asking “about” a scholarship and successful recruits ask about scholarships. What you want to know from a coach is what it takes to get a scholarship from their program; it is your job to show that you are that type of student athlete. What you don’t want to do is ask a coach for a scholarship and then leave it up to them to try and determine if you are qualified. Help the coach recruit you, don’t expect them to just come after you.

They have more than one scholarship offer

Nothing gets a scholarship offer like already having one on the table. Even if you are talking to a DI school and only have a DII offer, the coaches know they are now competing against a scholarship offer. When a coach knows a recruit is getting part of their education paid for, it is going to be very difficult to get that recruit without offering some money. Our recruits are encouraged to have several schools involved in the recruiting process. This protects against losing an opportunity late in the process and leveraging offers against other schools.

An ability to follow instructions

You need to be able to read a coaches questions, respond and ask questions of your own. One of the most frustrating experiences for a coach is when they send you instructions to follow and you don’t follow them. If a coach sends you a link to a page with instructions and you ask them for something that was clearly answered on that page, they are going to question your ability to follow instructions. There are going to be several tasks that are going to require you read complex instructions, ask the appropriate people for help and get answers back to your coach. If you cause the process to drag on and waste time, this can cause a coach to stop recruiting you.

Where you’re from doesn’t matter

Being from a small town or an international athlete is never an excuse to not get recruited; you can get recruited from anywhere. Almost every college coach has recruited an international athlete or someone from across the country. It is all about fit, you need to show the coach you fit their program. Will you have to email more or look at more schools, yes, but who said this was going to be easy?

If you are willing to be persistent, you can follow instructions and are willing to fight for what you want, we can help. Contact us on twitter or email directly on Google+.

A Coach Contacted Me and Now Won’t Respond

responding to college coachesOne of the most difficult things to do is get college coaches to notice you and begin recruiting you. That’s why when you get your first letters from coaches you get so excited and you should be. But what happens often times is an athlete responds to the coaches, fills out a recruiting questionnaire and then… nothing. Don’t panic, this is a common behavior in recruiting.

Here is a comment I got on my blog about gauging coach’s interest and I wanted to share the response with everyone.

“I received an email from a college coach specifically stating they were “actively recruiting” me and wanted to call and talk. I replied to the email and told him that would be great and I would really like to speak with him about their program. I gave him my number and told him when I got out of practice. It has been a couple of weeks and I haven’t heard from him. What should I do?”

The devil is in the details

There are a lot of rules that restrict how and when a coach can contact a recruit. In this example, the athlete is a Junior football player and they received this email September 1st. This is the first date a coach can send a letter or email to a recruit, but they are not allowed to call them yet. So when the athlete responds with their phone number and says “you call me” the coach can’t call.

The athlete should have responded with a complete email that included not just their own contact information but the contact information for their coach. The college coach can contact his high school coach and organize a time for the recruit to call him. If you call a coach and they pick up the phone, they can talk to you. But if you leave a message, they can’t call you back unless it fits within the time coaches can call recruits (some time during your Junior or Senior year depending on your sport).

What should he do now?

The most important thing is getting back in touch with the coach and letting them know you are still interested. The coach is probably emailing/sending letters out to hundreds of recruits and it is easy for them to lose you in the shuffle. It is your job as the recruit is  to stand out from the other recruits. Here is what coaches are looking for around the time they are sending letters to recruits:

  • An ability to better evaluate you – this can come in the form of online video for sports like football, baseball, softball, volleyball or basketball or more detailed competitive results in sports like track and field, swimming and golf.
  • Contact information for you, your high school coach and club team coach – this helps coaches make their book on you. They are restricted from calling you, but they can do a lot of their initial evaluations by contacting your coaches.
  • What your grades are – coaches need to know what your grades and test scores (if you have them) are. If your grades are bad, they can help by making sure you catch up. If you have good grades, they can relax and move you ahead in their recruiting process.

Don’t stop when you begin getting letters

It’s easy to get complacent when a coach sends you letters and think that more will come or a coach will take over from here. You want to have multiple coaches emailing and calling you and that can only happen if you continue to work at recruiting and doing the outreach that got you your first letters.

It is really difficult to give a one size fits all answer to how to communicate with coaches, every situation is a little different. If you have specific questions about something that is happening with you, leave them in the comments below, contact me on twitter or you can email me by getting my email off of my Google+ profile.

by David Frank

photo credit: cseeman cc

The Unwritten Code of the College Walk-On

how to be a college walk on
image from the book “Wisdom of the Walk-Ons”

Every college program tries to recruit the best athletes they can and offers them great scholarships to choose their school over another. What almost never get’s talked about, is that while a college team might be driven by a coach and the star players, it runs on the unheralded walk-on. The majority of college athletes are actually walk-ons, not scholarship athletes.

