From the time you learned to walk and talk, you were probably told what not to do. “Don’t play in the mud.” “Don’t feed the dog from the dinner table!” “Don’t play catch with dad’s Micky Mantle autographed baseball.” I’m sure that sometimes you listened and sometimes you didn’t. Being told “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” all the time gets a little old, but I bet when you followed that advice, things generally turned out better than when you didn’t.
For that reason, I think it’s appropriate to go over the “Don’ts of College Recruiting”. These are the common mistakes high school athletes need to avoid in the college recruiting process. Sometimes what you don’t say or do is more important than what you do. So, here are my Top 3 “Don’ts” of the college recruiting process.
A few years ago, I was talking with a college coach at a showcase event when he made a very telling comment. He told me, “I wish every recruit at this camp had his GPA on the front of his jersey and his standardized test score on the back of his jersey.” That statement alone should tell you how important college coaches feel academics are when it comes to evaluating potential recruits. Don’t fool yourself, college coaches look at academics when evaluating EVERY recruit. In fact, academics is almost always the first tie-breaker when a college coach is trying to decide between two athletes of similar abilities. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you don’t qualify academically for a particular college, then you aren’t going to play for that college. It’s that simple.
We are constantly asked when the recruiting process should start. The answer to that question (for the most part) is that it should have started yesterday. In today’s world of incredibly competitive athletics, the college recruiting process is starting earlier and earlier. The earlier you start the recruiting process; the more success you will have. Your window of opportunity closes a little more as every practice and game passes. Unless you’re a highly recruited athlete, you have to identify colleges to pursue, connect with the coaches and close the deal. This takes time. The sooner you get on the radar screen of the right coaches, the better off you will be and the more time you will have to evaluate which school is right for you. If you wait until your senior year in high school to get started, your college career will most likely be on the intramural fields.
If you truly want to play in college and especially if you want to play for a particular coach or school, then you need to do everything you can to make that dream a reality. Don’t give up after sending one general email to the coach at a program you are truly interested in. That isn’t going to cut it. You have to be persistent and consistent. Also, if you don’t express specific interest in a coach’s team or program then your attempts to contact that coach will most likely fall on deaf ears. Finally, if a coach doesn’t respond immediately to your initial email that doesn’t necessarily mean the answer is “no”. He or she could have been on vacation, overlooked your email, or didn’t believe you were really serious about their program. You have to follow up and make sure they understand that you are serious about playing for them.
There are many things you need to do to have a successful recruiting journey. That said; if you can avoid the “don’ts” of the recruiting process your chances of landing on a college roster.