With sports like DI football, there can be up to 85 scholarship athletes but almost 130 players on a roster during spring ball; that’s almost 50 walk-on players on a single team. With sports where there are fewer scholarships (Track and Field, Soccer, Baseball, etc.) these teams do not have enough scholarships to give everyone scholarship money; that means there are starters and major contributors to the team that are walk-ons.

It might sound like all you need to do is find a way to walk-on to a team and you’re set. Not so fast. The majority of walk-on athletes end up quitting before they are done with their eligibility. It’s important that before you go thinking walking-on will solve all of your problems, you are aware of some of the most misunderstood aspects of being a walk-on.

Most walk-ons will quit

This is just the unfortunate truth. Whether it is an inability to keep up the school work, tired of getting pounded at practice with no playing time or a desire to look for an opportunity to earn a scholarship; most walk-ons will not finish their four years of eligibility at the same school.

You will probably not have your magic moment televised

If the only reason you are walking-on to a team is that you want to have your moment in the sun, you will probably be one of the players that quits. Being a walk-on is about the process; enjoying being part of a team, practice and a unique club of college athletes. You will be spending a lot more time being a college athlete than getting recognized by the fans or media.

Know what type of walk-on you want to be

There are two categories of walk-ons. Recruited walk-ons are athletes who have been talking to the coach before college, got help from the coach through the admissions process and show up at the school knowing they are already on the team. Unrecruited walk-ons are athletes who get into school on their own and through an open tryout make the team. This is a much riskier way to walk-on because there is no guarantee you make the team and if you don’t, you can waste a year of eligibility.

You will not be treated like a scholarship athlete

There is a hierarchy within college teams; spoken or unspoken. First are scholarship athletes, second are recruited walk-ons and third are unrecruited walk-ons. On every college team there are politics and certain athletes will get preference over others.  Many walk-ons quit because they feel the coach and scholarship players don’t treat them like real team members. This is necessarily true, but it is important to understand this is a very common feeling for walk-ons at the college level.

All of the above points make the process of walking-on to a team sound terrible. It’s not, but it is hard and too many athletes go into the role of being a walk-on thinking the hard part is making the team. The hard part is showing up day in a day out, giving your best with no promise of a scholarship or recognition outside of your coaches and team.

I myself was an unrecruited walk-on and I’ve worked with hundreds of athletes who become walk-ons each year. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on Google+ or by leaving your questions in the comments below. 

Do You Make These Recruiting Mistakes in the College Recruiting Process?

Avoiding making big recruiting mistakes is key to the college recruiting process.

The college recruiting process can confuse athletes and lead them to commit many recruiting mistakes. Below is a collection of resources we have shared with athletes over the last year that will help you avoid making the recruiting mistakes that often plague athletes and complicate their college recruiting process.

Creating and Sharing a Bad Recruiting Video with Coaches

Even if you already know how important it is to have a good recruiting highlight video, worse than not having one is having a bad one. These resources will help you learn how to make a good recruiting video to help market yourself to coaches.

Talking to Coaches Throughout the College Recruiting Process

Communicating with coaches is one of the most important aspects of the college recruiting process. The articles below give you tips to help you talk to coaches.

Getting in Touch With Coaches

You can’t build relationships with coaches without first knowing how to get in touch with them. These resources will help you get in touch with coaches so you can start getting recruited.

What to do if You Are a Senior or Older

Not everyone can find a scholarship while they are still in high school. These resources are designed to help you find a college opportunity if you are a senior or have graduated high school.

What to do on Official and Unofficial Visits

Athletes and their families should go on visits to learn more about college campuses, athletic programs, and academic facilities and programs. Check out these resources before you go on your visits to help you make the most out of your trips.

No matter where you are in the recruiting process, we can help you. Just leave us a question or comment in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

CIF Football Playoffs: How to Steer Clear of These Big Recruiting Mistakes

The CIF football playoffs, and many others like it, are great opportunities to showcase your skills. Just don’t commit the recruiting mistakes.

It’s the time of year when high school football championships, like our local CIF football playoffs, take place. So many potential recruits across the country have worked so hard for this- the opportunity to play on a big stage where college coaches are going to discover them. That’s no different here in California, where the CIF football playoffs are bound to have scouts and coaches because California is one of the biggest football recruiting regions in the country. But, what few recruits know is that by waiting for the championship game they may have already committed a few big recruiting mistakes.

Three Big Recruiting Mistakes

These are the three common recruiting mistakes that football players, and athletes in any other team sport, make by waiting to focus on recruiting until the state playoffs, or even worse, after the season.

#1. Assuming Coaches Will Find You in These Playoff Games

By this point in the season coaches already know who they are going to scout at the championship games. Yes, in very rare cases coaches will uncover a hidden gem, but for the most part they are making final evaluations on seniors and determining which of the juniors they plan on making a strong effort at recruiting over the next year. Coaches don’t usually discover athletes at these types of games and events.

#2. Waiting Until the End of Your Senior Year

Coaches want to see athletes play live. If you wait until the end of your senior year to start thinking about what schools interest you then it’s already too late to have them come out and scout you. Remember those athletes coaches are going to scout during the CIF football playoffs? Most, if not all of those athletes have already reached out to coaches to show interest in being recruited by them. If you are reading this and you are an underclassmen: you need to get your name out there now, not during your senior year. For seniors, it’s not too late to find an opportunity, but you will have to work very hard over the next few months to get there. Junior college or a year of post –graduate studies are great options for those seniors that are behind in the recruiting process.

#3. Not Taking Film of Your Games

Coaches usually want to see film of a player before they go scout them live. If you want until the end of the season to start thinking about recruiting, unless your coach films every game, you’ve missed a golden opportunity to compile film and make a highlight tape to get recruited.

Are you playing in the CIF football playoffs, or any other postseason tournament? Ask us how we can help you get recruited. Leave your comment in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

One of the Fastest Ways to Lose a Scholarship Offer

One of the Fastest Ways to Lose a Scholarship Offer
Image from ESPN

An angry mother recently wrote a letter to administrators at Texas Tech University complaining that her son was mistreated by former head coach Billy Gillispie. The mother accused Gillispie of berating her son during a camp for high school athletes last summer for overthrowing a pass to another player.

Other (college) athletes have complained to the athletic department about Gillispie’s action towards them, so clearly a problem exists; the main difference here: the college players dealt with it themselves, and the high school athlete’s mom contacted the athletic department. This may not sound like a major distinction, but when you look at the scenario in terms of recruiting it is reminiscent of some of the situations we have seen develop over the years.

Coaches Want to Talk to Athletes and Develop Relationships with Them

Yes, they will talk to family members to increase the bond they have with an athlete, and they will talk to high school coaches to learn more about an athlete’s athletic ability and character  but the core recruiting conversations take place between a coach and an athlete.

One of the best examples of an overbearing parent hurting their child’s college options comes from a recruit who made the ESPN top 40 football list a few years back. The first issue in this player’s recruitment stemmed from the way he communicated with coaches: he didn’t. His father handled all of the communication with coaches. Not only did the athlete not develop bonds with coaches through communication, but his father tended push and badger the coaches throughout their discussions.

Despite the disadvantages, the athlete still managed to get some interest from some Big East schools and some major programs in the Pennsylvania area (obviously the ESPN Top 40 ranking helped him immensely . Coaches invited him to camps to scout and evaluate him. While at the camps, the father overheard a few of the assistant coaches talking about his son. They had some favorable things to say about the athlete; but, as coaches do when they are evaluating an athlete, they also said some negative things about him.

Don’t Ruin Your Chances at a College Opportunity

What happened next would become the final death blow to this prospect’s chances at playing for a top NCAA division I school. The father went to the head coach and yelled at him for what he heard the assistant coaches say about his son. Eventually this athlete went from playing at a BCS football school to playing at an NCAA division II school.

A coach knows that a parent like this can develop into a thorn in their side for the next 4-5 years if they choose to offer a scholarship to their child. With an abundance of skilled athletes out there, most coaches choose to skip over that athlete and move on to the next name on the list. And the opportunities start to dry up fast, because believe it or not, college coaches often talk to each other about recruits.

Going back to the story about Billy Gillispie, sometimes coaches do things and it becomes necessary for a parent or a teacher or even another coach to step in and do something, but this should be an extreme exception; having your parent take full control of your recruiting while you sit back and wait for the offers to roll in will not lead you to the scholarship offer of your dreams.

Do you have questions about how you can successfully navigate the recruiting process? Just let us know in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Don’t Underestimate the Pressure of College Sports

Did you know there are over 3 million athletes competing in high school sports? When you compare that to the nearly 200,000 NCAA athletes competing, you may think your chances of playing at the college level are slim. If

Don't Underestimate the Pressure of College Sports
Image from College Sports Nation

you are looking only at the numbers, then yes, your chances are slim. But if you are ready to continue your sport at the college level then you need to make sure you meet more than just the numbers.

Having the drive to continue to compete in your sport throughout high school and becoming serious enough athlete to make competing in college an option is more than what most of the remaining 2.8 million athletes who don’t go on to college competition have the drive for. It’s this motivational drive which keeps college athletes striving towards greatness. Making sure you have what it takes is a question only you will be able to answer.

Why One Athlete Gave it All Up

Top 2009 football prospect, Bryce Brown, was destined to be a great player on the field. He settled in nicely with his top college choice, Tennessee, and had a stellar freshman year. Brown was actually playing, not sitting out for a division I team. He was putting up numbers as good as the hype surrounding his recruitment said he would.

One would think Brown was in a good place in Tennessee, surrounded by those who wanted to see him succeed, but that spring of his freshman year he decided to leave Tennessee behind for another top ranked college, Kansas State.

As we have discussed in other blogs prior, the transfer process from division I to a division II can be tricky. The NCAA wants all athletes and teams to play fair when changing teams or when picking up transfer football scholarship athletes. So in complying with the transfer rules Brown was forced to sit out his first year with K-State.

The following year he should have been good to succeed, right? Yes, after he and Kansas State complied with transfer rules Brown did become eligible to play. He started the season with the Wildcats, competed in three games, before abruptly quitting the team. He just walked away from it all.

Brown claimed he didn’t have the desire or drive to continue playing for the remainder of the season. He gave up on his career and on his teammates.

Brown’s story is something we see more commonly in student- athletes who have not weighed all their options or have not done considerable research when making the decision of where to continue their college career and if they want to continue to compete.

When making your college decision, make sure you are honest with yourself. Will you be prepared to live, eat and breathe your sport? Will you be able to fully commit to training and representing your team all year long? Will you be able to manage your college work load and the demanding sports schedule?

Making the decision to continue your sport should not be taken lightly. If you have more questions about competing at the college level then leave your comment below or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+

Set Your Expectations Early: Not All Recruits Get to Play

Lane Kiffen said something that we wish all recruits (football players especially) could hear:

“If you really study the country, you’re probably going to find maybe 5 impact true freshman around the country that truly impact their team. Your Marquis Lee’s, DeAnthony Thomas’, your Sammy Watkins’, those types of guys, yet there are 35 five-star guys each year. Most of them need that spring to really get comfortable, to get use [sic] to the speed of the college game, and the playbooks.”

That sound you just heard should be all the recruits and their families pumping the brakes on their expectations.

Whether you are a top-level recruit, or you are looking to play at an NCAA Division III or an NAIA college, it’s likely your expectations of the impact

Set You Expectations Early: Not All Recruits Get to Play
Image from NW Sports Beat

you will have are way higher than they should be. Sit back and think for a minute about the numbers Kiffen brings up. Out of 35 five-star recruits, only 5 of them may have an impact in any given season.

Sure, there are freshman that come in and start for their teams, but if you think you are going to walk in and start and possibly even be a star, the odds say you won’t.

What Should You Do if You Want to Play Next Year

That doesn’t mean you can’t find somewhere to play in year one, but it does mean you may have to temper your expectations. If you are a division I player, start looking at lower division I schools or even DII schools. If you are a DIII or NAIA player then spend time looking at teams’ rosters to see if they have multiple upperclassmen playing your position that are set to graduate when you enter college.

Junior college is another option for athletes looking to play right away. (If you are a qualifier then you can play for one year and transfer; partial and non-qualifiers may have to play for two years and earn their associates degree.) Would you rather red shirt your freshman year, or spend it at a junior college? Be careful when considering this option though, because playing time isn’t the only thing that makes underclassmen better at their sport. Athletes greatly improve their skills during the college offseason by working with strength and training coaches, as well as with their head and assistant coaches to review film and playbooks.

Take some time to evaluate what you truly want out of your college experience. Sometimes playing 4 years at a smaller school is better than only having one or two seasons to play.

What do you think? Do you want to play right away, or sit on the bench for a few years before you see the field? Let us know in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Increase Your College Scholarships Opportunities

If you think being prepared for your recruitment means picking out 1-5 college teams that you are only familiar with because you watch them on TV, then you have already limited your college bound opportunities.

Communicating with recruits is what we do; there are many times when answering recruiting questions that we hear how student athletes want to get recruited, but they only want to play for top College Decisions Open MindNCAA Division I colleges. In certain situations, reaching for a top college is a great goal to reach for.  If you believe you have what it takes to compete with the players at the top colleges than you should aim high. On the other hand, if you are an athlete who is currently not playing or training regularly for your sport in any school or league it will be extremely difficult to get recruited.

You Need to Find the Right College

What we encourage young players to do is reach out to college coaches and find the right program for them. We have valuable resources on our site to help athletes of all abilities accomplish this. You need to understand there is more to college sports than Division I.

It’s all about finding the right program. Recruits should be reaching out to all division levels if they are unsure of where they will excel. Take time to explore NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA programs. The more opportunities you give yourself the better your chances will be.

Research the Program & Reach out to the Coaches

Coaches are going to need to know more about you than: “Hi, I’m an excellent athlete. I have been a huge fan since I was eight. If you give me a chance to play, I will not let you down.” Please, whatever you do in your recruitment do not send them an email, text, or Facebook message like this. This is not how coaches want to communicate with recruits. One to two sentences says nothing about the student-athlete you are.

You need to send coaches something concrete. Tell them about yourself and show them your skills. You need to be prepared. Send them your resume and video. Tell them why you want to be a part of their team, what you have to offer, and prove it to them that you will be able to compete at their level.

It’s one thing to reach out to coaches, but another to be prepared when you begin to contact them. Coaches will know by your correspondence if you have done your homework and are knowledgeable about their team and program. Be that athlete they will want to get back in touch with.

Remember, top college coaches are hearing from hundreds if not thousands of recruits from around the globe. They have seen it all. In order to stand out, you need to set yourself apart from other recruits who are striving for the same goal you are.

If you have further questions about finding the right college program for you or the correct way to reach out to college coaches than leave your comment below or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+!

The Dos and Don’ts of College Recruiting

Finding a college to continue your academic and athletic career is a challenging task. It is definitely not something that should be taken lightly because your choice in a college will affect you for the rest of your life. Here is a breakdown of some of the dos and don’ts in college recruiting.

The Dos

Research Colleges

 Start doing this early in your high school career. As an underclassman, you will have a million other things on your mind, but learning at a young age what to look for and what you want in a college experience will make the whole process so much easier. Here is an easy guide that gives you five things to do every year to get recruited.

Make the Initial Contact

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding recruiting is thinking that coaches will find you. College coaches will not find you! Everyone thinks that if they just play hard enough, scouts are out there looking. Nothing will hurt you in recruiting more than believing the previous statement. Unless you are a top football or basketball player (think top 200), you will likely go unnoticed by coaches.

Stay in Contact with Coaches

Making initial contact is extremely important, but keeping connected is paramount. Putting together a sports resume will help you get initial interest, but it is your job to continue to update coaches with your progress—both athletically and academically. Coaches talk to hundreds of athletes during recruiting, and they are looking for reasons to cross athletes off from their recruiting lists. Losing touch with an athlete is a great reason for a coach to cross you off his list. If you need inspiration, check out these 50 reasons to update a coach.

Attend Camps and Fill out Questionnaires

Almost every school has a recruiting questionnaire available on their website. This is another great way to make initial contact with a coach. You can find links to recruiting questionnaires available on our free recruiting database. Going to camps is also a great way to get recognized and make sure that coaches see you perform. Don’t just sign up though; make contact with coaches before going to camps.

The Don’ts

Wait Until Your Senior Year Has Started

One of the most common problems we come across is athletes waiting too long to start looking for college opportunities. The NCAA has strict rules on losing eligibility after you graduate high school. Don’t wait too long to start recruiting because you will miss out on opportunities. If you are a senior or have recently graduated, some options for you are junior collegepostgraduate studies, or walking on.

Talk to a Coach Like He/She is Your Friend

Finding a scholarship is similar to finding a job. Pretend the coaches you are talking to are potential bosses. Make sure to edit all of your correspondence with them and use spell-check. Be professional and polite when you talk to them on the phone; it will go a long way.

Post Inappropriate Things on Social Media

When looking for scholarships, you always want to paint a good self-portrait. Again, college recruiting is like looking for a job, so make sure you only post appropriate things on social media sites. Coaches recruit based on an athlete’s character more than you might think!

Have more ideas of recruiting dos and don’ts? Let us know in the comments section below or connect with us on FacebookTwitter, or Google+!